What Does Communal Growth Require?

What does communal growth require? What questions will we pursue together? Why? And what impact do we notice our pursuits have on our community? This episode is arriving late May 2023.


  Welcome to pursuing questions.     Imprints of inquiry, possibilities for play, and     provocations for living. This podcast, formerly known as The     Playful Podcast, is for those cultivating an ethos towards     mutual flourishing, healing, learning, and living well     throughout the human experience.     Here we linger at the intersections of reflection and     revisiting in hopes of nudging ourselves into intentional,     innovative, and reclaimed ways of being, thinking, and     imagining. Within our lifelong learning journeys, we transcend     predetermined scripts and boundaries by harnessing the     interdisciplinary wisdom of early childhood educators and     really anyone who facilitates experiences with humans, big or     small.     Your host, Kim Barton and I am living, loving, learning and     playing in Guelph ON the city known as Two Rivers and the     Lands, traditionally governed by the Dish with One Spoon     covenant. Join me in the quest within the questions. I’m     excited to wonder, wonder, marvel and play alongside you.        

So I’m feeling so inspired right now to just capture how a few of     the big ideas I’ve had lately suddenly feel connected and     intersected.     And that’s always an important feeling for me when, when     there’s kind of this serendipitous alignment I’ve     known for many years that connection between myself or     within myself, between myself and others, myself and the more     than human world and between big ideas, is something that I just     trust about the world.     As something that I follow because I hold my stand to     pursue curiosity over compliance and so I trust these     intersections that don’t always seem logical or don’t always.     Aren’t always um visible at different points in time. I believe they reveal     themselves when they’re supposed to anyways, so here we go, some     big ideas.     I’ve been thinking lately about how, as a pedagogical leader, I often am gathering human beings     together. Usually big human beings, adults, pre service     education students or early childhood educators, sometimes     families. And so it’s become really important to me to be     curious about my.     Ethics around gathering people, How I start a gathering, what my     intentions are, how I move through the experience that I’ve     curated, and however, reflect on what we’ve experienced to     continue.       always aware that we Co create     the experience and I don’t hold all the.     Information or knowledge or potential for growth.     And so within my thinking of gathering.     I often well, I guess lately I’ve been thinking like what     does it mean to feel safe? What does it mean to feel     comfortable?     What does it mean to feel like the space is tolerable?     What does it mean for it to feel uncomfortable, and what does it     mean for it to be unbearable?     And I asked these questions because so often as adults we’re     told that our learning and our growth.     Is uncomfortable.     And.     Well, I somehow believe that to be true, and I know I’ve felt it     in my body. I also know or I also believe that learning     happens in relationship.     And through Co regulation, or at least being in a state of being     regulated enough that my brain can form new connections and I     can use my prefrontal cortex to critically think and reflect on     what is happening.     One of the biggest reasons I feel challenged by this idea of     growth and discomfort is because.     Of what I know about human nervous systems, when our     nervous systems are flooded with stress, the blood flow goes from     our limbs and from our prefrontal cortex to our core     areas, including our heart and limbic system where amygdala is     and we make decisions based on instinct.     And reflex to survive.     And so if I’m if I’m uncomfortable enough or if I’m     in an unbearable situation, I actually don’t think I can learn     and learn to do anything differently or grow.

So I     challenge this idea just a little bit because I actually     think that, like, I have to be relaxed enough that I’m in a     regulated state in order.     To use my full brain capacity, my free prefrontal cortex, and     to.     Think differently, right on learn or learn in the first     place.     So.     How then do I think about this idea of growth being uncomfortable.     Thankfully I was recently at an institute with Anne Marie     Coughlin and Laura McGee Baird and if you have the chance to     attend, I cannot recommend it enough.     What they talked about and I don’t want to give it all away,     but if we think about how plants grow.     Where does growth occur on a plant?     It’s often from the most vulnerable parts, the most     flexible, tender, not fully formed yet places.     And so I think growth requires an uncertainty.     The more certain we are, the more rooted we are.     And yet growth happens at these tips.     These edges of…   not yet certain.     And then the same, the essence of what Laurie and and Marie     actually said was that learning happens invulnerability. And I     think that’s a good Brené Brown quote in there to wrap it all     together.     And so I I want to move forward with that, but I want to add one     more piece.

My dad is has a background in being an athlete     and he’s often talked about how exercise tears our muscles. And     so if we exercise and exercise and exercise and exercise, we’re     actually just tearing down. We’re not growing and     rebuilding.     The growth in rebuilding happens in rest.     So I want to add that this communal growth, when we come     together and gather, happens through both vulnerability and     rest and regulation.     So then that asks the question of a community as we gather,     what are we willing to experience together in the     pursuit of sharing ideas, perspectives, questions, and     growth?     How do we move from a place of safety and comfort into     tolerability, vulnerability, bravery, and at times,     discomfort?     How do we know the edge of where that moves into being     unbearable, and how do we come back into our regulation and     rest?     To recover from growth.     So I guess all of this to say that, you know, learning is     actually an ebb and flow between vulnerability.     Stress and rest and regulation. We need our basic needs to be in     a state where we can effectively learn.    

And just to add one more complexity here, I recently     learned that.     Compassion.     Actually requires our prefrontal cortex to be engaged.     We can’t experience compassion in the state of fight or flight     or stress or high anxiety when our amygdala is getting all of     our nutrients and blood.     Because our prefrontal cortex is offline, and we need those brain     structures to think about and reflect upon the emotion that     we’re experiencing and that another is showing us.     And when we’re stressed, those boundaries between another     feelings, what we’re seeing in our feelings get blurred. And     that’s actually where this idea of compassion fatigue comes in,     because our sense of self and other is compromised and we are     flooded even more by anothers emotions instead of being able     to think about them and to.     Engage that the kind of process by which we convey compact, like     empathy, and that we enact compassion in action.     I’ve been privileged enough to work alongside colleagues who     have taken up.     With these ideas and put them into action and lived and     breathed this way of being in community with people and     exploring all the edges of growth and and in doing so, they’ve enacted the importance     of having agreements. When we come together, Are we agreeing     to be vulnerable? What does it take to be vulnerable together?     I want to live in a world where.     We each have the tools.     To rest, recover and regulate as needed along this journey of     growth and vulnerability together.     The ability to kind of be in communal, you know,     vulnerability is I think what Ontario’s pedagogy intends to     ask of us because it asks us to consider pedagogical thought as     asking ourselves what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and     what impact it has on our community. And I think.     It’s asking that of us individually in in micro     moments. You know when a child says I can’t put on my boot…     what do we do? Why? What impact does it have? But it also asks     that of us, I think on a much more macro level and I don’t     think it’s quite embedded.     What it means to us that in groups together.     How do we create the conditions to, as a community, reflect on     what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and what impact it’s     having?     And so as a pedagogical leader, I think that.     That’s the space I’m living in lately, at least somebody who’s     like figuring out what pedagogical leadership means and     entails.     I want to live in a world where we can talk together about what     we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what impact it’s having on     each other and.     Other humans, and more than humans around us.    

And I think, I guess I say this because.     Um.     I’m grounding myself in an ethos towards.     Mutual flourishing, healing, learning, and living well     throughout the human experience from birth until death, and to     ask hard, unanswerable questions throughout our time that launch     us into lines of flight that make available so many possible.     Um journeys so that we can choose with awareness where we     might want to go with our lives and time together.     In saying that.     I’m reminded that I stand to pursue curiosity over     compliance.     That’s a hard thing to stand in.    

As an eldest daughter of three.     Um, I took on this role of wanting to be the easy child,     the one that did comply, the one that was.     Told through hidden messaging that I was perfect. That’s where     I found my value in just going with the flow and making things     easy, being flexible, saying yes to whatever was needed.     Um, it was actually my middle sibling who taught me that     there’s there are other possibilities. What else is     possible other than compliance? We can say no, we can question.     And then my youngest sibling.     Is the one who made me curious.     About.     Taking those questions up in a much bigger way.     My youngest sibling, as you’ve maybe heard on this podcast     before, lives with Down syndrome, and from the age of     eight I became.     A young caregiver for her and within our family dynamics.     And that is what launched me into, um, a lifelong journey of     being curious about what it means to care and facilitate and     be in relationship and you know, be a mentor in someones human     experience.     And I think you know, there’s so much privilege in that I have an awareness and a     lived experience about.     A life that has looked.     Different that we’re than what we’re told is normal. Different     than what we’re told is possible. You know, I think my     parents were told things when she was born, like she’s never     going to read, and yet she does.     You know, there’s been lots of messaging that says she might     not live alone or um.     You know, a list of endless things that she may not ever be     able to do in in her life. And yet here we are asking questions     about what she can do and asking her what she wants to do with     her life and going from there. And so that brings me, or that     keeps me in this sort of space of thinking pedagogically about     human beings and what can we do? Why do we want to do them and     how are we going to go about doing them?        

I guess this whole story about compliance and and sisterhood     reminds me that I’ve now found my way to valuing curiosity. And     I I’ve known I was a curious person for a long time, but to     actually value that and to use curiosity as a compass took me     so long. Because society doesn’t really value curiosity. It     doesn’t necessarily make you money, doesn’t necessarily     support your relationships. In fact, it can really cause some     relational challenges and stress when.     You know asking ask questions at the wrong time or you want to     know more when someone doesn’t want to talk about it. Or.     You know, you remain open to ideas that don’t seem logical or     that seem threatening to a relationship.     So to stand and curiosity over compliance, um.     You know, really, really is interesting from that     perspective. And just one other way that it’s kind of really     interesting is that we’ve we’ve learned in an embodied way     through the public school system to comply with close ended     questions or requests to answer questions like what colour is     this, what province do we live in, how many, how much?     What year?     Sit down.     Stand in line, Cross your legs.     Um. And this hasn’t created structures for openness that     has. This literally has wired us to comply, or to find solutions,     rather than to pursue unanswerable quests that might     take years or lifetimes.     So standing in the pursuit of curiosity over compliance.     Is a divine calling to take the long view with things and to     trust that there’s a journey here worthy of pursuit.     And to you know if you roadblocks or stumbling blocks     or you know to view any like no that I get right on this journey     of like finding yeses and finding doors that are open.     Requires not only that long view and that curiosity, but it also     involves the whole community. This work is not meant to be     done in isolation and any.     Idea that I put into action is so much.     More robust when bolstered by.     That of a whole community.     I hope that’s not too vague, I’m trying not to.     Talk about things I’m not ready to talk about, but I am also     trying to mark this way of thinking about bringing people     together in a way that allows us to.     Explore curiosity.     To really be invulnerable, space together.     In a way that doesn’t just.     Reinforce compliance.     Or agreement, but that actually.     Invites us into curiosity collectively.     In our pursuit.     Throughout the human experience.    

All right, that is all I have to say. Hopefully there’s something     in there that will make you think a little bit and perhaps     open you towards trying new ideas. I hope that you’re able     to stay playful and embrace the quest within the questions.  

The Essential Shift

Sometimes we are moved into shifts. And that is what happened here. In the process of refining my values, vision, intentions, and ethos within this space, I was moved to reconsider the name of the this podcast. While play is embedded within my values, I realized I required a new name that opened me towards new possibilities and propelled me to take up the quest within the questions.  Welcome to Pursuing Questions, formerly known as The Playful Podcast: Imprints of Inquiry. Possibilities for Play. Provocations for Living. Welcome to the quest within the questions.


Welcome to pursuing questions.     Imprints of inquiry, possibilities for play, and     provocations for living. This podcast, formerly known as The     Playful Podcast, is for those cultivating an ethos towards     mutual flourishing, healing, learning, and living well     throughout the human experience.     Here we linger at the intersections of reflection and     revisiting in hopes of nudging ourselves into intentional,     innovative, and reclaimed ways of being, thinking and     imagining. Within our lifelong learning journeys, we transcend     predetermined scripts and boundaries by harnessing the     interdisciplinary wisdom of early childhood educators and     really, anyone who facilitates experiences with humans, big or     small. I’m your host, Kim Barton, and I am living, loving,     learning, and playing in Guelph ON the city known as two.     Rivers and the lands traditionally governed by the     dish with one spoon Covenant. Join me in the quest within the     questions. I’m excited to wonder, Wonder, Marvel and play     alongside you.        

Welcome to another mini episode. This felt necessary to share,     and I kind of feel vulnerable in doing it at the same time     because.     What I’m going to claim here is a shift for me that happened in     this podcast and the reason I feel vulnerable is because I     already just did some shifting. I have a new logo. I sort of     regenerated or re energized this podcast after a long pause and     so sort of shifting or evolving.     Again, feels a bit whimsical or noncommittal or a bit.     I don’t know.     Like I might lose something that I started perhaps.     And at the same time the shift feels so aligned with my values.     And that’s something I’ll actually talk about a little bit     more in this episode. But, um, I guess what I’m saying is I just     need to claim this shift that’s happening internally for me and     through this podcast so that you know what to expect. And also     that I can get clear on my vision for this space because     clearly it’s evolved over the past two years.     And I I kind of wanted to start with a little reintroduction of     myself.     And if you know me, this might feel funny, but also it might be     a good time for me to kind of, I don’t know, like reacquaint     myself with you. And I’d invite you to do the same next time we     encounter each other.

I guess to start, my name is Kim. I am a     proud, passionate and very privileged early childhood     educator. I am one of those people who has worked with     children and humans since I was, like, allowed to, since I, like,     completed my babysitting course. But the interesting thing for me     is that as I became.     An adult and participating in professional.     Accreditation. I guess I became more and more curious about     adults who work with young children, and I’m starting to     think that this is kind of my.     Thing, at least for the next few years. And it makes sense     because I.     Have worked in the several different leadership capacities,     I would say I’m still very much an emerging leader. I am still     fully finding my footing. I often say I feel like a toddler.     I’m like stumbling around figuring out how to move in this     role.     In my current role, I am like four months old, I think, and so     grateful. I’ve so much gratitude for the support I have in my     role and to be in a position where I get to talk with adults     about what they’re experiencing.     Um, for the past two years I’ve worked as a pedagogical leader     in a couple different organizations.     I worked for a college and then a municipality, and now for an     individual childcare program.     And I guess the point in me talking about my role is that     it’s really allowed me to become even more curious about how educators learn and play and flourish, particularly when working in relationship based fields like early childhood education, but also social work or anyone who’s designing     experiences or programming for other humans.     And initially I started this podcast, I think when I started     in my role as a pedagogical leader, or around the same time     at least. And I’ve been thinking about a podcast for a while and     I’ve been blogging and things like that. And in all honesty,     when I first started the podcast I had hopes and dreams that it     would become a source of professional learning for other     adults. And yet would I discovered, is that it became a     reflective practice tool and a pedagogical documentation     practice for myself.     At the same time I also stumbled into some really big ideas and     some.     Really huge questions.     That I felt like, couldn’t really be pursued when calling     it the playful podcast or by suggesting that it was sort of a     place to find professional learning.  

In order to kind of follow these ideas, I felt like I     needed to shift away from this being a place to find tools or     strategies or sort of how to type of answers and instead     shift towards being a space of generating questions.     And really listening to the nuances of ideas and knowledge and questions and reflections and the capturing of moments, all of those things. And I guess as somebody who is so deeply curious, almost to a fault.     I found that I really needed a space to marinate in some ideas     and to kind of generate new possibilities. Consider how  different ideas or theories or concepts connect and where their  edges are the edges of what we know and what we don’t know yet. I think there’s so much out there that we don’t know enough     about, and I think children are really good at asking us     questions that the world has never really heard before and     certainly never asked before.    

So I guess to stay aligned with all of these sort of ideas, I     started changing my logo about a year ago. I wanted something     that reflected this idea of revisiting my obsession with     spirals.     The logo with the footprint.     It was really just me trying to play around with the spiral     imagery, and I wanted something that reflected sort of like     topography lines and the layering, kind of insinuating,     like a map or the process of mapping. And I also wanted     something that resembled kind of like a fingerprint, an imprint.     Something that kind of signals that each episode is merely like     one trace of where I have been at one point in time, and kind     of marking the landscape and geography of my thinking. There     are some larger threads being explored throughout the seasons     of Inquiry, for sure.     All of this really is to say that the process of generating a     new logo actually and and thinking about spirals got me     thinking about like, well, what is my vision here? Like, where     are my guiding values? What’s my ethos in this podcast? Because     I’ve dabbled in having some guests on and I’ve really sort     of let that go as a priority because I wanted to be clear on     what I was really wanting to do and say and pursue here.     So let me just share a few of the values that I’m working from     at this moment in time.    

The first is interconnection. Um, although I often prefer the     term interdependence, I have known for many years that I have     a value of interconnection and that it guides me to pursue     connection always and leading through connection. And so this     shows up as me sort of me being very mobilized by serendipity     and the linking of different ideas, those edges and     boundaries of where concepts connect, and also connection in     the form of relationships. We are all connected in multitudes.     My next value here is curiosity. I truly view curiosity as my     compass. I ask questions and work from a place of pursuing     curiosity over compliance, normalcy, or acceptance, and I     believe in living the questions now, hence the new title     Pursuing questions. Another value I have is reciprocity. I     believe in sharing knowledge generously. I believe in making     thinking available and accessible to others, which is     similar to making learning visible.     Through the practice of pedagogical documentation.     And this is because I aim to live in a world where we receive     and give openly.     So here is a place where I’m model generous knowledge,     sharing not only knowledge that I have, but also bringing     forward knowledge that I have been gifted or entered into     relationship with.     Another value I hold is wisdom. I believe in entering into     embodied relationship with wisdom as lived, rather than     consuming or producing facts or information. And you’ll see this     in one of my upcoming episodes at least, where I talk about     sort of the limits of research and sort of the expansiveness of     pedagogy.     So in that regard, I consider lived experience and     generational knowledge to be as valued as reliable and     reproducible data.     And then finally, my last value is kind of a quirky one. It’s     upwards spirals and this really just means joy, flow and     purpose, I believe in pursuing the paths towards and the     ingredients to sustain upward spirals of flourishing and     passion. So those are my values.    

When it comes to my sort of vision and ethos, I want to say     it’s what I’ve started to include in my introductions. So     basically, it’s the pursuit towards mutual flourishing,     healing, living and learning well throughout the human     experience. And I often say how we do this, and it’s through     lingering in dialogue and sort of generating new ways of     thinking and reflecting on our world.     And then interestingly, the process of sort of writing that     vision and reflecting on my values led me to, I don’t really     know what to call this. I don’t know if it’s like I’m, I don’t     think it’s a mission either way. I just sort of have three other     guideposts that I’m working from and that’s this idea of imprints     of inquiry, possibilities for play and provocations for living     and.     And so Imprints of Inquiry is just this idea that.     This is like that moment in time that sort of trace, and it’s     because I believe that these traces are worthy of being     studied through revisiting. And I guess the purpose of this is     really just to cultivate my own awareness, reflection, and     empowerment in being able to move my practice from feedback     to myself.     And then Possibilities for Play is really just here because I     strive to expand the potential of parallel practices.     I think that it’s through this sharing of knowledge, half     knowledges, half thoughts, whatever. That’s how we sort of     become nudged within our journeys, whether that’s     forwards or towards something new or back to something to     revisit and and reclaim it. And I think it’s this movement that     allows us to be improvisational and nimble and to be moved by     what we experience and reflect on and hear from others.     And then finally provocations for living. This reflects that I       about fostering our     dispositions, pursuing multi species flourishing, really     wanting to broaden relationships across humans but also across     and between them more than human world.     And I also want to unravel this word pedagogy and inspect its     ideals, protagonists and assumptions.     This, to me, is not just about learning in the way that we’ve     learned about it, but it’s also a reflection of living     throughout the human experience.     So in the spirit of sharing knowledge generously, I also     just wanted to be clear on a few of the things that have inspired     me, and I can’t remember at this moment in time what I’ve shared     on here already and what I haven’t.

So I’m just going to     read a few poems that that really speak to me.     The 1st and the reason behind the name change is a poem by     Rainer Maria Rilke. Without further ado, here’s the poem.     Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart.     And try to love the questions themselves, as if they are     locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t     search for the answers which could not be given to you now,     because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to     live everything. Live the questions now, perhaps then,     someday, far into the future, you will gradually, without even     noticing it, live your way into the answer.    

And there you have it, pursuing questions.    

The other segment I wanted to read is by Carolina Rinaldi, and     I might have read this in an old episode, but it’s about the     pedagogy of listening.     So Carlina Rinaldi says. What is listening?     Listening should be sensitive to the patterns that connect us to     others.     Our understanding in our own being are a small part of a     broader integrated knowledge that holds the universe     together.     Listening should be open and sensitive to the need to listen     and be listened to and the need to listen with all our senses,     not just our ears.     Listening should recognize the many languages, symbols, and     codes that people use to express themselves and communicate.     Listening to ourselves. Internal listening encourages us to     listen to others, but in turn is generated when others listen to     us.     Listening takes time. When you really listen, you get into the     time of dialogue and interior reflection and interior time       but also past and future time,     and is therefore outside chronological time. It is a time     full of silences.     Listening is generated by curiosity, desire, doubt and     uncertainty. It is not insecurity but the reassurance     that every truth is so only if we are aware of its limits and     its possible falsification. And here’s the bit that I love     listening produces questions, not answers.     Listening is emotion. It is generated by emotions, is     influenced by the emotions of others, and it stimulates     emotions. Listening should welcome and be open to     differences, recognizing the values of others,     interpretations and places.     Listening is an active.     Gloves.     Reputation giving meaning to the message and valuing those who     are.     Listening is not.     It requires a deep awareness and a suspension of our judgments     and prejudices. It requires openness to change. It demands     that we value the unknown and overcome the feelings of     emptiness and precariousness that we experience when our     certainties are questioned.     Thus, the pedagogy of listening is not only a pedagogy for     school, but also an attitude for life.    

And there you have it.     The intersection of questions and listening and sharing knowledge.     I hope this helps to clarify why I felt the shift in the name was     so essential and necessary. I guess I typically end the     episodes by saying stay playful, which I will continue, but I     also want to say keep taking up the quest within the questions.

What Moves Us?

From literally exploring movement across our program to being moved emotionally, and to reflecting on how movement during the spring of 2023 is very timely, this episode stretches the question “what moves us?” to its edges. The episode captures my interpretations of children and educators exploring movement and what led us to generating this question as the title for our art exhibit this year. A link to this episode was posted at the art exhibit for students, faculty, staff, and families to listen to and reflect upon. This episode is intended to model how we can seek out new understandings to everyday observations that then launch us into asking huge questions about how the world works. You might want to brace yourself for some abstract thinking to stay with me for this one, and when you do, I hope it launches you into new ways of thinking about your experiences that move you, too.


Welcome to the Playful Podcast, a podcast for those who are curious about cultivating an ethos towards mutual flourishing, learning, healing, playing, and living well. Here we linger at intersections of learning opportunities, reflections, and moments that transcend the boundaries of education, recreation, or occupation specific practices. I’m your host Kim Barton, a proud early childhood educator looking to harness the interdisciplinary wisdom of all early childhood educators. Welcome to the journey. I’m excited to play and learn along with you.

What moves us? This is a question I’ve been holding for the past few months that has taken me to some interesting places. And it’s caused me to rethink what the question even means and and what it could invite. And so let me just start by saying that wondering about movement is so timely. If we look around, it’s the time of year where the sky is blue again. For the first time in a while, the buds are opening on the trees, there are crocuses popping up, and human beings are outdoors just a little bit more than we were before. We’re catching the first of spring, beautiful sunrises that are happening earlier. There’s warmth in the air, the snow is melting and slipping away, and there’s not just local movement on our speed river. But the rivers of all across Ontario are absorbing all the melting snow, resulting in rivers rising and flowing and moving with such speed. And so it’s a time of year when I feel like there’s change in the air, and I cannot help but notice movement all around me. From children’s explorations to the metaphor of moving seasons. This question just feels like what we’re all experiencing right now. This episode shares several examples of what I’m noticing in terms of movement and how I’m interpreting these noticing things, and how I’m weaving these notice things into a story. And then, as a result of this story, I’m prompting further questions and hopes that as you hear this, you ask questions back. This episode will reveal what led me to generating the title, what moves us for a particular art show that the organization I work at is hosting? And in saying that, this episode is not only for those who typically listen to this podcast, but invites students at the university and faculty and family members to hear some of my reflections. So in saying this, I just want to. Honor that we move together. We stand still together we live, work, play, and love on indigenous land, the Treaty lands of Mississaugas of the credits, the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Wendat, and Attawandaron Peoples. Guelph, also known as Two Rivers, resides within the dish with one spoon covenant, which has been teaching me to move in collaborative ways and with reciprocity, to be mindful of what it means to be moved. Who is moved, who is taken, which living beings are consumed and who needs to stay, grow and be nurtured or shared more generously? I’m so grateful to be able to continuously learn about what it means to share and move on this area of the world every day.

So with that, I want to start with a bit of a reflection about first noticing movement a few months ago when I was very new to my role. I remember one day I was conducting student observations in a classroom and I noticed that children in one of the classrooms were holding hands and spinning in circles when the song let it go comes on. There was nothing really extraordinary about this observation. The song let it go has been playing in early learning spaces since Frozen first came out, and children dancing in the form of spinning is well documented. Moving to music is a common developmental skill, likely because the inner ear is actually connected to our vestibular system, which many of us know, but it compels us to move to sound. So in these ways, dancing and movement to music is not necessarily what stood out to me initially, but it was the spinning in the circle, and I was just curious, like, was this circle sort of reflective of friendship and sort of social development? Was there something about the song that prompted spinning or circles in some form? I wasn’t really sure. What compelled children to explore rotation? Then one of the educators let me know that children always do that curious, I thought, and worthy of further thought. And then a few days later, an educator from another preschool classroom shared with me that she was noticing one child spinning in circles and was wondering how we could respond. And admittedly, while my initial reaction was to discuss safety and classroom design to limit the spinning. I paused because I remembered my observation from a few days before and was kind of wondering what could we do about spinning if we’re noticing it in multiple classrooms? I wondered what if instead of thinking about health and safety, we think about what is getting in the way of children exploring rotation as the curriculum could we explore rotation? Could we take this up as an invitation to explore rotation? And in what ways is spinning and rotation worthy of our attention and building curriculum around? What if, instead of doing this as a behavior to manage that right in front of us? Is what we could pursue. So I started to ask, what do we know about swimming or rotation or circularity and the effect of gravity on objects in motion? Only then did I start to notice rotation in one more way, through children running in circles in one of the other preschool projects I started to think. Clearly, there’s something about rotation worthy of building curriculum around. What if children are showing us they’re exploring rotation in an embodied way? How reflective of the real world is this rotation is all around us. Metaphorically we’re always experiencing rotation through the seasons, through how we revisit things we thought we knew to see deeper meanings, but also literally we are living on a spinning rock hurtling through space. So how fitting that we explore rotation through our bodies.

So once we became aware of spinning. As a possible concept and experience worthy of curriculum building, we realize that rotation and circularity are a commonplace schema that young children explore. Play schemas are patterns observed in children’s play across cultures and time frames, and it they really just reflect sort of these developmental urges to explore concepts or phenomenon over and over and over again. And this is so fitting because humans actually learn through repetition, as many of us know. So once we were connecting this spinning bodies to play schemas, we consulted a book that discussed play schemas and discovered some ideas that might help children expand exploration of rotation in some new forms. We were able to take the idea of exploring rotation with our bodies to thinking about it through sight, sound, and various materials. So one of the classrooms brought out some turntables and talked about spinning tops, and one of the students actually set up a pendulum experience with some paint in our art studio so that children could explore rotation through suspension. So these are just some of the ways that we were responding to children’s curiosities reflecting their sort of urges and interest to explore rotation, rather than limiting the idea of spinning in pursuit of some predetermined curriculum or other interests. This whole experience was very humbling for me. I was in awe of how the educators brought these ideas to life and instead of strategically thinking about reducing spinning. We embraced this concept together in such interesting ways.

And then I became even more compelled. Because as we were talking about spinning, several of the preschool classrooms were also discussing outer space and planets and how interesting the concept of rotation continues. This really shows me that we were on to something and being curious about spinning, so I chose to interpret the exploration of orbiting planets as an extension of the rotation interest. Could children be curious about how objects are suspended in space? How do planets move? And how do those moving planets defy our understanding of gravity? On Earth, children have learned over and over again by dropping materials or throwing objects that objects are supposed to fall and hit the ground. So outer space might be so compelling. And same with, you know, bubbles and feathers and birds and airplanes, because they defy gravity. So how interesting that children are trying to understand how our universe works in bigger ways than I could have predicted or planned for. Perhaps children are noticing the cycles and spirals that exist everywhere throughout the human experience, and that it is only through this careful attunement of the worlds that us as adults become aware of the questions that they could be asking. And it’s through continuous awareness and curiosity that helps us as adults remember that if it wasn’t for first noticing, spinning and being able to talk about it, that we wouldn’t have got asking such grand questions about the world. And this kind of just reminds me that the role of the educator, in my view lately has been to enact mentorship in the human experience such that we become willing to ask powerful questions and then pursue them with matched tenacity to a So I had noticed rotation, but then. I became not so sure about this rotation exploration because another one of the preschool classrooms that had initially been talking about spinning was now really interested in building towers as high as possible. They were asking educators to build them higher and higher. And they evolved their play from knocking the towers over, which is reflective of the deconstruction place schema, to protecting their stacked towers from falling, which is more reflective of construction, construction and connection place schemas. The children were attaching all kinds of materials, from Lego and clay to boxes, and they even started discussing the use of ladders and stairs to continue building the boxes as high as they could. So this got me wondering about how rotation actually involves movement. And it kind of opened me up a little bit because perhaps it’s not just rotation that’s so compelling, but could I instead expand my perception to start noticing other forms of movement as well? Thinking back on what I’d mentioned about play schemas, I started to realize that movement is actually involved in so many play schemas. Movement is involved in trajectory, throwing objects in, collecting materials, putting them up and placing them in baskets in transporting materials, moving them from one area to another, and combining materials like stacking blocks. And it’s also involved in transforming materials, such as mixing colours or mixing dirt and water. So could these broader concepts of movement be an act of demonstrating? How children are able to affect change on the world? If I start to think quite theoretically, I start wondering about if children really see themselves in the world through moving materials. If they start to have an understanding of their own bodies by being able to tangibly move materials, and if that is how they understand their self actualization and start to feel that sense of agency. What if children are really asking “How can I have an impact here”?

This proved to be such a helpful expansion of thinking because as some of the toddler classrooms were preparing for the art show, they had wanted to showcase months long explorations of colour mixing. And initially, while I had kind of assumed that exploring colour mixing was going to be so separate from movement, I started to reconsider that colour mixing could be part of how toddlers conceptualize physically moving and affecting changes in their worlds, but as one educator said to me, “colour mixing could also be what moves toddlers to explore their worlds”. And it could be more metaphorical ways of moving within the human experience. Toddlerhood is filled with discovery of the self and understanding their ability to say yes and say no, and to run and to figure out jumping. They’re kind of free from these, sort of. Being held so much in infanthood. And I guess there’s a lot of assumptions that I’m saying in that, but I just wonder about toddlerhood being all about understanding the self through movement. And so I started to wonder about mixing colours and stacking translucent colours blocks as a very tangible way to understand the effect of transforming and combining materials. And I think this expands from colour mixing into how we mix other materials as well. So whether we are combining paint colours with our hands, or we’re understanding the melting and mixing of snow and mud and water and ice into slush and all the natural ways that the earth melts and moves and mixes herself. This is such a timely noticing once again, and. And potentially just so reflective of how children are making sense of and asking powerful questions about their worlds.

At this point, I’d like to take a moment just to articulate what a timely realization or potential interpretation that this is. I’ve mentioned a few times that I feel the question of what moves us is being asked at a time of spring coming, and that feels really timely. But I just want to expand because I mentioned at the beginning about how asking the question of what moves us feels so relevant to it being springtime and there being a rush of movement to get outdoors more. And, and I do feel like movement is such an inherent part of the human experience, at least for a large majority of us. But here’s the thing. I think this is reflective of a bigger phenomenon. One study by Sarah Moore and colleagues, conducted in 2020, actually showed how children’s movement within their play was impacted during the showed how children were more sedentary during the time of the study. So I wonder if asking questions about movement can be part of an exploration about this time. We’ve experienced more movement in our program because families are now moving within the walls of the building, whereas before they were having to drop off at the doors. And I also think movement also happens not just all around us, but within our human bodies. I’m kind of running far with this metaphor, so bear with me. But if we think of if I think of my knowledge of how neurons fire, it is the movement of sodium and potassium across the cell walls. And the release of neurotransmitters that propels for their action. I hope I remembered that correctly, but feel free to correct me if I did not. And what if we are just bigger versions of neurons moving, flowing and exchanging energy and materials? Energy…being in motion reminds me of the word emotion. As one Indigenous elder spoke to me in the fall about emotions are just being propelled by energy, and so, perhaps not so surprisingly, I also learned that forward motion during experiences of agitation and stress has a calming effect because it completes the stress cycle. So forward movement, when we’re experiencing that fight, flight or freeze response facilitates our nervous systems to complete that stress response, which historically has been about us moving away from a predator of some kind. And so it’s through this movement that activates the systems to kind of cue our bodies that we have affected change and we have escaped the situation and so when I think about children running and spinning. How regulating might that be for their nervous systems? And if they think of us as adults and us emerging from winter, a time when many of us are more still than normal. Reduce our movements in response to the cold and the additional barriers to getting outdoors. Spring could be a time of exploring movement and building our relationship with movement in ways that not only are reflective of, you know, pandemic as well, but also that can be really life giving and so if you’re a student or a faculty member or a parent listening to this who is also managing many demands or looming deadlines. The idea of taking a walk when you’re able to, or engaging in other kinds of movement or forward motion might not be as toxic positivity-y as it sounds. It might actually really regulate our stress responses. And I guess I just want to add that. To me, this actually makes so much sense when I think of sort of our sensory experience, because I often think about how, you know, movement or how any phenomenon sort of is being processed by our different senses. So if we’re in forward motion, our eyes visually are watching the world go by, our ears are hearing the rush of the world go by. Our breath is moving through our nose and or mouths in different ways. Our breath might change. And we’re feeling the whoosh of the air on our skin as well. And if I expand upon the five senses to include the vestibular system, a proprioceptive systems and interoception, I also can understand how movement is regulating for those systems that help us understand our movement and position in space and our internal systems. And then if I expand one more time and add on sense of adventure, sense of time and sense of wonder. It’s no stretch of my imagination to see the time that move, that movement, is what allows us to take up micro adventures in spinning or running or climbing and that melt away the linear feeling of time and that allow us to engage and move in intuitive ways, compelled by wonder. The final way I’m advocating for movement right now is that movement of breath is also what is so regulating. I’ve just started reading the book Breath. And I’ve had many aha moments recently where I’ve realized that. You know, sometimes in mindfulness practices, we’re sort of told how to breathe or when to breathe, and I like those experiences, but I’ve learned that not everybody does. But often when you ask those individuals what they prefer to do, they might say like, oh, I’d rather run up and down the stairs, or I’d rather do a couple jumping jacks, or I’d rather sing, or I’d rather take a walk. And yet those are all experiences that involve the changing of breath, that taking bigger inhales and longer exhales, or changing breath to be a bit faster perhaps. And so I think it’s this breathwork that can also be the regulating part of movement. If you’ve stayed with me, thank you so much. I just have a few. I have a few additional thoughts on movement before I move to something else. No pun intended. Noticing movement and making decisions with movement in mind is what makes. All of these experiences and notice things pedagogical to me because we interpreted what we noticed and made decisions with our values and children’s interests in mind. We could have talked about reducing spinning. We could have designed the classroom differently. We could have replaced spinning with other behaviors, but that’s instead where we chose to pivot. Because that’s a moment in time where we could have either built curriculum here or we could have moved on and overseen the potential that that experience had for children. And who would have known that just by asking about spinning, we could have started to understand how movement is related to children’s regulation and adults regulation and started asking questions about exploring movement in very layered and complex ways, far beyond just spinning in the classroom. But pandemic restricted movement? The decision to not root ourselves in discipline or academic ideals or behavior guidance, but rather, build a relational knowledge about children and each other and ask what is worthy of being studied here is what allows us to form new knowledge and to consult knowledge from other disciplines to fully expand our own awareness of what could possibly be being explored here. So I talked a lot about movement there. But I just have to go one step further because the next thing I noticed really stumped me.

One of the toddler classrooms were exploring photography and I thought surely photography does not relate to movement.

Or could it? I started to ask myself what about photography involves movement? There was actually movement of the lens, of course, to capture the photo, movement of our hands to hold the camera. But photography seems more about stillness, doesn’t it? More about pausing a moment. What if photography was an exploration of the inverse of movement? Could photography be one way of capturing motion or movement and stopping time? Maybe it’s one way we actually understand movement is by stopping it. This caused me to wonder whether movement is always the answer. What about the pause? What about the stillness, silence, and the calm? What about rooting into the present moment rather than moving away from it? What about noticing what takes my breath away or causes me to stand back and be staggered with awe? I must be careful here, because it is easy to assume that a quiet, still obedient child is the ideal learner. But we cannot assume to know what learning and growing looks like for every human body. And I have to remind myself one more time that this idea of what moves us isn’t always just about physical, tangible, literal movement. It’s also what moves us to explore our world. It’s also about what moves us to experiment. What moves us to question what we think we know about the world, what moves us to try new experiences? What moves us to understand or negotiate our own boundaries, what moves us to express ourselves authentically. What moves us into our sense of wonder, imagination and marvel? What moves us into new possibilities? What moves us to generate new knowledge? What moves us away from misalignment or limitations? What moves us towards our hopes and dreams? What moves us to mobilize our resources and pursue through adversity?

Just some small questions for an average weekday morning. And at this point I really thought I was done interpreting. I had woven together rotation and movement and stopping movements. Only then to notice that printmaking was occurring in one of the classrooms.

Hmm. Printmaking often involves creating a print from a material by either designing the print or the shape from linoleum, or using some other kind of textured material and then adding colour to it like paint and then placing the print on a paper to leave a trace of the print behind. When I when I hear that back. I wonder if this is a blend of everything of motion, of movement, of mixing, of combining, of transforming, taking apart, being left behind. With an immobile snapshot of what the effect of movement had created. Oof. That was probably a stretch of the question what moves us probably more in the literal sense than metaphorical sense. But I just kind of want to explore some final questions and sort of potential avenues for ongoing lines of flight for this inquiry. I’m curious to keep thinking about what new skills and dispositions children are showing us through their movement choices. I’m curious to think about which moves are welcomed in our institutional spaces. Which movements are questions? How do we as a community want to move through spaces such as hallways or entrances or. Outdoor spaces. As students and faculty and parents, how are you experiencing movement? What does movement feel like to each of us? What do different types of movement feel like for each of us? It’s interesting to think that some of us love the thrill. Some of us love to move fast or in big grand gestures or with urgency, and some of us require. A large amount of stillness to really feel regulated. And then I want to play with two other questions. What moves us away from things and what moves us towards some things. When does movement feel empowering, and when does it feel disempowering? Movement without our choice can feel quite disempowering, and there are many groups of humans who’ve experienced movements against their will in strategic or political or oppressive ways. And yet we can also be moved against our will in quite positive ways, through things like profound poetry that catches us off guard, or art that is really compelling, or even powerful emotions. This experience us move move us in our thinking and understanding of the world.

Being moved away from something can signal to us that we are losing something and that grief is here. I’ve done some thinking on grief before, and I often think how it shows up in all its forms. And we can ask ourselves, what do we do with grief? What does it move us to do, and what does it stop us from doing? Grief, I often say, is love and often invites us to mark the move as we leave behind parts of our lives and relationships, or even just winter or phases of How can we mark this? Some children will be moving away from our program soon as they start big school, or they’ll be changing classrooms. And educators might feel this, too. And as students, you might leave behind courses, or a year of your program, or the first year of university. Or your last. How might you mark this move?

Somehow, in a parallel way, moving towards something feels just as interesting and complex. Sometimes moving towards something new can feel generating and exciting, but it can just as easily feel anxiety provoking. How do we mark moves into something new, like a new role or a a new classroom or a new summer job? What are we going to enter into? Some of us might move houses. What kind of welcoming rituals happen? Which which welcoming rituals don’t happen and which ones do we want to happen? Moving towards new things reminds me that as early childhood educators, we are inherently reflective practitioners. We work within a framework of emergent curriculum, so we are always co-learning. We are always evolving our practice as we meet every new group of children, but also every day because children learn and grow so fast that we are constantly learning just alongside them. And this makes me think about how movement is so inherent within our fields and it is one thing that we can actually claim. How can I change? How will I be moved by this? What can I do differently next time? What do I want to leave behind within my practice? What do I want to try that I have never done before? How can we move towards living in a world where we can talk to each other about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what impact it has on our community? Remaining curious about how movement impacts our community here and not assuming to know, I think is what will keep us grounded in this inherent movement and flux and change that comes with working not only in the field of education or the field of care, but specifically early childhood education, which is a interdisciplinary fields that is always learning from. Everything from you know. Astronomy and planets to you know the effect of gravity, colour mixing…like all the things I just named as part of the story of exploring movement, really reflects how we’re not just, you know, we’re not just teaching concepts or the alphabets or how to tie shoes. All of those things have places within our learning journeys as humans. But, in early learning, really we’re fostering children’s dispositions to be lifelong learners and to be able to do things like negotiate effectively across differences, advocate when things don’t feel right, and to take up inquiries in larger ways, like this one I’m attempting to do here. We’re not teaching children just to stand still and be quiet. Sometimes I hear the argument that, well, if we don’t teach children at some point to like, line up and be quiet, then how are they going to behave in the grocery store when they’re older? And I was actually thinking about this earlier today and I thought the point of early learning and childcare is not to prepare children to line up in grocery stores. And my goodness, if that is what we are being driven by. I think we really need to revisit what kind of world we want to live in. Because my hope is that children have a playful, joyful childhood and that they have the skills should they wish to design a world where it’s not lining up in the grocery store that is the most important skill, but it is those abilities to negotiate across differences and to think critically and design in ways that. Have never been designed before. So that was a bit of a tangent back to this idea of moving towards. Am I moving towards or away from what I really want to pursue here with young children and families and my colleagues and the university? And can I have a compass that guides me or that helps me navigate movements where I can move with intention? How do we want to be moved by what we experienced together as a pedagogical leader. My role, I’ve seen it written somewhere that my role is to move practice. So the essence of what I’m sharing here is all these reflections and interpretations and, you know, abstract stretches of this idea of movement to provoke further thought.

I talked a lot about what it means, what I think movement means to children, and what children might be exploring. But how do we bring this idea of exploring movement across the whole human experience? And I guess just to expand upon this too, like this whole episode really is to reflect that this question about spinning was worthy. I often ask myself when reflecting on these moments, why has what I’ve noticed here matter? Sometimes we catch these small glimpses or we have these small niggling inquiries like spinning that openness up to new ways of thinking about it or that, you know, really tug at our curiosity. And that tugging is what can propel us into what I’ve just sort of attempted to describe here. That movement can be explored in so many ways and expanded upon and. You know, woven together with other ideas and whether my interpretations are correct or not is not the point. Bringing this idea of exploring movement to your attention is what was worthy, and you might be moved by this in ways that I never could have intended for or predicted. And perhaps this episode won’t speak to you at all. And that’s really valuable information that might tell you that what is shared here is actually moving you away to what you are pursuing, which is very valuable intel. Perhaps what you’ve heard here feels enlightening, and that’s great too. If it moves you towards something that you’re pursuing, that’s also amazing Intel and I don’t claim to know how this might move you towards whatever big questions you have about the world. But it is within the capturing of what is happening here that I declare something here is worthy. And then it’s through sharing these observations and interpretations and broad theoretical questions that this becomes a provocation for something else to transpire. I’m not the answer holder, I’m just a walking nervous system attempting to interpret what I notice and share it back for all of us to continue to reflect upon and grow from.


A final question for another day might be what is the role of movement in multi species flourishing? But for now that is all the metaphorical power I can harness on this Saturday morning when I’m doing this recording. So thank you for listening. If you’ve made it to this, I don’t know, I’m going to guess it’s a 45 minute mark. I’m so curious to know what moves you. What is it about the world that has you physically moving and traveling to places or? Expanding what you physically do, but also what moves you, what moves you emotionally, what moves you to explore your worlds and to, you know, try on different ideas and you know, allow yourself to generate new possibilities and new ways of being. If you’d like to share any of those with me, please do feel invited to reach out to me on social media. Hey handle is at playful pedagogies. You can also feel kem@playfulpedagogies.ca. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to stay playful and stay curious about something as simple as movement.

The Potential of a Pause

I randomly created this footprint a year ago, when trying to think about a more meaningful logo. I love the spiral imagery, but also the layering of topography lines and the finger-print-ness of it. It’s meant to signify that each episode really is just a landmark in time and entirely dependent on the context, time, thinking, experience of when I did the recording. Like Carlina Rinaldi says, “observation, documentation and interpretation are woven together in what I would define as a “spiral movement,” in which none of these actions can be separated from the others.” “…what comes out are… the steps and the traces of the learning processes of the teacher… and can be shared with other teachers”. Each episode is like a footprint, an imprint along my journey, showing traces of where I have been at one point in time along the winding paths of where ever I may go.


Welcome to the Playful podcast, where we discuss lifelong learning and leisure by lingering at the intersection of recreation, education, and occupation. I’m your host, Kim Barton. Welcome to the journey. I’m excited to play and learn along with you.

Welcome to another episode of The Playful Podcast. It’s likely been a while since I’ve put out a new episode, and you might have been wondering what I’ve been up to and I’ve been really living in the pause and what I’m calling the pause is something I’ll unpack throughout this episode, and I think it’s something that is so worthy of our time, our attention. And it also might not be something that we have to explain ourselves over. And yet, somehow I feel like I should disclose that within my pause I was completing my masters thesis. I started a new job in a new community, and that job offered me so much learning and honestly disrupted a lot of my thinking patterns, a lot of my doing patterns. And unsettled me in a way that has really moved me into. More helpful ways of being in this world. More more ways of being in this world that align for me with my strengths, align with how I might navigate, struggle, and just have been really refuelling. So I really haven’t questioned the fact that I’ve haven’t been able to find time to create more episodes. However, I’ve had a few things happen recently that I just. I feel I needed to talk through, but also I thought maybe my half thought out ramblings might be worthy of sharing in this space. I have been invited to think about another way to think about pedagogy. Is was sent to me by one of my colleagues, and it’s a blog by Christina Vintimilla. I I really like what Christina says here in in that she offers that

pedagogy is that which thinks, studies and orients education. It’s purposes, its protagonist, it’s histories, its relations and processes.

And for me, that sentence speaks to how pedagogy is both ominous, but also it is it’s almost like. Bleeding like there is like the pedagogical thought that I might have today is so based on today and yesterday and what might be tomorrow that. It’s going to feel and look different in the next coming few days, in the next few weeks and then next year. So it’s not. It’s it’s not necessarily like, repeatable. And then she also says pedagogical thought lives within the tension between theory and practice, between what happens and the reflection on what happened. And wow, that sentence has spiraled me into a place of understanding pedagogy as breathing life between theory and practice. Reflection. Between between what happened and the reflection on what happened, but also between reflection and action and between, between. Umm. What was experienced and what I might want to build curriculum around? And this space is a in between. It’s an in betweeness for me. This space, it’s a generative space of possibility. It’s also, it’s also a space to be humanized because I think it invites us into this. Not only education, but any in any position where we are designing an experience for somebody, this is the space where we decide what’s worthy. We decide what we want to take up and what we want to leave behind. And it’s a space where it it’s really a transitional space.

And, um, I’ve been trying to connect this idea of transitional space to. All the transitions that I see in my life. So if you can roll with me here with this little meadow walk um. Sometimes it’s easy to think that learning happens most when content is being delivered, or when there’s an activity that’s been intentionally designed. But I’ve been starting to think about how learning happens in the transition between experiences. It happens. When I’m trying to put on my shoes to get out the door, it happens. You know, when I’m, when I’m, it happens when I when I go to an outdoor Ed conference and I decide that the session I signed up for isn’t for me, and I skip out on it. And then I stumble across my colleague and we have this wonderful side conversation that never would have been under other circumstances because we both just happened to be taking a break, stepping away, transitioning from something to another thing and bumped into each other. I also think that. This is so connected to me for transitions in like seasons or transitions and rhythms, meta rhythms like the rhythm of our rhythms.

And I was told this story on the weekend about how a couple weeks ago would have been the optimal time to do. To do walnut dying practices, so like taking walnuts and dipping fabric in. In their solution to dye the fabric with the colour of the walnuts and somebody said, oh, I noticed there’s a lot less walnuts this year, but this is the time that they typically drop from the trees and. I heard that sometimes walnut trees actually hold on to their fruits a little bit longer and as a way to. To kind of sustain and restore and and not just output or produce and. It’s a nice reminder that sometimes even though it’s the time to be doing XYZ. Having a fluctuation in that rhythm. Is what helps us maintain that rhythm for longer. So anyways, it was it was this idea of like a slight variation or or. Fluctuation, a rhythm of our rhythms, and this. Not and kind of the the shift between these different ebbs and flows in in the human experience, but also what it means to be a living being on this planet.

And I feel like I’m I’ve wandered very far away from what I was trying to say. So the next thing I’ll offer is that this idea of transitional space being a place to linger in was also something I heard in a blog post, again sent to me by my colleague, that talks about how music happens between the notes. And this was a A I think Yoyo MA was perhaps quoting somebody else who said this. I wish I could remember better, but. Um, this idea that music actually happens between what we hear is so fascinating to me, and aligns with this idea that the space between deserves. It deserves life to be breathed into it. It deserves thought and intention. And just as, just as much as the notes that are played in music design, the experience of what we hear in music, what makes us feel, the space between the place where where our anticipation might be or you know, what we expect to happen next builds up. And then it’s either reinforced or violated, which is one of the things that makes music so fascinating to us is our expectations around what we might hear next. And it’s. It’s in the pauses. It’s in the, it’s in the spaces between the notes where so much of this magic happens. So. If. If this space between is worthy of being experienced and it’s a place where we are invited to. Move from what happened into reflection and also move from reflection. Into deciding what from the reflection we want to take up, right? Because it’s not possible for me to take up every. It’s not possible for me to take up tomorrow every possibility that I might have dreamed up of of today there, there is some decision making involved and this is where we’re invited to. This is the humanizing part of of pedagogy and designing experiences because the decisions I make about what is what’s worthy of being taken up at this time based on the information I have today, is based on things like my values. It’s based on things like my lived experience. It’s based on things like my intuition. It’s based on thinking not only with my prefrontal cortex, but also with my senses, with with the space that I might be working with, with the other human beings, or more than human beings I might have in mind and those decisions are what make education and other practices, caregiving, other, other practices where we design experience for others, that that’s what makes it so relational and so humanizing is that a robot can’t come in and. End up designing what I design because it’s truly based on this contextual. Indeterminant, right? It’s it’s unknown. It’s it is a space of unknown. It’s a space of I I might anticipate or expect something, but what I actually decide. May or may not align with that expectation. And I say that both from a place of pedagogy and a place of music.

OK, so I think I’ve made a case that this this space between is worthy. So now if. If I believe that the space between to be worthy. And I’m also trying to, you know. You play with with another version of the script of a good ally which which is disrupting the the anger to action connection. Might I inject the space between in there? Might I? Inject. Insert intersects the experience of emotions or reflection or truth or story that I’m hearing. Decide that it’s worthy of a space between space before action, and live in that space a little bit before I take up action. This all sparked to me from a few moments that I encountered recently where where I had a I experienced somebody saying something and I had this huge nervous system response and this story in my mind that said to be a good ally, you have to take action right now. You have to say this back to them. You have to offer this insight or education and you have to act, act, act. And I didn’t act in that moment. Something in me just said hang on. And. Then I experienced waves of guilt because I didn’t act and because some little voice in me somewhere said hang on. Um, what I didn’t realize is that. Is that when I shared that experience that I’ve been having with one of my colleagues, that it would lead me to a place of rethinking the story of who what a good ally looks like and what good allyship looks like, feels like it sounds like. Because I didn’t think that was an option. And who am I to decide what good allyship looks like? Feels like it sounds like. And yet, how do I hold good allyship in one hand and hold my resilience in another and and ensure that my good allyship? Doesn’t burn me out. And perhaps. These micro moments where I feel like I should do XYZ, I should say something, I should do something, actually are an invitation to pause and linger in the space between and wonder with what happened and breathe life into what happened as I’m reflecting on it. What story about what happened do I want to create? What story of what happened is worthy? What story of what happened is from my perspective? Or could I invite other perspectives on what might have happened and where might lingering in that lead me to? And wouldn’t the action from? You know. Rewriting different versions of the story? Um, wouldn’t that lead me to different places of taking action? Wouldn’t action then look different from each version of the story of what happened? I I want to weigh the fact that, um, the thinking in the space between whatever that space you want to call it, if it’s pedagogical thought or if it’s meta reflection or. Or if it’s a script, writing whatever you want to call it, all that. All that thinking is worthy, but all the doing is also worthy. And in this podcast, I call it a playful podcast because I believe in the value of play. And I believe that just as much as I have to think my way through the stories I want to hold and that I want to tell about something that’s happened are also as important as playing with what I’m going to do differently. And for me to to know and do differently, I have to have opportunities to play, to try to test. To fumble. And so I just again want to make clear that action I’m I’m trying not to discount the fact that the action is necessary. But I want to breathe life into is what happens before we decide what action that we want to take. What action looks like, what action is in this situation will sound like, who it might involve, how I decided that that action was was worthy versus another that I left behind. And. Um, I think it’s through. It’s through play and it’s through. It’s through permission to. To try that, we get there. The final note I want to end on is that these moments, moments like the ones that I’ve been experiencing, where somebody says something, my nervous system, you know, I have this stress response. I feel compelled to take action in that moment and and then maybe maybe I decide to to do something or say something or not those moments. Um. Could be held. With just as much wonder and curiosity, warmth and affection as. You know, joyful moments in my day where where I look up at the trees and the sun lights flickering through the dancing leaves and I can feel it on my face and see it on my eyelids as I close them. That sense of of. Ah. Can be instilled within these within these moments of human. These relational moments of of human, you know, conflict or confusion, misalignment. Um. And allowing. Allowing our curiosity and our attention and affection. To come through. Is such a beautiful way to. Enter into an end to just validate the space in those micro moments, the space between what happens, how we reflect on it and how we choose to respond. That. That to me that space can be as wide or as as micro as you might need it to be, especially depending on how much practice you have and navigating some interactions or encounters like that. I think that. Well, it’s it’s this isn’t my thought. I didn’t think this up, but I believe that that um. That taking a breath. And you know, when I have that nervous system response, rather than acting from a place of my of the blood flow going to my reptilian brain, doesn’t it deserve to have my prefrontal cortex online? Doesn’t it deserve to have my body be in a state of? Of. Doesn’t my response deserve to be informed by my prefrontal cortex, but also my senses, my intuition, reading accurately what that other person might be giving me in their social cues? And how can thinking with all of that information lead me to respond in a way that is perhaps? Not directly from a place of anger. And although anger may have mobilized me into. That space between and maybe anger deserves and invites. You know thought or or, you know, movement or motivation? Um, can we disrupt the urgency narrative around these experiences and instead realize that that rest and and space and thought and time that these moments deserve these things of us as humans, that’s that. In our quest of equity and justice, that. That all human beings involved in those processes deserve rest and. Time and space and access to resources to think with, to decide what and how they might respond.

Hopefully what I’ve shared here in the smallest form in its in its most microstate it activates something in you in your value system that you say. Hmm, not for me. It doesn’t align, and here’s why. And you’ve confirmed your own values, even if they oppose what I’ve offered here. In the best case scenario, what I’ve offered here is a provocation to move us somewhere else in our thinking. It might. Again. As much as I think this this is the product at this time of my thinking, it’s actually. Part of a space between of something else that will be that I don’t know what is yet. I guess, I guess I do have one final, final thought. And it’s just that I attended a speaking event recently. I guess I bared witness to a professional conversation held on held virtually between Jean Clinton, Ann Marie Coughlin and Laurie Baird. And I learned so much. But one of the things that I kept coming back to is. I think it was Anne Marie. I’m probably going to mess up who said this and and where it came from. But we talked about how we can’t hold wonder and certainty in the same hand. We can’t hold curiosity and certainty in the same hand. And I think for me. I I just feel that in my bones. I feel that. Um. I have strong values of curiosity and. It often. Leads me to a place of complete, unknown, complete. Doing things I’ve never even I’ve never done before. Doing things that haven’t been done before, dreaming up possibilities of taking action that. That perhaps haven’t been done before or haven’t worked before because we wander into a place of unknown. We generate our own knowledge. We generate our own ideas and theories and realities that require action, right? Like I can’t think my way into a new reality, but I can. I can create one if I if I, if I think deeply and then I I decide what is worthy to be. Tried differently so. Yeah, I guess in all of this, it’s it’s that in our journey of of pursuing justice, equality. And it belonging, honoring diversity. And spaces of inclusion and indigenization. I wonder how that journey can be held with just as much curiosity, and that it means that it comes with perhaps less certainty than we have thought we signed up for. This was a particularly important topic for me because of the long pause I took in this podcast without really any explanation, but also because I’ve noticed so many pauses in my life and how it’s actually the pause in something that has led me to a completely new realization. Or it’s like holding on to something longer than I would intend to. That’s led me to move towards something that’s much more effective than I could have dreamed of and you’ll probably hear in. Episodes to come, what some other versions of this pause look like, and what it has led me to.

Thank you so much for listening to my meandering thoughts on this topic. I have deep gratitude for anybody who stayed with me with this one. I know that it might not have made a lot of sense and this is me going public with half thoughts, the essence of which is that. There’s so much power to be cultivated in a pause, and that life actually happens in the transitions between. Anything. As always, I’m curious to hear how some of these ideas land with you, so please feel invited to reach out to me on social media at playful pedagogies or kem@playfulpedagogies.ca. Thanks so much, and with deep gratitude I’ll just say stay playful, stay curious, and stay moments.

Spiralized experiences: what can the shape of a spiral offer us within our human experience?

In this mini-episode I capture several thoughts I’ve had over the past several years that have led me to absolutely revere spirals as metaphors in my personal and professional life. Available across all streaming platforms.


Welcome to the Playful podcast, where we discuss lifelong learning and leisure by lingering at the intersection of recreation, education, and occupation. I’m your host, Kim Barton. Welcome to the journey. I’m excited to play and learn along with you. So if you haven’t noticed, I’ve rebranded my podcast a little bit, and in one of my recent episodes I’ll be talking about why I’ve moved towards. The title Playful podcast and in this episode I’m shedding some light on the new design, which includes many as spirals. Spirals have become quite the meaningful metaphor in my life as well, both personally and professionally. And so in this little snippet, I just share a brief little bit of insight as to why I think they’re relevant to early learning and how we can think about spirals in a very generative way. So without further ado, here you go.

I think in Western society we have this idea that cycles and growth are somehow. Antonyms or opposite? But the fascinating thing about life is that it all happens in cycles. If you look at the structure of. Growth. It often actually happens in a spiralized fashion. And certainly in a nonlinear way. And so we’re not doing ourselves service. By thinking that the metaphor of a cycle or a spiral is always something that we’re caught in or that we’re. We’re regressing in. I think that. The most learning happens when we revisit experiences and when we act out the same patterns over and over again. The only way to find movement is to find ourselves in those moments, time and time again, and incrementally. Have the conditions to try something slightly different and different. Isn’t the opposite of a spiral either, because once again. Difference and change often happens by …like picture an unfurling leaf, or the cap of a wave, or a tornado or the horns on on. Animals, like the strongest structures in nature do include spirals and it’s also such a natural shape so. Can we change our perspective that experiencing a cycle is is somehow limiting or stunting us, when really I think it’s the exact opposite? The other thing. I want to mention is I think we have this. Connotation of spirals with like a downward spiral or being caught in the cycle. But I think spirals represent so many different things they represent. The value of of returning and revisiting, they represent that learning and growth is never complete. It’s actually infinite. It never ends. They represent the value of nonlinear wandering. And this this way of all things being in orbit. You know, wander away but also return. And then again just this this association with how we can understand the value of a shape that a spiral offers to both physically understand the world but also metaphorically understand. Some of the emotional and philosophical experiences we have.

Thanks so much for listening. You can find me on social media at playful pedagogies and as always, stay playful.

Seasons of Inquiry

After a long and moderately intentional pause, a new “season” of The Playful Podcast has launched. As part of a commitment to forming structures for openness, this season is less linear, more expansive, less edited, more spontaneous, less contained to the format of “episodes”, and more reflective of authentic learning. Grounded in an ethos towards mutual flourishing, healing, learning, and living well, join me cultivating curiousity about humanity, both within and beyond being mentors to others in the human experience.


Welcome to the Playful podcast where we discuss lifelong learning and leisure by lingering at the intersection of recreation, education and occupation. I’m your host, Kim Barton. Welcome to the journey. I’m excited to play and learn along with you.

So a lot has happened in the time since my last episode has aired. It’s probably been about 8 months. I’ve changed jobs twice. I’ve started and ended relationships, I’ve met new mentors, I’ve made huge mistakes, and I’ve learned more in one year than I thought I would in a lifetime. Um, and I don’t really know how to rekindle this podcast. My whole journey with reflective practice has evolved and expanded in ways that I almost feel too contained by this process, but I also feel like I’m where I am. I am where I am because of being able to hear myself back, being able to hear my thoughts. So rather than this continuing to be a platform of, you know, sharing refined knowledge or bringing in experts. This is going to live on as a as ideas that may take us in some interesting places and are certainly not complete and are not meant to be polished works to reference. Rather, they’re an invitation into some of what I’m thinking about and grappling with and tripping up over, rumbling with um. Well, that’s the the smallest hope from this process. The biggest one being that the ideas shared here provoke, provoke something in you. This is not meant to be a soapbox. This is actually meant to be a conversation. Um. And so in saying that, I wanted to share that this next season of this podcast is probably going to look a bit different. I thought about the fact that essentially I’m trying to launch a season 2, but I’m really not introducing anything new. In fact, I’m going a lot deeper with some ideas that have already been playing with in the 1st 9 or 10 episodes. Revisiting some of those topics and I’m I’m actually going to be releasing episodes that I’ve been voice recording over the past little bit, but that I just haven’t felt confident in putting into the world, I wanted to sit with them for a little bit, massage them, and I wasn’t even sure where I wanted to go with some of these ideas. So. Rather than season two, I’ve actually decided to launch several seasons at once, and I’m calling this seasons of inquiry.

It’s a series of ongoing curiosities about several topics, ranging from everything from relationships with music, relationships with water, relationships with time wondering about. Being human, the human experience and our senses. The culture of winter. Wondering about pedagogy as a relational experience and a relational rationale. And really focusing on the process of rumbling with these ideas rather than the outcome of where they bring us to. So right now my thinking is that there’s probably going to be about, I don’t know, seven or eight seasons launched at once where? As my thinking wonders, in each of these areas I can actually add to kind of that topic. On my podcast so. This might be a messy. This might be a messy process, and this might not be one that, as a listener, is as fun to listen to. I’m not really sure, but it’s one that is authentic to the ways in which I’m curious and that I inquire and that I learn and that I grow. It’s by revisiting ideas, so. My thinking right now is that these topics will include unraveling pedagogy and my revisiting of the definition of pedagogy. It will also include studying the culture of music in childhood and how I have been on a quest to learn about sound and listening and musicality in young children’s lives. It’ll also be about playing with routines and thinking about time and spiralized experiences. And how I truly believe this is. This is the human experience and action. It’ll also be about play, of course. My ongoing curiosity about play and my own playfulness moving towards fostering playful dispositions as adults. This will also include some reflective practice. As a facilitator, I’m in a role now where I do some weekly lecturing, and as someone who’s still so early in her journey, I just have so much to say. About this. Another topic will be the pursuit of human wellbeing and mutual flourishing. I get emotional even saying those words out loud. There’s so much that I have to say about this topic, so much that I’ve learned that I’m learning always, and that I’m so humbled by. And then finally. I’m thinking about a topic being knowledge as a conversation. Which will include some reflections on science, learning, research..kind of taking this meta view of what it means to learn and generate knowledge, consume knowledge, and share knowledge.

So if you’re with me still, thank you so much for being curious with me, for being playful with our ideas, and for being willing to linger in generative space, as Anne Pelo and Margie Carter say. Welcome to seasons of inquiry. I’m so excited to share these thoughts with you, and I’m even more excited to hear what you have to say about some of these ideas.

So, as always. Please feel invited to reach out to me. My Instagram is playful pedagogies. I think that’s the same handle across Twitter, and you could search either playful pedagogies or the playful podcast across most social media platforms, as well as platforms that host podcasts. I’d love to know how your thoughts on some of these topics, how these topics intersect with your practice and your. The questions that you are holding, the lived experience you have and the identities you hold. Thanks for being on this journey with me. And as always, stay playful.

Episode 9 – Authentic Conversations with Colleagues: Thinking about Art, Music, and Dance with Young Children – with Victoria Armstrong

Victoria, owner of Side by Side Consulting Services, is a skilled thinking partner for early childhood educators and brings many rich experiences and wisdom to this 2-part conversation. In this episode, and part 1, we engage is an authentic, reflective, and open conversation to explore our experience with, and our ideas about young children’s experiences with art, music, and dance. We discuss parallel practices of play, the importance of building relationships with high quality materials, and the influence of time in getting to know materials such as clay or a guitar. If you’re curious about how you can support and honour children’s expression through various art forms, this episode is for you!

What was extra magical about this conversation was that Victoria and I had many, many deeper reflections once we listened back to this recording. Despite both being engaged during the conversation, we noticed new ideas that didn’t stand out to us the first time, and were blown away by the layers of ideas woven throughout this conversation. These new noticings and wonderings led us to realize how many more conversations are yet to be had on this topic. While episode will be out mid-April, I’m sure this is just the beginning of many more conversations between us about this topic.


Gandini, L. (Ed.). (2005). In the spirit of the studio: Learning from the atelier of Reggio Emilia. Teachers College Press.

Pelo, A., & Carter, M. (2018). From teaching to thinking: A pedagogy for reimagining our work. Exchange Press.

Pelo, A. (2016). The language of art: Inquiry-based studio practices in early childhood settings. Redleaf Press.

Episode 8 – Pondering Pathways: Play! (Part 2)

Welcome back to a playful episode about play! While I intended for this episode to be about play theorists, the benefits of play, and how play and learning are interconnected, I ended up taking a walk and capturing some recent reflections from my own practice and experience about how I value and notice play, lately. Here, I share my hot takes on keeping play alive in our language and observations, what I’ve been learning about Anishinaabe perspectives about animals (and how that, to me, feels playful) and  what children need post-COVID. I also included a voice note on my phone where I reflect on my own experience with play and sound lately, and Jean Clinton’s idea of positive upwards spirals/Carol Anne Wein’s suggestion of supporting the whirldwind effects of synergy and positive energy in classrooms. I’d love to hear your thoughts on play as well – how do you keep the play alive in your life? 

Just to clarify a few things, the children’s book I discuss is actually called Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox and the author is Danielle Daniel.

Jean Clinton’s idea of positive upward spirals is discussed in her book Love Builds Brains, but it’s also discusses in a conversation she has with Anne Douglas on YouTube.

Finally, Carol Anne Wein’s idea of the whirl wind effect is from the Think Feel Act document, Empowering Children in the Middle Years.

Episode 7 – Wondering About Inclusion From One Family’s Perspective, with Special Guest Sandy B.

What happens when a Human Resources manager (mom), a student teacher (middle sibling), and a grad student (eldest sibling) FaceTime for 5 minutes? Well, when it’s my family, we start theorizing about inclusion. What started as a spontaneous video call, turned into a deep conversation that challenged what we thought about inclusion, and called us to rethink how we have experienced inclusion of disability. This  prompted us to hit the record button to capture our wonderings, and it also prompted us to pause our conversation to include the most important perspective: Sandy. In my family, my youngest sibling, Sandy, lives with Down Syndrome, and in this episode she generously shares her ideas, opinions, and memories of attending multiple high school proms. This episode left me with more questions about inclusion and belonging, and begs for a next step in including  educators’ perspectives on the history of this particular example of inclusion. Just a reminder that there is a transcript of every episode available on Buzzsprout to assist in understanding what is discussed in each episode.

In this episode, we chat about one specific example of inclusion, which is a prom that is facilitated by the Life Skills Program that Sandy attended during high school. There are two different conversations that discuss the prom throughout the episode: a conversation between myself, Alison (my sibling), and my mom (the first half of the episode), and then a conversation between myself and Sandy (second half of the episode). Our intention here is not to actually critique the prom at all, because, as you find out, Sandy enjoys attending it. Instead, we are just capturing our fleeting perspectives about how the prom did or did not involve inclusion, and how it might end up looking different under various conditions. We don’t really have coherent opinions here, and its more of a wandering conversation with some wonderings musings, realizations questions about part of some of our experiences as a family as it pertains to inclusion, since our family has engaged with multiple institutions and programs that have had varying degrees of inclusion. We gravitated to this example of inclusion, the prom, because there is an analogy about how inclusion is being invited to the dance, but belonging is being asked to dance ( which I need to track down and cite, forgive me). So, by sharing my family’s perspectives on this dance, we hope it contributes to larger conversations about inclusion, accessibility, equity, voice, choice, and belonging.

We also invite feedback, additional perspectives, and other stories from lived experiences with various versions of events or programs for the purposes of accessibility and inclusion to be shared, and I would be delighted to engage in a follow up conversation with anyone who feels called to discuss this topic with me.

What did this episode make you curious about?

“As Music” – A Spoken Word Poem

I’ve decided that I wanted to more openly share some of the journey I’ve been on in terms of questioning, shedding, and challenging the colonial frameworks that I operate within the systems of oppression that I benefit from. One path forward that felt accessible to me was to start by looking at knowledge. Whose knowledge counts as credible? Where has discipline knowledge come from? I started this journey many years ago but became conscious of it during a graduate course about interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge. During this course I created a spoken word poem to mark where I was on my journey at the time. It’s now been a year since I created the poem and I’m feeling ready to share it, unedited. The poem is a winding reflection on knowledge, research, what I believed to be ‘reconciliation’, and music. The poem is purposely long, with little regard for time or efficiency.

Here’s a short rationale about writing and sharing the poem:

“This poem was created to help me gain confidence in presenting academic ideas through art. It is not a destination, but a landmark on my learning journey of decolonization and reconciliation as a scholar. It is both a call-to-action and a self-reflection that is intentionally non-linear and redundant, representing my current feelings towards academia, knowledge, efficiency, and rightness.

I have a more refined sense of where I am, who I am in relation with, how I engage in knowledge seeking, and who I am not….. In the poem I consider the things/beings I am in (shared) relationships with, and I speak directly to/with fellow graduate students, faculty, Indigenous individuals/communities, and myself. I also introduce myself to “all my relations” in an effort to identify where my personal and professional commitments lie.

“Finally, this poem pledges that my knowledge-seeking endeavours will not be completed in isolation. They will be playful and expansive and equity-seeking all at once, as I listen and contribute simultaneously. They are, in part, communal acts, two-way conversations, with all involved relations, through call-and-response engagement, expression, and communication.

As is reconciliation.

As is music.”


“I knew it!” I’ve said, only to feel regret,

once I find out I’m wrong.

have I been wrong all along? How do I respond?

and how do I shape this to song?

knowledge as rightness, determined by whiteness

and colonial structures of college

I ponder my wrongness to resist in honest

attempts to unsettle and resolve this 

the trust in precision, is stifling rhythm, 

fixation with facts is so loud

turn it down, I’m not proud, it overpowers the crowd

we’ve forgotten how to play with sound

we discuss, relate, debate, agitate

and approve whose knowledge is true

we read books and papers dissect the layers

to decide whose knowledge gets moved

do you feel the groove?

is this even good science? tby rightness?

how can I make a transition?

from regurgitation to conversation

how can I learn to listen?

what’s my role in this, am I complacent, worse – 

my developing praxis

co-opts ways of being so I don’t stop reflecting 

on each of my actions 

do you hear this?

yet I put my head down, say nothing out loud

settle into the academic 

ways that exist in mentorship process,

calibrating to scholarship

“grad schools lonely! But never boring!”

is what I have heard all year. 

but I thrive on my own (see my first canoe solo!)

so… won’t I shine here?

only to find that again I’m not right,

so how do I relate to this sense? 

of place and wonder and stories and blunder

perhaps all pretense and nonsense. 

I feel like a starving solo artist.

to reconcile my feelings of intuitive believing 

with not always being correct

is an act of resisting the structures and systems 

that regulate knowledge as fact

where’s the music in that?

what we know grows, it comes and goes 

and flows in a rhythm we prose

as conversation, tiny revelations, 

that never exist alone

and spark revolutions in each institution

to reimagine our futures

and ignite something fiery to undo the binary 

and provide some resolution 

can I make a musical contribution?

you know that feeling when time is twisting

and you’re so engorged in the process

plans become abstract, bending to match

a rhythm undistorted by facts 


we need more of that 

there’s no finish or start to this, stop rushing knowledge

these paths are winding and infinite 

no linear progression in life lessons

they’re just interconnected

to think in relations means intimacy and faith in a

two-way conversation (Breen, 2019)

a dance of equity and accountability

with edits of refinement and persuasion 

sound is much more than entertainment

my knowledge is one piece, you may have another, 

and neither alone may be whole 

but together we weave a cohesive story 

that creates a little home 

maybe I’m not playing solo

hah, but home, you see, that’s again where we’re wrong

we’ve been telling lies all along 

home is the problem, only some beings blossom,

when we’re singing a stolen song

this predisposition to ask questions

of ownership and acquisition

unsettle institutes and dig up the roots,

to unoccupy the settlement of wisdom (Tuck & Yang, 2012)

remain responsive, relocate as wanted

reposition again and again 

be slightly nomadic, flexible by habit

home is created and recreated when 

I pick up and move, unearth my roots,

maybe I’m meant to pass through

I see where I have harvested, exploited, and marketed

in places that I am not native to

while there’s no place like home, and I can’t do this alone

who I am to think I’m of service,

to groups I’m not part of, I don’t hold the knowledge

and to think otherwise is a disservice

so I recalibrate, reroute, and migrate

to some space in-between

comfort and a front door, my thirst for more

means I find new ways of being

‘cause I won’t play along, when I don’t like the song 

and nothing really resonates, 

it’s too big or too small, doesn’t fit at all, 

then it finally it begins to dissipate

rodent models of schizophrenia 

my lived experience with mania, 

my research and knowledge converge

from big data privacy 

to interview anxiety

new interests mean I feel heard

nature-based pedagogy to Mad Studies

self-compassion and musicality

these things I know, although I may outgrow

my learning it emerges indefinitely

knowledge comes as we need it (Breynton, S, personal communication, December 3 2020), 

no need to master it  

just trust in the process 

it is a forest (Interdisc Class, 2020), no need to engorge in it

let curiousity be your compass

while unlearning is unnerving, unsettling, disturbing

it’s birthing new ways of being 

a yearning for learning that trusts in the journey 

of investing in our shared meanings

I hear a tune in building

my ears can’t yet decipher such sophisticated cultures

of beings all interconnected

that linger in dependence a fermata suspended  

to know who we are is all relative 

so to all my relations, future generations 

and ancestors, it’s so good to meet you.

I hear your songs: can’t wait to sing along

in a tune rings true for you too.

so who am I? and what do I do?

I’m Kim, not Kimberly, except for my family 

and I play/work/live on the lands

of Dish with One Spoon, an Educator who

belongs to tributaries of the Grand 

and what does it mean for me to be an ECE

and occupy space as student

my roles have oppressed, and I feel unrest

in honouring that I am still human

while I’m no soloist I try to make the most of this

seeking serenity in solitude

a recovering positivist (Akers, T. personal communication, Dec 1, 2020), 

wanna-be psychologist

exploring alternative avenues

extending towards my energy source 

what’s my connection to land

“Through unity – survival, all flourishing is mutual” (Kimmer, 2013, p. 20)

(there’s) no sustainability in a one-woman band

for as far as I can see, when I die my body

will feed many more beings (Elrick, 2010)

may my creations outlive me,

through interdisciplinarity

art, music, and stories

you can call me creative but I kind of hate it 

the romanticization of novelty

to know it by heart is part of my art

seeking the free flowing, softly

yet with the pressure to achieve, 

I am constantly wondering 

what this means for my own identity

to share ideas liberally, 

am I still appealing

to the academy? 

my aim is to deviate but also celebrate,

those who have allowed me to be free

to make space for more changes and liberation and

know my positionality

by disrupting discourses and dominating forces

and offer restorying lessons

a retelling of history, new ways of thinking

and address ongoing abjection

in this conversation 

I ask that we widen 

the range of human responses (Barton, 2020)

considered normal and not just neoliberial

understandings of concepts

intentional erasure of experience and nature

don’t think it’s beneath us

to centre research on whiteness is an act of violence 

the silencing is so insidious 

so how do I collect, analyze, and protect

complexity of researching communities?

recomplicate play through a commitment to name

experiences are not captured through binaries

maybe thinking in metaphors (Kimmerer, 2013), expressing through symbols 

& narratives not to just benefit me

to investigate connections and the 100 languages (Edwards, Gandini & Foreman, 1998)

of experience captured through story

literacy of place at a poetic pace 

and grace for BIPOC students 

and new immigrants and research participants 

and the more than human

mindbody spiritual and the emotional (Kimmerer, 2013)

cultural teachings and sovereignty 

I cherish your company offer space for exploring

there’s always time for tea with me (Imai, R., personal communication, November 29, 2019)

well-being expression engagement belonging (Ministry of Education, 2014)

how to foster these but not police 

From Teaching to Thinking (Pelo & Carter, 2018), listening to possibilities

that’s my commitment within the academy

that is not to say that we’re all the same,

or that we can melt the past away

but if we can at least play in the same game 

or maybe in the same key

then, I imagine we are all just passionate

players in floral orchestras

choruses of dissonance, can you hear us?

aligning in harmonic performances

I think… I may not be right, 

I’ve been so protected by white,

I aim to know things differently, a gesture that learning 

is never ending in life

it’s symbiotic, entrancing, melodic, expansive

with evasive solutions

synchronicity, in many of ways being through

research as reconciliation (Wilson & Dupre, 2019) as music

so we dance and we play, listen and create

in rounds that build in crescendo

conversing through harmonies, like little symphonies,

in call and response like a tango

and I stumble my way down pedagogical veins, 

admiring roots and leaves 

I follow, I lead, everything in-between 

as I realize that knowledge is breathing

it’s coming and going, ebbing and flowing

iterative and evolving

sense-based and spiralized, enduring over time, 

it’s living, too, so be kind

it’s alive (Breen, A. V. personal communication, Dec 3, 2020) 

and it’s mighty, 

but I must tread lightly,

for it is not mine

it’s passed down by folks

I’ll never dance with or know,

so, I must know, responsibly. 

just like rightness and wrongness 

not binary opposites 

neither are unknowing and knowledge 

both oppressed and oppressor 

student and professor






Barton, K. [Kim Barton]. (2020, Oct 27). Kim Barton family theory presentation [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1dQrrVUw1A&feature=youtu.be

Breen, A. V. (2019). You do not belong here: Storying allyship in an ugly sweater. In Wilson, S.,

Breen, A. V., & DuPré, L. (Eds.), Research and reconciliation: Unsettling ways of knowing through Indigenous relationships (pp. 49 – 59). Canadian Scholars.

Deane, P. (2018, May 22). A guide for interdisciplinary researchers: Adding axiology alongside ontology and epistemology. Integration and implementation insights [Blog post].

Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (Eds.). (1998). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach – Advanced reflections (2nd ed). Greenwood Publishing Group.

Elrick, M. (2010). Dwelling Where I Teach: Connections with Friluftsliv. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education22(3), 4-10.

Hooks, B. (2006). Love as the practice of freedom. B. Hooks. Outlaw Culture. Resisting Representations, 243-250.

Interdisc. Class (2020, Sept 15). Metaphor assignment and poems [Class Assignment]. FRHD*6340.

Kimmerer, R. W. (2013). Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants. Milkweed Editions.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2014). How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/howlearninghappens.pdf 

Pelo, A., & Carter, M. (2018). From teaching to thinking: A pedagogy for reimagining our work. Exchange Press.

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society1(1).

Wilson, S., & Hughes, M. (2019). Why research is reconciliation. In Wilson, S., Breen, A. V., & DuPré, L. (Eds.), Research and reconciliation: Unsettling ways of knowing through Indigenous relationships (pp.6 – 19). Canadian Scholars.