Episode 32 - Raising Curious Kids with Kelly

Episode #32 – Raising Curious Kids with Kelly

In Episode #32, we have another absolutely incredible guest to share with you, and that’s the amazing Kelly MacAlpine! Kelly is a PHD candidate at Western University, focussing on early childhood environmental education, as well as the brilliant mother of three wonderful kids, one of which we have also had on the podcast, Jessie. Our conversation with Kelly is fantastic for so many reasons, but most importantly, because of the undeniable passion Kelly obviously has for the education of our children. She kept asking us to stop her if she’s talking too much, but as you’ll hear, we absolutely loved hearing what she had to say and we think you will too!


A bit of context before you listen: Kelly talks a lot about different pedagogies, including plastics and ‘ghosting’ pedagogies; pedagogies are just theories of learning which in this case, are applied to early childhood students. She also mentions ‘non-human’ relations which refer to animals, objects and nature as well as ‘shadows of beings’ which can be tracks left by wildlife or evidence of their passing through the area. 


To summarize Kelly’s work as best we can, she studies the interactions of kids with their natural environment, and questions if we should instead be allowing them to remain imaginative and create their own stories of the world around them (eg. when it snows, it’s because of a fictional snow monkey) rather than just giving them the “facts” and moving on. Do the stories created by kids actually create a greater connection with nature and therefore make them more responsible and considerate environmental human beings?


Key Message: In the name of what?


A few of the issues and topics we discuss in this episode:

  • Pedagogical studies (and what that actually means)
  • Thinking about waste
  • Education in the name of what?
  • Cultivating curiosity
  • The power of storytelling and the imagination
  • Response-abilities
  • Climate action network
  • Ruins of progress
  • The fictitious students
  • The power of youth
  • Parenting advice

“The children must engage in processes that move beyond neoliberal goals of productivity and consumption by formulating intentions that will allow them to pursue their curiosity in ways that will not always yield productive outcomes but will ultimately allow them to build their competence while pursuing their curiosity in purposeful ways.” Witnessing the Ruins: Speculative Stories of Caring for the Particular and the Peculiar | Journal of Childhood Studies 


Further Resources:



  • We actually can never be an expert in something, because we’re always evolving, the world is evolving, everything is always in motion and changing. How do you become an expert and find the single final truth, or answer, when the answer today is not necessarily the answer tomorrow?
  • Capitalism is driving the death of earth, I don’t know how to say it more bluntly than that. 
  • There’s sort of two types of students, the ones that are passionately curious and full of wonder, and the ones that are actually on a mission to get to a point. When you’re on a mission to get to a point, you have just shut everything else out. 
  • In the name of what? Why is it that they need to learn these? Do they need to learn them to become a very particular neo-liberal capitalist citizen, or do they need it to be response-able people in the moment, and people in the future?
  • Ghosting pedagogies is something that emerge from something we pay attention to. The notion of ghosting pedagogies as an educator would support the ability to pay attention to those moments that we see, where children are developing these very peculiar relations. 
  • What does testing mean? I’m not sure, that would be a really heated argument, when we talk about testing. Nothing is easy, everything is messy, everything is complicated, everything is entangled, snarled. 
  • You can’t, good or bad, undo the conversations we’ve just had. Where they take you, we don’t know. You cannot unknow what you already know, you can’t unhear what you’ve already heard. You just have to hear it first, to pay attention first, to see it first. 
  • I’m doing a disservice (to my children) if I’ve defined what I think they need to do in order to reach what I want them to do. 
  • My children are amazing. Do I take credit? No. Why would I take credit? I was there, I wouldn’t say I hindered their successes by any way shape or form, but I left doors open and was there to support them in what they needed to do.
  • What becomes more challenging is how do you make yourself heard? Make yourself feel worthy enough to contribute to the conversation? I mean that in the family sense, the community sense, in the global sense. 
  • I offer my opinion in good faith, I offer my opinion respectfully, I don’t discount your opinion, I may disagree with it, but there’s a totally different thing in what we’re seeing in some of the social hate media. I’m not trying to point out some hate filled message in order for you to discount this person because that props me up. 
  • What can we do more proactively? How can we think before we get to that place? It just amazes me the raw hated we sometimes see. 
  • We need to be a bit more, I don’t know, we need to be more present, aware, more open, more compassionate, and think more outside of who we are, and support everyone and everything. 
  • I used to say that I’m always hopeful because at the science fair, I see the future and the future looks good. I’m hesitant in the narrative that’s going on with this push to create a very particular competitive, winning, “I must win, and I must win against others, and I must follow this very linear path from A to B to be a successful person.” A lot of stuff is dropped when that happens I think.


Like us on Facebook and Instagram @tomstuandyou or send us an email at hi@tomstuandyou.com with any questions, comments, thoughts, or queries you have on the topics we’ve discussed or any suggestions of topics you’d like to hear us address. 


Thanks so much for your support! 


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