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Some Theory about Science and a Sense of Place

Anne Dalke's picture

Some Theory about "Science and a Sense of Place"

Randal Holly, last summer's institute:
"What aspects of their world do our kids care about?
What would it distress them to lose? (Anything made of marble...??)
Can we use that as an incentive to learn?"

Gregory Smith, "Learning to be Where we Are":
place-based learning is grounded in local phenomena
& students' lived experience

schools direct students' attention away from their own circumstances/ways of knowing
learning comes from texts, lectures, videos, not full-bodied encounters w/ the world
experience is mediated; education is internalizing/mastering others' knowledge

John Dewey: great waste in isolation of school from
child's experience outside it/in home/neighborhood

disconnection exacerbated by national preoccupation w/
standardized test scores (=generic curricular models)
dropouts: don't accept teachers' account of what counts as valuable knowledge

real-world problem solving, deeply grounded in particular places
learning that environmental problems can't be solved in isolation
(see "An Inconvenient Truth"!)
start w/ the local, enlarge beyond it to regional, national, international

David Gruenewald, "A Critical Pedagogy of Place"
ed'l concern for local place overshadowed by discourse of economic competitiveness
current educational reforms are "placeless":
to compete in global economy, they seek to
standardize the experience of students fr. diverse places

they dismiss the idea of place as a primary experiential/educational context
to focus on learning technologies in classrooms
limits/devalues/distorts local geographical experience
how to use education to promote the well-being of places?
how can we get beyond the limits of the classroom
to interrogate the places outside of school?
how can we expand the school experience
to the socio-ecological places "just beyond the classroom"?
what needs conserving/transforming in those places?

place foregrounds local, regional politics,
attuned to particularities of where people live
place-based ed emphasizes rural ecology, not urban life
what's a pedagogy of place look like in the city?
how can we highlight the interactions between cultures and ecosystems?
locus of environmental care will shift, depending on social/geographical position
how to help get our kids to learn and care about/
for the places where they live-and-work-and-play?
what is the role of children's "special places" (forts, dens...)?

how can we use mapping to broaden their view of the world?
can we re-think the classroom as fundamental site of teaching/learning?
can we re-define achievement in terms of the
social/ecological quality of community life?
can we replace quantitative paper-and-pencil outcomes,
which are earned @ the expense of what it means to "live well"?

Nora Newcombe, "A Plea for Spatial Literacy"
the challenge of spatial thinking (mapping routes and relationships:
problems in logic, distribution of variables--
i.e. John Snow's locating cholera in one contaminated water pump;
Watson and Crick fitting known facts to he double helix,
a 3D model of structure of DNA;
geoscience; engineering; neurosurgery)
is spatial thinking a particular challenge for women/lower-income/
any particular group of people?
(think of gender differences in map-making/route-finding....)