Insect and Human Flourishing in Early Childhood Education: Learning and Crawling Together
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Insects and children cohabit common worlds, both subjects of their own lives and active agents. Their encounters may be characterized by mutual curiosity, indifference, or fear and can lead to multiple outcomes. Some children will be bitten or stung while others will be unhurt; some insects will not survive an encounter while others will be cared for as friends. The literature on insect/human relations indicates that many people have negative perceptions of most insects, which can have profound material consequences; consider the many challenges insects face at the individual, population, and species level due to human activity. Insects feature in various ways in early years and elementary education, from highly anthropomorphized charismatic microfauna in children’s media and literature to pinned collections of dead bodies, from captives in classroom terrariums and in insectariums to encounters inside and outside the classroom both planned and serendipitous. Drawing on our own teaching experiences and writing in critical animal studies, environmental and interspecies education that focuses on our relationships with other animals, and common world pedagogies, we question the anthropocentric nature of many of these encounters and ask how we might offer young children opportunities to develop ethical and caring relationships with insects, including those who are commonly feared, disliked, or simply overlooked. We argue that intersubjective learning that goes beyond the human and that recognizes the messiness and complexity of insect/human relations holds promise for multispecies flourishing.
KeywordsInsects Insect/human relations Early childhood education Common world pedagogy Interspecies education Environmental education Critical animal studies
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