Common Worlding and Pedagogical Documentation

In situating this multispecies ethnography within a common worlds framework (Pacini-Ketchabaw, Taylor, & Blaise, 2016; Taylor, 2013, 2017; Taylor & Giugni, 2012; Taylor & Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2019), we recognise that nature and culture, humans and nonhumans are not separate. Rather, they are infinitely interconnected in a constant state of intra action (Barad, 2007) whereby they simultaneously affect and are affected by each other.  Common worlds “are always already full of inherited messy connections [and] entangled and uneven historical and geographical relations, political tensions, ethical dilemmas and unending possibilities” (Taylor, 2013, p. 62). Thus children, nature, thrombolites, water, politics, trees, histories, are all inextricably entangled. Furthermore, common worlds relations are constantly being made and remade in an ongoing process of progressive composition (Latour, 2004).

The messy, entangled deep time ecology of the Lake Clifton thrombolites including non/human infrastructure that facilitates visitors and residents – human, insect, arachnid and avian. Looking west towards the present coastline of the Indian Ocean, behind intercoastal dunes with pockets of tuart woodlands and coastal heathlands. Rusty freshwater springs seeping through tangled rushes (waagal’s whiskers) and samphire to lake foreshore and thrombolites and the boardwalk across shallow salty water. Remnant fenceposts, cut from local timber, recall a settler past. 

In following common world relations, we draw from the multimodal and multiperspectival strategies of “pedagogical documentation”, the systematic way of researching with children used in the educational project in the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy (Fleet, Patterson, & Robertson, 2017; Giudici, Rinaldi, & Krechevsky, 2001).

Pedagogical documentation uses an array of strategies, for example: conversation, drawing, playing, making, pretending, photographing, experimenting. Similar to the French do-it-yourself artisan, the bricoleur, these strategies allow us to use what is on hand and available at the time, enabling us to trace unfolding common world relations as they emerge.


Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.
Fleet, A., Patterson, C., & Robertson, J. (Eds.). (2017). Pedagogical documentation in early years practice: Seeing through multiple perspectives. London, United Kingdom: SAGE.
Giudici, C., Rinaldi, C., & Krechevsky, M. (Eds.). (2001). Making learning visible: Children as individual and group learners. Reggio Emilia, Italy: Reggio Children.
Latour, B. (2004). Politics of nature: How to bring the sciences into democracy (C. Porter, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Taylor, A., & Blaise, M. (2016). Decentring the human in multispecies ethnographies. In C. A. Taylor & C. Hughes (Eds.), Posthuman research practices in education.(pp. 149-167). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Taylor, A. (2013). Reconfiguring the natures of childhood. London: Routledge.
Taylor, A. (2017). Beyond stewardship: Common world pedagogies for the Anthropocene. Environmental Education Research, 23(10), 1448-1461. doi:10.1080/13504622.2017.1325452
Taylor, A., & Giugni, M. (2012). Common worlds: Reconceptualising inclusion in early childhood communities. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 13(2), 108-119. doi:10.2304/ciec.2012.13.2.108
Taylor, A., & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2019). The common worlds of children and animals: Relational ethics for entangled lives. London: Routledge.

Hats off to beverages and other associated litter – traces of human passing

The message about being sun smart and hydrated in the heat seems to be well heeded by visitors if the traces left behind are anything to go by. On our December 23rd walk, we were surprised by the number of hats left behind- red, pink, blue….  

The breeze was gentle, barely rippling the water and not troubling our hats at all. (The beautiful Christmas spiders of more concern to those who went bare headed but stay tuned for more on that).

However, when a stiff afternoon sea breeze comes gusting across the lake, it would send hats cartwheeling off heads to sail briefly on foam topped waves before sinking into the lake or being caught in the reeds of the lakeshore. Lost and discarded by misadventure rather than deliberately thrown away.

What do the reeds do with these captured ‘treasures’? 

One of several hats trapped by reeds and sinking into the mud of the lake.

Where do the microfibres go as this hat breaks down?

Do thrombolites contain nanoplastics?

Beverage containers are noticeably discarded waste marking the edges of the path and leaving rusted skeletons in the shallows.

What stories could these containers tell?

Where have they come from, who drank from them and how do they feel about being entangled here and becoming redundant and extinct?

Cigarette butts and eutrophication from nutrient rich runoff. Factors that also change the ecology and chances of survival for this Threatened Ecological Community.

A 1 in 5 chance of winning!!

Are they the odds offered on the thrombolites surviving?