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"Under the Tough Old Stars"
Ecopedagogical Essays

David Jardine

Volume Three of the Foundations of Holistic Education Series

This collection of David Jardine's distinctive writings cannot fail to open the reader's mind and spirit to deeper, richer ways of understanding the purpose of education. Jardine's ecological orientation to experience and meaning conceives the world as a marvelously interconnected living community. By pausing to consider our place as humans, as individuals, and as educators within this nexus of relations, he shows us that most of our accepted pedagogical goals and practices are shallow and essentially meaningless, allowing modern people only "to live consumptively."

Ecopedagogy, or an education rooted in ecological awareness, cultivates qualities of learning that go beyond mastery and manipulation:

Attention, devotion, care, worthiness, cherishing, fostering, renewal, hope: these are not just any words. They echo a deep sense of place, of remaining, of dwelling, of settling.
Jardine encourages us to develop a sense of kinship with life, an intellectual as well as emotional commitment to the welfare of the biotic community as a whole. Most of his essays are comprised of thoughtful meditations on academic subject matter and how conventional pedagogy might be transformed into ecopedagogy; the author reflects on how a hermeneutic (interpretive) approach to knowledge could make education become alive and immediate. He nicely illuminates these reflections by reporting some of his own personal experiences encountering nature. He listens to a robin's song, meets a bear, discovers unusual animal prints in the snow, and attends closely to smells and textures. He engages the natural world on its own terms, rather than imposing intellectual categories onto it.

Primarily, Jardine's work poses a challenge to Rene Descartes' dictum that reality is made up of "substances," things that require nothing outside themselves to exist. This Cartesian understanding, which underlies modern science, technology, and education, is "an ecological nightmare," says Jardine, because it forces us to approach any subject of knowledge by "severing its relations and forcing it to stand alone under the colonizing gaze of objectivism." Ecopedagogy teaches us, instead to encounter and dwell within the relationships that give meaning to all phenomena, all experiences. "Under the Tough Old Stars" takes the reader on a poignant journey of exploration, discovery and interpretation that immerses one within these relationships.

Psychology Press/Holistic Education Press
Box 328, Brandon, VT 05733-0328