Risky/ing Sensing in Early Childhood

Risky/ing Sensing in Early Childhood:  Licked Sound, Hearing Cold, and Lumpy Vision

Workshop Facilitated by: Emily Coon, Nicole Land & Narda Nelson

Narda

Where: Human & Social Development Building, Room A250, University of Victoria

When: Monday November 23, 2015 – 9:30 am to 12:20 pm.

Description

In Euro-Western early childhood, sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste interrupt, supervise, and dictate sensory engagements for educator, children, and non-human bodies. This limited conception of sensorality stems from colonial conceptions of sensing rooted in developmental rhetoric. This interactive workshop takes seriously the politics of sensing, experimenting with questions of attending and attuning to difference, contestation, nomadism, relationality, and permeability in sensing. Together with participants, we will (re)imagine the potentiality of sensing in early childhood education, wondering how non-prescriptive and emergent sensory epistemologies might begin to transform (in) our engagements with children.

Conceptualizing Sensing

This workshop takes seriously the politics of sensing, experimenting with questions of attending and attuning to difference, contestation, nomadism, relationality, and permeability in sensing (Barad, 2012; Bird Rose, Cooke, & van Dooren, 2011; Tuck & Ree, 2013). “Can you hear Drum?”; “Feel how soft this feather is”; “I see your body is moving quickly” – echoing with the certainty of dominant Euro-Western epistemologies, sensing masquerades as ‘the Five Senses’ amid Canadian early childhood education. Sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste interrupt, supervise, and dictate sensory engagements for educator, children, and non-human bodies, sanitizing sensorality of any enchanting disobedience from colonial conceptions of sensing rooted in developmental rhetoric. Hierarchy, strict separation, and a prescribed quantity of senses cohere as the flavor of five-sense sensing, squeezing sensorality toward violent and mechanical epistemological spaces of stability and oppression. Nourished through their allegiance to coloniality, dominant conceptions mark sensing as profoundly political.

Even as the mechanized and oppressive body-logics of dominant Euro-Western bio-politics perch their bulk upon the sensory potential of the body, sensing escapes containment (Braidotti, 2006; Kind, 2010; Watts, 2013). Sensorality exerts resistance as affect, movement, contagion, tension, vibration, and permeability, persistently rupturing, mingling, and mattering in early childhood education. This resistance, we will argue, is not only intensely political and thus of pedagogical import, but also infused with difference and entangled with questions of caring, ethics, and relationality. This workshop will think with the relational, nomadic, and contested potentiality of sensing in early childhood education (Grosz, 2008; Simpson 2011; van Dooren, 2011): what becomes possible if we risk refusing the impulse to subsume sensing to only five categories? How might non-prescriptive sensory entanglements begin to transform (in) our engagements with children? Together with participants, we will (re)imagine how sensing might be conceptualized as relational, emergent, and fleeting, whereby to sense at all is to be attuned to, and affected by, nomadic sensory knowledges that reveal how artificial, colonial, and dangerous inviting only sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste into early childhood education might be.

Crows, shoulders, and deer hide: animal chatterings, muscular effort, and vibrational more-than-human connectivity – this workshop will engage with multispecies relations, flesh, and Drum to think with senses/ing that might emerge when sensory difference oscillates as pedagogical joy, risk, and generosity. Here, sensory difference goes beyond pathological deviation from five-sense sensing towards infusing such a lack-dependent dictate with the supple, fractal, and productive difference of affective sensory entanglements. This workshop will provoke participants to imagine what sensing, no longer trapped in the confines of five-sense sensing, might become in early childhood education (Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2012, 2013; Taylor & Blaise, 2014). What ethical and pedagogical possibilities for sensorality might emerge as sensing unfurls itself toward the mysteries of crows, shoulders, and Drum? What happens when we refuse to ask children if they can hear Drum, feel crows, or see bodies and instead engage with the colonial politics, fleshy realities, and (in)visibility of nomadic sensory epistemologies, as sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste dissolve into the difference-infused folds of an entangled sensorality?

Audience Engagement

This workshop will employ both a wide variety of multi-media technologies, including the sharing of digital images, collages, video, and sound clips, and an assortment of materials with which participants will engage. Material and multi-media provocations will be combined with theoretical prompts from early childhood, feminist new materialism(s), decolonization, embodiment, and multispecies literature. Taken together with multi-media provocations, workshop participants will experiment with a range of materials, entering into relations with these materials such that together, we might disrupt, translate, or transform our momentary engagements with sensing and sensorality.

Emily