Spaces for enchantment and the unknown : fairy tales, complexity thinking and a search for new ways of dreaming : children-centred sustainable development

Guyot, Amelie M. L. (2009-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Sustainable Development Planning and Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


This research explores spaces for enchantment and the unknown, exploring our relationship to fairy-tales and alternative ways of dreaming that break from a modern worldview, using complexity thinking as lens. I conducted extra-mural group work with two groups of adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds. I considered the world young people receive at a metaphysical level; the world they dream of, connect to and enact. My thesis is based on the premise that we must act towards a ‘sustainable unknown development’ that goes beyond modern deadly homogenisation. The research objectives were as follows: Firstly, to explore the relationship between dreams (about the future) and a sustainable future. Secondly, to reflect, based on the group’s holding-space, on our relationship to dreams. Thirdly, to reflect on possible alternative ways of approaching the unknown and enacting enchantment to create change. Fourthly, to explore the importance of imagination and creativity with regards to the above. I review literature pertaining to the affects of the modern paradigm, specifically in its fairy tale blueprinting form, on our world. I argue that this paradigm is currently dangerous to the earth as a living system; causing the oppression and abandonment of nature, the feminine, children and our imagination. Alternative ways such as states of ‘interbeing’, polycentric thinking, and the experience of thresholds and heterotopian spaces where differences meet, are considered. The importance of personal experience and imagination in building resilience and meaning in the unknown are emphasised. My research uses a practical design of ‘enchantment methodology’. Methodologically it tries to tackle some ontological questions, considering different approaches in which negotiation is possible at a metaphysical level. My findings were that although alternative approaches do exist they cannot be generalised in a modern thinking way. Beyond the modern numbness and the tantrums of breaking away from its devastating divides, is the potential of inner wisdom found in our own hearts. Recommendations are that more holding spaces are created to promote an alternative relationship to the unknown to nurture a sense of enchantment.

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