When we talk about the importance of place, especially when you put educators or teachers in the search terms, we often get information on place based education. We’ve been really trying to connect to our community lately and I’ve revisited this book in order to look how to make some meaningful connections.
One of my big take aways, especially as a member of an international community, is that community based education helps us to become a member of a community rather than an observer of that community.
As international students and teachers it is easy to get lost in developing a sense of place. It is easy for us to cling to our old identities and stay in our same ways. However, when we move to get out of the community, when we try to get ties to our new place, we change a little who we are. We stop being passive observers of a culture and start becoming members and co-creators of a community.
Previously we’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to bring HDB community garden members into our garden. We start by building community (at least my thought at the time was) by opening our doors, bringing people in, and then working together. However, we moved from that to go to their garden. How are they doing it, what can we learn, how can we help?
I think it goes back to this idea of listening, and this idea of watching systems. When we really understand something, when we try to be a part of it (rather than trying to insert our views right away, we can make a bigger difference in ourselves and then the community.
So, if we can start building on our service learning, and really try to develop a place based curriculum. I wonder how effective we could be in transforming ourselves into members of the community.
Is anyone in an international school doing this really effectively? Care to share some ideas?
I’ve been thinking about this idea this week, not only in my doctoral journey, but often times as a teacher we represent more than one, but often we’re just on our own. A classroom sometimes can feel isolated, like we’re in our own cage beside people also in their own cages. I’ve been wondering how to work with the people outside of our small little community to make a bigger difference.
As a class I think we’re more free range than most, we’re outside almost every day, we’re getting dirty, we’re learning lots in different spaces, but we’re still kind of doing that on our own. How can we break out of this cage and do more than just be with us, how do we start mixing with the other classes and maybe make a bigger difference?
As I’m exploring this idea of a sense of place and how to develop a sense of place the opposite comes into the research as well. When we think about globalization and how it fosters this idea of placelessness I wonder about how we can really combat this idea.
Society tells us to rely on this idea of individualism, that we are important that our needs should come first. When we are abroad we see the same stores, we can buy the same food almost everywhere, it seems like everything we want is everywhere we want it. I wonder if this takes us away from the idea of the importance of place. Because everything is interchangeable places might lose their value.
We need to take time in a place, we need to build a relationship with the things in that place (human and more than human). By building these relationships we can start to combat this individualism and globalisation. We need to take time in a place, we need to slow down and we need to pay attention to place.
First day back after two weeks of holidays, most of it went pretty well. The work with the kids was pretty amazing. We talked about the power of stories and metaphor. We did some math games and learned how to connect our order of operations into something meaningful (I hope).
Everyday I’m reading, mostly about doctorate stuff but I go back to Give and Take by Adam Grant as much as possible (sadly not that often). The part I read today was discussing this idea that being powerless can be a powerful negotiating tool. When we go in asking questions like, “How would you do this?” or “What would you do in this situation?” it can put us in a powerless position. But most of the time, especially if we are a giver and well respected in our work community, it can reap large rewards.
Most of the time we try to pretend like we know something or have some sort of power. When interacting with others we try to show how we deserve something or argue about our importance to our institution, but if we really just ask and try to learn I think we can maybe go further with both our relationships and our actual understanding of how to do our job better.
How do we position ourselves to be better at asking for help? When and how could this backfire? What do we need to be actual givers? I had a lot of questions today.
For all of the reading I do, I feel like I resonate most with David Greenwood. Happily, he’s even offered to help me with some of my work in the future.
What I think is important for us as teachers and people is to be place-responsive. We need to love the land in order to do anything with it, or for it. We need to develop a love of the land (based on significant life experiences most likely) in order to really listen and really respond for the best of the system, not just the best for our economic situation.
Developing these relationships should empower people to act on their own, based on where they are. We should not have to wait for government, or business to direct our actions, we need to know more about who we are as people and how we relate to the land, and then we will take the action on our own.
So, other than magic spots, or sit spots with our kids, how can we really foster this love of place with our students? What are we doing to make sure our students are in touch with their land, their place, and who they are?
Gruenewald, D. A. (2008). The best of both worlds: a critical pedagogy of place. Environmental Education Research, 14(3).
Just finished re-reading “Being Across Homes” it explores this idea of how we are different people in different places. As an international educator I feel like I have many different homes. The place my parents consider home is in Ontario, my home is now in Singapore, but a place that will always sort of be home is Phnom Penh (pictured above). While all those places played a vital role in shaping who I am, and who I was, but I feel like each place I was also a somewhat different person.
A lot of the article talks about how community shapes us by giving us social clues, or opportunities to be who we are, or become who we are supposed to become. The people around us help mold us and help give us clues on how to act, and we respond differently to these cues in the different places we are in. While much of this did not delve deeply into how places shapes us as people, it did talk a lot about how we are different people in different places.
From this idea I was wondering about the importance of a true self, or most true self. Is there a person we are “supposed” to be, or static kind of true who we are? Or do the places and people around us continue to shape us and help us grow. From what I read, fundamentally we have specific characteristics, but can we actually embody other forms of action based on where we are and who is around us?
Hubard, O. (2011). Being across Homes. Teachers College Record, 113(6), 1255-1274.
I think I’m going to try to focus on an article every once in awhile and write a small reflection on it. That might help me with both the idea of writing, and the process of researching. Happy days for sure.
There is a wondering in some of the literature about if a sense of place is important any more (or I guess if it ever was). One of the points that really popped out at me today was this idea that as international school teachers most of us are preoccupied with what a place can give us (reputation, pd, pay, location, etc.) so when we are looking for a place to live, we’re not really looking for a place to live, we’re looking for a place that meets our economic and social needs first. The culture of a place isn’t always our first priority. However, most of what we are asked to do (maybe in the hidden curriculum) is pass along values and culture.
There seems to be a tension in these two areas, we’re being asked to represent some culture we come from without really caring about the culture we are going to. We need to be aware of who we are, but not in relationship to a place, rather who we are in general. It seems a little neo-colonial at times.
How do we really belong to a place if we don’t ask questions about that place, or try to fit into that place? How do we connect when we aren’t really listening?
If “(Place has) power to direct and stabilize us, to memorialize and identify us, to tell us who and what we are in terms of where we are (as well as where we are not).” (Casey, 1993, p. xv) Then how are we interacting with that power, and what does that mean for our future as teachers?
Casey, E. (1993) Getting back into place: toward a renewed understanding of the place-world (Bloomington, Indiana University Press).
Freema Elbaz‐Luwisch (2004) Immigrant teachers: stories of self and place, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 17:3, 387-414, DOI: 10.1080/0951839042000204634