6 Touchstones

6 Touchstones

Why 6 touchstones?

These touchstones can become points of departure and places to return to.  They stand as reminders of what we, as wild pedagogues, are trying to do.  And they challenge us to continue the work.  These touchstones are offered to all educators who are ready to expand their horizons, and are curious about the potential of wild pedagogies.  They are meant to be read, responded to, and revised as part of an evolving, situated, and lived practice. 

We welcome your critiques, research, practice-based elaboration as we further the discussion in the creation and formation of these touchstones.  They will evolve.

Nature as Co-Teacher


We believe that education is richer, for all involved, if the natural world and the many denizens that co-constitute placces, are actively engaged with, listened to, and taken seriously as part of the educative process.

This touchstone reminds educators to acknowledge, and then act, on the idea that those teachers capable of working with, caring for, and challenging student learning include more-than-human beings.  This is more than just learning from the natural world; it includes learning with and through it as well. 

Through this process, the learning experience is de-centered the taken-for-granted human voice and re-centres more-than-human voices.  All of the beings - the water, plant life, geography participate in the process of our coming to know the world and ourselves in it.

We must be willing to recognize and make space for these co-teachers to engage students meaningfully.  This means when these momens arise, we need to provide time and space for the lessons to run their course.


Complexity, the Unknown, and Spontaneity

Wild Pedagogues believe in re-negotiating educational practices to open up possibilities for embracing complexity and spontaneity.   We believe that education is richer for all involved, if there is room left for surprise.

If no single teacher or learner can know all about anything, then there always remains the possibility for the unexpected connection to be made, the unplanned event to occur, and the simple explanation to become more complex.

Wild Pedagogies challenges ideas of control in education by embracing complexity, inviting risk, and allowing for emergence.  This involves overcoming mainstream education's reliance on defined outcomes, known standards, and measured results.


Locating the Wild


We believe that the wild can be found everywhere, but that this recognition and the work of finding the wild is not necessarily easy.  The wild can be occluded, made hard to see, by cultural tools, by the colonial orientation of those doing the encountering, and, in urban spaces, by concrete itself.

Encountering the wild provides educators with complexity, opportunity, and challenges. Given that the growing majority of us live in super-urban, urban, and suburban places where the wild may not be easily and immediately apparent this touchstone presents both fertile ground and difficult work.

In bringing students to encounter the wild there are no educational guarantees: there is no simple solution to the problem of how to facilitate students' encounters with the wild, the self-willed, and self-arising others that surround us.



Time and Practice


We believe that building relationships with the natural world will, like any relationship, take time.  We also believe that discipline and practice are essential to this practice.

Developing a well understood concept of Wild Pedagogies requires the process of habit change is understood as one of deep examination of self and culture.

Environmental relationships and deep experiences spent outside produces intuition which plays a more important role than reason, which is a product of more recent cultural history.  Finding a place for intuition, sustained by organic time, is needed to allow for more expansive wild encounters.

Socio-Cultural Change


We believe that the way many humans currently exist on the planet needs changing, that this change is required at the cultural level, and that education has an important role to play in this project of cultural change.  We believe that education is always a political act. 

Current norms of the dominant Western culture, many of which infuse mainstream education, are environmentally problematic.  And because the future may no longer be predictable, we must disrupt current trends and prepare learners for an unclear and virtually unknown future.  This requires a conscious shifting of values and educational priorities that is fundamentally political in its purpose and practice.

Wild pedagogies are explicitly and deliberately about enabling mutually desirable socio-cultural change.  We hope for human relationships with the natural world that are much more equitable and interactive, that pursues flourishing for all beings for the express purpose of stopping the massive destruction being wrought and to mitigate accompanying problems such as climate change.


Building Alliances and

the Human Community


Wild pedagogues seek alliances and build community with others not only in the environmental world but across all people and groups concerned with justice.  In the context of wild pedagogy, democracy of this type helps us remember that there are communities, made up of humans and more-than-humans, affected by all decisions, and that all involved ought to have a say, in whatever language, voice, and form is their own.

As much as community is everywhere, it can often be forgotten or neglected in a culture that is predominantly individualistic.  Hence the suggestion of this touchstone for educators to foster a community in which the complex composition of local communities includes all members, including the more-than-human.

When we have hard and uncomfortable work to do, communities can be positive spaces to simultaneously encourage and challenge us.  Multiple perspectives allow each of us to see beyond our own limitations.