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?

Hats off and foaming brews

Once again, children are very interested in the foam that is associated with the thrombolites. As on other days, a common theory is that the thrombolites are having a bubble bath, but more on that later.

What do thrombolites regard as waste? What causes the bubbles, are they waste-full?

A minor gesture (Manning 2016) comes from relating to the hats.

“In the context of research-creation, the question is how a practice is
capable of opening up the field such that minor gestures can emerge, this
despite the value placed on the more recognizable and predictable grand
gestures” (Manning 2016, 66)

Caps seem to proliferate closer to the shore and in the reeds; some staying, fading and slowly sinking into the mud, others visiting for a short time before being retrieved by passersby or Steve from PHCC.

This purple cap was a fleeting visitor dropping into see the blue cap of earlier posts before being plucked by another tourist and taken away on more adventures. Neither the cap or its new handler left much visible trace.

Crowned and brimmed hats sail off the end of the boardwalk and come to rest amongst the thrombolites.

How do thrombolites relate to our discards? Are our discarded hats wasted?

We wonder how long these hats have been here, now that we have noticed them (four altogether at last count)? They are of a similar size, colour, shape and texture to the thrombolites and pass themselves off as such without careful observation.

One of the children noticed the hats and said, “the hats are trying to look like thrombolites!” And one child drew a thromoblitehat! 


Can a hat become a thrombolite? Will the microbial mats that form them colonise the hat, petrifying the cloth to form another layer and build another structure? Have any of the other thrombolites already grown from hats? How else do the thrombolites and hats relate?

Can we make a thrombolite from a hat? Spinning a yarn about a hat becoming a thrombolite might be a more appropriate and sustainable minor gesture. A research-creation using the skills and materials we have with us and entangling them amidst new thoughts bubbling up from the experience of an event. An event arising from spending time noticing as we relate to an emerging perception of place and listen to the children.

But back, now, to the foaming brew…

Bubbles and the similarity to bubble baths; some children have wanted to swim or wade amongst the thrombolites and the water looks warm. One child thought dropping something in the water and retrieving it was a good segue; another was caught by the seat of his pants by an agile father as the child tried to emulate the swans seen through the birding scopes set up by Bill this week.

Warm water – how do the thrombolites feel about warm water? Warm enough to swim in? Warm enough for a comfortable bubble bath? Warm enough to make that morning brew? Any of these may be a possibility if the globe continues to warm.

And what about the bubbles? What causes them? Are they harmful? Are they are product of non/human waste? Do the thrombolites like bubble baths? Are bubblebaths good for thrombolites?

The bubbles may form as a result of fertiliser and nutrient runoff from surrounding human activity? Perhaps the increasing salinity of the lake as it relates to the afternoon sea breeze stirs up the froth. Is the water alkaline like washing soda – that makes bubbles when you stir it up.

Tannins released from surrounding vegetation and finding its way into the lake causes the froth, someone else suggests – Hmmm, are tannins tree waste? Or do the ducks swimming stir up the water like a milkshake and form froth icebergs?

Maybe it is the soap and shampoo residue from all the hats?

Annamaria Weldon in The Lake’s Apprentice (2014, 45) mentions the prevailing winds heaping up the foam:

It is caused by organic processes, not a sign of detergent. However, concentrations in the nutrient levels of the lakes become more apparent in bunuru, because heat triggers algal activity (which is increased by the presence of nutrients).”

We are just about to move into the Noongar season bunuru (Feb-Mar) from birak (Dec-Jan). So the lake may become a warm, foaming brew! Is this a matter for concern? Should we care? What are the facts of the matter?


Manning, E. (2016). The minor gesture. Duke University Press.

Weldon, A. (2014). The Lake’s Apprentice. UWAP.