Learning with the Seasons
A journey into Human and Forest Health
In partnership with Wild in Washington
Online Course May 3-19
Woodland camp: May 20,21,22 | October 14, 15, 16, 2022
Cuckmere River Pilgrimage
Cuckmere River Pilgrimage
with Lee Walther and Nic Salazar Sutil
April 16th, 2022 10:00-18:00pm
Guardians of the River
In partnership with Advaya Initiative
March- April 2022
Guardians of the Forest
In partnership with Advaya Initiative
March- April 2022
Follow the Land
Online Short Course + Pilgrimage
Pedagogies of Justice
What is a Pedagogy of Justice?
“The child has one hundred languages, but they steal ninety-nine of them” Loris Malaguzzi
I start with a personal question: How do you know climate change is happening? Do you have a lived experience of climate change, or do you think you know because the media and science publications tell you so? Without lived experience of climate change, and without an engagement with communities that are frontliners in the battle against climate crisis, how can anyone have the holistic understanding required to act, collectively and positively?
Many minority groups around the world have their own unique climate science and knowledge of climate action, based on lived experience and traditional wisdoms. Western science and climate politics are colonial narratives that often claim superiority or priority, while other forms of knowledge are often labelled 'alternative' in the public arena. Is it appropriate to think that a Western system of knowledge-production is native or dominant, while non-Western knowledge is “alter-native”? What does the word 'alternative' even mean? There is no such thing as alternative education, alternative science or alternative ways of learning. Only colonial and decolonised forms of knowledge. Only knowledge grounded on justice, and knowledge that perpetuates injustice. The root of the current planetary crisis is not climate change, deforestation or water scarcity. The root of the problem is environmental and social injustice.
Guardians Worldwide implements an ethos—not a framework— which we call Pedagogies of Justice. Everything we teach and learn, every knowledge and insight that we are privileged to offer and share, is ultimately based on the premise that we can only know, we can only act, if we do so with justice-- in its concrete, context-specific and practical forms-- at heart.
Take climate change. Climate change happens naturally as the Earth’s orbit around the sun shifts gradually, causing global freezing and global warming to happen over periods roughly every 100,000 years. The shift in 4+ degrees Celsius, which naturally occurs every 100,000 years, has occurred in only 100 years as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Can we therefore call the current event 'climate change'? The answer is no. What is happening is not climate change but something else.
Name the issue for what it is.
To address the current environmental, social and educational crises, we must stop using terms that are either purely conceptual, abstract, academic, or which serve the purpose of greenwashing. The event we are facing here is not another climate change: it is a collapse. The collapse of nature’s systems as a result of production and consumption at mass scale imposed by humans for their own self-gain. Thus, at the heart of the current predicament is the quest for justice. Climate and nature justice must be at the core of everything we do.
Why isn’t climate change taught and communicated as a quest concerning justice? Why is climate change taught and explained in the media as a scientific problem? Why is justice not at the heart of how we learn and communicate?
Education is not good. It is normative. Systems of education do not educate but normalise. Do as systems do. That is Education. Create a framework. Serve the interest of the institution or organisations that buys and sells learning. That is Education. From the inception of the word-- Latin in its root and colonial in its history-- Education is the artificial systematisation of learning. Yet learning is also a nature-centred and love prone process, a spiritual journey, aligned with growth, spread, change and transformation of life.
Education systems are not enough when they function according to hierarchical divisions established along the arbitrary dividing lines of age, class, race, ethnicity. Education systems perpetuate the normalcy of a dominant economic and political worldview, perpetuated by institutions and corporations, and ultimately predicated on injustice: i.e. exploitation and domination.
As the saying goes: You cannot change the Masters house with the Master’s tools. Within formal education, it is impossible to address injustice, because injustice is embedded in the fabric of how we all learn, what we learn, and what the purpose of learning is (i.e. to serve an unjust system). In other words, Education is often the instrument of normalised injustices. Higher Education, for instance, is an industry that often generates student debt, pension crisis, institutionalised racism, research funding bias. Underpaid or unpaid staff, casual contracts, lack of diversity and inclusivity across establishments. Wherever you look, Higher Education is often the normalisation of injustice.
Yet when Learning and Environment are synonymous; when natural environments become the universe of reference for learning and teaching, when nature is our university, or rather, pluriversity, whether environment means forest, river, sea, or mountain, then Nature is teacher. Loss of connection with Nature is therefore a threat to richer ways and forms of knowledge. Loss of natural environments poses threats to the biodiversity of knowledge, which nature learning and lived experience generate. Whether a biodiverse epistemology involves plant knowledge, food knowledge, cooking knowledge, or any other form of knowledge, from the cosmological to the most provincial, Nature is teacher. No Nature equals No Learning. No Nature equals ignorance, and ignorance breeds injustice.
We believe that it is vital to unlearn what nurseries, schools and universities often teach: frameworks and narratives based on disconnection from Nature. We believe that, to gain awareness and consciousness of earth systems, of the interconnected of being, as opposed to the individualism of accumulated information, we need to share and offer lived and traditional learnings imparted by knowledge keepers that are one with Nature, or who have a lived or traditional understanding . We must learn as wild rivers, as children, as Indigenous peoples, as mycelium, as local peoples, as makers and creatives, as humble soil. Learn from a criminal in jail, from a refugee in a camp, from a homeless person, from a victim of sex trafficking, from a child, from a disabled person, from a beehive, from a shark, from stones. Can you learn from those who are not usually acknowledged as knowledge keepers in a system of normalised injustice, from those who are made invisible or even persecuted for their non-conventional wisdoms? And if the answer is yes, which it is, then what kind of pedagogy would emerge for the future?
Guardians Worldwide does not seek learning according to a model, because models only breed imposed systems of learning. We learn by imagining a constellation of systems that offer us opportunities to connect and achieve reciprocity. The basis of justice is right there. Our Pedagogies of Justice are planted on reciprocity and collective responsibility: core pillars of justice. Our effort is to spread, not to grow. What our learning spreads is the conviction that a guardian, whether human or not-human, whether organic or inorganic, is someone who carries the weight of life—of love—and shares the weight along the journey. We believe in journeys where weighty lessons are carried-- not so much in light, artificial learning and training processes.
It is not enough to say that Indigenous Peoples are guardians and custodians of forest, river and climate. The responsibility to care for planet is one we must all carry. Justice is the practice that we all must commit to in a collective, bottom-up effort. Thus, in order to create spaces of shared responsibility and reciprocity, we believe in the need to constellate our spaces of learning, to connect and spread, like mycelium.
"What a course, I'm loving it, beautiful compost that is feeding my soul (: Thank you!"
Jane, North Yorkshire
"What an incredible group of humans! What a privilege to be learning from them"
Ashleigh, Devon (UK)
"Escribo para agradecer a todo el equipo de trabajo que hay detrás de cada encuentro y por las maravillosa reuniones.
Se genera un espacio de profunda sabiduría y unión que valoro en todas sus dimensiones. Gracias por todos los esfuerzos."
Javiera, Temuco (Chile)
"Thank you so much for this course. It has been such a rich conversation. It has had a deep impact on my being. I am trying not to hold my breath."
Coral, Sonoma (CA)
What our participants say
"Thank you so much for all the work you are doing. I cannot express the expanse of my gratitude for this course."
Krista, Philadelphia (US)
"It took someone special to create this space, to feel the need and act. I’m so very grateful. This hit so many nails on so many heads for me, that I almost burst!"
Sarah, Brecon (Wales)
“ I am loving this. It is as if a soul group has come together and I never knew so many people thought the same. We love, Guardians. We all love you!”
"A very big thank you for bringing this course together. I've had some very wonderful experiences as a result of some of the talks. It can be like stepping into another universe."
Vicky, Canterbury (UK)
"Wow! Muchas gracias por esto!! De verdad, muy agradecida por hacer posible este espacio de Guardianes en español."
Majo, Asuncion (Paraguay)
"I'm so excited with this course. It is so cool."
Rosie, Port-au-Prince (Haiti)
Guardiões é ótimo! Cada encontro é uma nova riqueza. Eu amo como vcs desenharam-lo e como vcs correm a organização. Bem, gratidão!
Mariana, Maranhao (Brazil)
“This course is wonderful, with continued informative content of global forests”
Ana, Santa Fe (NM)
"This session was incredible, such an eye opener and so inspirational. I can't wait to rewatch and soak up all the wisdom and knowledge."
“Guardians of the Forest makes my week. I wake up at 3am every Wednesday to follow it live. It’s amazing”
"Loving the course!!"
Rajni, Devon (UK)