Sunday, August 25, 2019

Place Based Education

In place-based education, we typically frame lessons (teachings, dharmas) against the backdrop of a kind of tourism: exploring a geographical area, providing both timeline and trajectory.
Hyperlinks to focal topics, presuming we have some, may play off environmental features, such as architecture as a link to geometry (octet-truss) or Earth's rotation (pendulum) or literature (Narnia, C.S. Lewis).

Accessing entirely "other" worlds is often accomplished not by "zooming out" so much as by "zooming in": a specific detail (perhaps a flyer stapled to a phone pole, a restaurant menu, a free newspaper, a festival booth) takes us off on an instructive tangent.

Yet we have our place to which we return, thereby anchoring the narrative to a contextualizing (and increasingly familiar) context.  Sesame Street (a TV program for children), but also many other TV shows, are "place based" in design, although the "place" is often fictional.

Fictional places are OK too, however consider the possibility of leveraging whatever reality you actually live in.  Investing time in studying your own environment (for real) is a big part of what place-based education is all about.  Students will benefit by gaining traction within a non-fictional viewpoint, which may yet seem "otherworldly" or "alien".

Place-based education is both a way of learning, and a way of sharing or teaching. Learn the stories of your place, then weave those in, with your own spin and interpretation, as you share your place with others. I'm providing examples.

Note that place-based education does not require touring far afield. If your lifestyle features a lot of travel, the place may keep changing. However rooting yourself in a specific place (e.g. both these slide shows feature Portland, Oregon) is perfectly legit and will, over time, take your students deeper into the lore, while facilitating omni-triangulation (connecting the dots) regarding your locale.