What is place-conscious learning?
Place is really any environment or context in which people interact to “learn, create memory, reflect on history, connect with culture, and establish identity” (BC Ministry of Education, 2021). The marriage of critical learning with place-based education produces a place-conscious pedagogy that incorporates the life experiences of both teachers and students within the social and political context of their school community (Dahle-Huff, 2015).
“Place-conscious learning focuses on students constructing critical understandings of their community and place. Exploring the historical, cultural, political and economic layers and issues of community may include social and ecological justice, or inquiries linked to indigenous worldviews and perspectives. Place-conscious pedagogy embeds hands-on, real world learning experiences with students at the centre. Greater student engagement in what is relevant and what matters, increases academic achievement, and helps develop stronger ties to their community, enhances students’ appreciation for the natural world, and creates a heightened commitment to serve as active contributing citizens”Terry Taylor, Superintendent, SD #10
What can it look like in BC?
“Place-conscious pedagogy embeds hands‐on, real‐world learning experiences with students at the centre. Greater student engagement in what is relevant and what matters increases academic achievement, and helps students develop stronger ties to their community, enhances students’ appreciation for the natural world, and creates a heightened commitment to serve as active contributing citizens.” School District #10 (Arrow Lakes) website
What does it mean to be a Place-Conscious Educator?
Teachers who become place conscious consider the interconnectedness between environment, culture, and education (Gruenewald, 2003). When teachers and students engage in education outside the classroom, complicated realities can emerge that may reflect the social, political, and economic circumstances of their community (Freire & Ramos,1970). Pedagogies of place look different depending on the rural or (sub)urban context in which they are actualized, so a place conscious educator is aware of the varied power dynamics that can emerge specific to land use in both rural and (sub)urban settings (Gruenewald, 2003).
How do I become a Place-Conscious Educator?
David Greenwood offers three critical questions for place-conscious learning: what happened here, what is happening here now, and what should happen here? (Greenwood, 2013). According to Greenwood, the point of a place-conscious education is to “discover, recover, and reconstruct the self in relationship to place. Learning to listen to this complex relationship of self and other, human and nonhuman, is the ultimate educational challenge” (p.99).
Visit “Supportive Routines for Place-Conscious Learning” on ruralteachers.com
With thanks to Megan Zeni, content author.
British Columbia Ministry of Education, (2021a). Glossary of Curriculum Terms. Retrieved from the BC Ministry of Education Website: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/sites/curriculum.gov.bc.ca/files/pdf/supports/glossary.pdf
Dahle-Huff, & Kari L. (2015). Learning Locally: Place Conscious Education in an Urban Charter School, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Fraser, E. (2016). Place-Conscious Pedagogy and Sackville, New Brunswick, as a Learning Community. Journal of New Brunswick Studies, 7 (1), 105-128.
Freire, P., & Ramos, M. B. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Herder and Herder.
Greenwood, D. (2013) A Critical Theory of Place Conscious Education. In Stevenson R. B., Brody M., Dillon J. and Wals A. E. J.(Eds.), International handbook of research on environmental education. Routledge.
Gruenewald, D. A. (2003) Foundations of place: A multidisciplinary framework for place-conscious education. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 619-654.
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