Reflection Paper: Recontextualising Learning? Reflections on the Social and Relational Nature of Research in Environmental Education
The South African Research and Development Seminar (on environmental and health education) was intended to engage participants in exploring research designs from cultural/ contextual perspectives, that is, to re-inscribe their methodological practices within the fabric of social life. Participants were encouraged to present their research ‘works in progress’ as a means of ‘growing’ ideas through parallel sets of themed deliberations. Each of us knows, as active researchers, that we need a better conceptual grasp of the complexity of the inquiry process. We recognise that we must learn to operate in uncertain and indeterminate spaces so we seek new insights from diverse philosophical/theoretical notions that privilege ethics, context and socio-cultural interpretations of meaning. We also need opportunities to reflect on local interpretations of themed research issues such as participation, curriculum, and learning within broad contexts which are framed relationally (epistemologies) and which are situated. That, I think, is why we came to South Africa and why some of us will continue to find such venues that help us to trouble our work. This paper attempts to reflect on several issues that trouble our practical work, and on questions that penetrate the field and provide the basis for undoing conversations, for more thoughtful discussions that improve on the superficiality of our scholarship.
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