All the Blue and Green

 In Wild Pedagogy

It was the last day of a four day University canoe trip in classic “blue lake and rocky shore” terrain. My bow paddler was completing his first canoe trip. We had a few lakes and portages still to travel. He would have described himself as an urban lad with no experience in this sort of thing. Yet he was a natural.

Out of the blue (literally) and breaking a long contented silence, he piped out the following line that struck me to the core. He said “I get it, all the blue and green on Canadian maps, it all looks like this.” It was a grand moment of realization for him and a confirmation of all things wild pedagogy for me.

He’s right really. About three-quarters of Canada is Canadian Shield and we were in the thick of it and he sensed something special for himself in that moment and I had a tear come to my eye. Special for me too.

How do we ever “teach” Canadian history, literature, geography, anthropology, native studies without time on the land, in this case, in a canoe IN the blue and green of those maps and IN the land. He got something that day that he has for life, a feel for being Canadian, a feel for a wisdom of indigenous culture (often referred to on the trail together) and a feel of (to so often quote Canadian ecologist John Livingston) “being part of a greater enterprise.” There is adventure here and pride/understanding of country and …..well…..perhaps even a touch of a fleeting moment of connectedness to a spirit IN the land. I think it was a wild pedagogy moment: one I have embraced for over thirty years.

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