Docente Activo 2023: Teachers Gather for Collective Reflection and Experimentation on Art and Ecology

Teachers recently came together for an event titled "Reconnect to Regenerate: Art and Ecology in Education," which aimed to encourage collective reflection and experimentation. The program, held in La Araucanía, involved various activities such as tours through nature and heritage sites, artistic cartography, body experimentation, drawing, and exploring historical, geological, and biocultural stories. These experiences aimed to promote transdisciplinary education among teachers, fostering critical thinking, connection, and care for nature in both educators and their students. The overarching goal was to address socio-ecological regeneration from individual, collective, and landscape perspectives.

Over two days, teachers from Curarrehue, Villarrica, and Pucón explored the Toltén basin, starting from the shore of Lake Villarrica and heading towards the basin’s source in Bosque Pehuén. Through exploration, observation, and engagement with different languages and artistic expressions, such as words, images, the body, interventions, and cartographies, the participants established a conversation with the basin. This facilitated the understanding of the different signs and traces of the human-nature relationship manifested in the landscape and its ecosystems. Scientists, artists, and individuals with biocultural memory also contributed to the trip, enriching the metaphorical relationship between natural regeneration and educational practice.

DA program, which has been running since 2016, aims to provide teachers with tools for transdisciplinary education to address territorial issues they face in their classrooms. This year, eight pairs of teachers were selected, each with their own unique challenges, including recognizing local flora and fauna, understanding water crises and natural disasters, managing orchards, and helping students reconnect with their natural and cultural environment.

Amparo Irarrázaval, in charge of the Learning area at Fundación Mar Adentro, emphasized the importance and responsibility of educators in shaping society. The program’s focus on teachers from various subjects, such as arts, chemistry, philosophy, and language, aligns with the foundation’s goal of promoting transdisciplinarity.

María Jesús Olivos, coordinator of Learning projects, explained that the program design incorporated regeneration as a metaphor for the journey, starting with individual and collective listening to the landscape. The body was used as a learning platform, and drawing served as a means to enhance self-perception and knowledge of the basin. The emphasis was on recognizing the landscape’s rhythms, traces, and movements through drawing.

The program also included performative actions accompanied by stories, transforming participants’ perception of the place and its complexity. These actions offered playful resources to engage with the environment and corporality, fostering a transformation in the perception of space. The aim was to reimagine teaching and learning processes by interacting with the architecture of the space and using various materials as triggers for introducing concepts and reflecting on collective and individual experiences.

Waters that flow towards a continuous territory

In 2023, the program was developed in collaboration with the cultural corporation Obras Naturales. Gonzalo Rozas, the corporation’s director and president, found the experience enriching on an organizational and personal level. The program introduced new experimental methodologies that involved mediation in the field and subsequent evaluation, creating necessary spaces for teachers and education.

The Regional Interactive Museum of Agroecology and Sustainability (MIRAS), led by Claudia Ríos, and the Aerobics for Plants project by Ivi Marifil also collaborated in the 2023 edition. They provided strategies for environmental education related to the basin and the biocultural memory of the territory. Lodge Kodkod also deserves appreciation for providing space and logistical support for the program.

The first day of DA focused on exploring knowledge related to the Toltén river basin and reflecting on the continuous territory created by its flowing waters. Key concepts covered included regeneration, mediation, artistic mapping, and biocultural memory. The day included observation and drawing activities in the area of Puente Viejo de Villarrica, storytelling and movement exercises at the historic site of the Toltén River, and artistic cartography at the Mallolafken urban wetland. These activities aimed to explore the landscape’s qualities, biodiversity, and human histories within the drainage of Lake Villarrica.

The second day involved an interpretive trail in Bosque Pehuén, where teachers learned about concepts such as regeneration, symbiosis, soil, forest composition, ecological succession, biodiversity, headwaters, and continuous rivers. The day concluded with reflections on the experiences and the creation of transdisciplinary learning objectives related to the teachers’ specific educational contexts and the challenges they face.

Participants shared their valuable insights from the program. José Márquez, a chemistry teacher from the Pablo de Pucón Educational Complex School, highlighted the lesson that “you don’t need many resources to activate concerns or interests.” He emphasized the personal resonance of the experience and his motivation to extend this interest to his students. Marjorie Vidal, a biology and natural sciences teacher at the Carlos Holpzafel educational complex, expressed how the program helped her reaffirm her vocation for collaborative work and her desire for students to connect and feel part of the ecosystem.

Reconnect to regenerate

In total, 15 teachers participated in the 2023 DA program, experiencing artistic mediation and co-learning spaces that promote nature conservation. The educators gained tools to promote environmental education with a biocultural perspective, recognized the territory as an active learning space, explored contemporary art practices as learning methodologies, and designed creative and transdisciplinary pedagogical experiences for their classrooms. They also fostered a community among peers and related organizations.

Amerindia Jaramillo, in charge of the FMA Conservation area, highlighted the importance of the experiential experimentation in DA and its connection to the conservation of the Andean Araucanía ecosystems. The program aims to transfer the knowledge gained by teachers to their students, with an emphasis on understanding the territory and its attributes for long-term conservation of biological diversity. Jaramillo emphasized the biocultural value of the Araucaria araucana forest, which holds significance for indigenous and traditional communities in the area.

After the two days of learning and reflection in a biodiverse environment filled with water and ancient trees, the teachers will develop proposals to implement in their classrooms. They will receive guidance from the foundation’s team and the Obras Naturales corporation. The cycle of DA 2023 will conclude with the implementation of these proposals in August and September, followed by a final meeting in october to share experiences.

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