I’ve been reading a lot and this is my favourite sentence recently “What if local knowledge – which in Geertz’s appropriately pleonastic locution, “presents locally to locals a local turn of mind (1983:12) – precedes the knowledge of space?” (Casey, 1996, p. 16). I think it’s hilarious that someone who is very wordy talks about another person’s wordiness. But more than that it got me really thinking of what comes first. Space, or place?
And why does one come first? Can we know the general without knowing the specific? Do we need to know a bunch of things before we can go deep? Or do we need something that isn’t abstract first? Casey argues (I think anyway) that we need to understand our place first, and place should be a priority. I happen (right now) to agree.
So, what does this mean for teaching, does general happen before specific? Do we do the hands on thing first because we need that to know the general (again I think so)? But when do we do this outside? When do we dig deep in to our place (especially in an international school)?
We’ve been doing open minds this week, getting out into our city and exploring what it means to be here. We looked at China town and really started to wonder what objects might define us as a place. What is happening around us? Who is here? Why are these things here? The questions were great, and I think the students are feeling more connected (they asked for my Sang Cancil stories anyway, so they hopefully are becoming more connected to where they are).
So even though we may want students to know specific content standards, or general concept ideas, how can we really make things meaningful? What comes first?
Casey, E. (1996). How to get from space to place in a fairly short stretch of time phenomenological prolegomena. In K. Basso, H. (Ed.), Sense of Place. U.S.A.: School of American Research.