Do you think place matters?

This guy wanted the path.

Where we are matters. The places we live influence our identity and our work.
How do we make sense of our places? How do we understand them and our role in them?
In our current globalised world, we may often think of places as interchangeable or
relatively similar; however, each place may be unique and contribute significantly to how
we see ourselves. As we try to make sense of our mobility, how we think about where we
have been, how we think about what we have done, and how we try to rationalize what
we are doing we make connection to who we are, how we do things and the multiple
ways we can make sense of these processes, we may realize everything is happening in a
place. Tuan (1977) understood people to be spatial being, and we developed our ideas of
ourselves as we constructed the meaning of our social and spatial lives. While we try to
understand ourselves we may be able to turn to our place to help us find solutions to both
local and global issues (Relph 2008). A sense of place describes the interactions between
a place and people within a location to bring forth an understanding of reality for an
individual who is in that place (Relph 2008, Tuan 1977). Places teach us how to be in the
world and how the world works, moreover, places make us by shaping our identity and
culture (Gruenewald 2003, 2008). If we understand more about the places we live, we
may be able to make a significant impact on how we live.
According to ISC research, the October 2019 data shows there are 11, 321
international schools, with 559, 000 teachers serving over 5.7 million students with about
51.8 billion dollars involved (www.iscresearch.com). Many of these teachers are from a
place that is different from where they work. If where we are matters than what impact
does this mass migration of teachers have on education? Can students develop a sense of place if teachers are displaced? With so much money going into an international
education, and so many students involved should we be thinking about how teachers feel
in a place and how that influences their identity?

Gruenewald, D. A. (2003). Foundations of Place: A Multidisciplinary Framework for
Place-Conscious Education. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 619-
654

Gruenewald, D. A. (2008). The best of both worlds: a critical pedagogy of place.
Environmental Education Research, 14(3), 308-324.

Relph, E. (2008). A pragmatic sense of place. In F. Vanclay (Ed.), Making Sense of
Place. Canberra: National Museum of Australia

Tuan, Y.F. (1977). Space and place: The perspective of experience. Minnesota:
University of Minnesota Press.

Wondering about sense of place at the museum

I took this photo at the NUS museum.

I’ve been in the museum this week, and in the back of my mind is my paper. The links I can see in the paintings, make sense to my understanding of chapter one, but it is so difficult to clearly articulate my thoughts. Below is an attempt at my opening paragraph.

The places where we reside and work influence our professional and personal lives. Where we live can shape how we live. A sense of place describes the interactions and feelings shared between a place, people and a community to bring forth an understanding of reality for an individual who is in that place. Places teach us how to be in the world and how the world works, moreover, places make us by shaping our identity and culture (Gruenewald 2003). Tuan (1977) was instrumental in shaping how we think about sense of place. Over the years other thinkers (Relph, Massey, Greenwood, and many others) have continued to develop this idea and our understanding of this complex concept is continuing to develop. We know that place impacts our identity in multiple ways, but little research is being conducted into how expatriate international school teachers understand.

I guess I’m wondering how to really put it all together, I wonder how to make it clear to others what I want to study, and how I plan to go about it, I’m worried no one really cares or it won’t matter (but I’ll put those thoughts aside for now).

So I guess, how is this connected to the learning going on in the museum? I’m trying to share stories of place, which I read is important. But in this specific museum is a painting of samui women working. Not many people know of the samsui women, not many people know how important they are for shaping our place (and our identity as a nation). So I’m just trying to help our teachers and students learn a little more about where we live.

Why aren’t they getting this?

pxhere.com/en/photo/602020

I was reflecting on where we were in the dissertation process, and more specifically about my epistemology this week. While reading Davis and Sumara’s article. “Why aren’t they getting this”. So far in my studies, Place, being and resonance was one of my favourite reads. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ve read it more than once. I just find the ideas really resonate with me.  

“Ecohermeneutics means imploying language and attentive disciplines in education to remediate our “hyperseparation” from nourishing interconnections with the rest of life on the planet” (Derby, location 563). 

I’ve thought more about the importance of words, and the importance of communication more than anything during this doctoral journey so far. Some things from Davis and Sumara’s article really resonated with me. If we don’t use a common language, and a language that we all have a common understanding about, then as educators we can’t use the same types of learning and teaching. We need to have the same understanding of how to use the words around our practice, and the importance of contributing to the shared identity of our classrooms.

“Also, we wanted to learn more about how to help experienced teachers interpret current and new teaching methods in relation to theories of learning suggested by recent scholarly work” (Davis & Sumara, p. 123). As “experienced” teachers we feel we know the ground, while theorists only know ideas. We “live” in a different world and have a different way of communicating (which is why this program is kind of interesting). What we are really changing is the ontological idea of a teacher, not really what the teacher does. If we can’t all fully believe (as a society I guess) that the end of year test isn’t important, then it is always a teachers job to help students reach success, which might be that test.  So if success isn’t clear, if the learning path isn’t clearly understood by everyone, I wonder how we, as teachers, can ever really get it?

Constructivism is the lens that the researchers are looking through but I feel like the real problem “Why aren’t they getting it” goes beyond the idea of constructivism, why is it so hard for us to really understand who we are, why is it so hard for us to change our way of being? It’s not really about getting the knowledge, maybe it’s more about us “restructuring” our way of thinking, changing it up and not being afraid to take some things down or grow in different ways. 

Brent Davis & Dennis Sumara (2003) Why Aren’t They Getting This? Working through the regressive myths of constructivist pedagogy, Teaching Education, 14:2, 123-140, DOI: 10.1080/1047621032000092922

Derby, M (2015) Place Being Resonance, Peter Lang, New York

Mapping and a sense of place

http://Attribution Some rights reserved by jmettraux

I was reading this article on how mapping can help us better understand how people relate to space the other day. I’m trying hard to look for more quantitative methodologies when I’m doing my review. Right now I’m taking a quantitative class, and it really pushes me, so I want to see how people approach this idea of sense of place from a quantitative perspective.

I’m not sure the research really pushed my thinking further, but it was good to have more evidence that supported where I was going and what I was thinking.

Most interestingly, perhaps, is this idea that the closer people are to the environment, the less likely they perceive the government as willing or capable of helping.

One of the lines that really resonated with me from this reading was “ Where the attitude variables were concerned, on average, respondents tended not to trust the water authority or technology to solve stormwater pollution; felt that paying additional sums of money to fix the problem was more unfair than fair; and were pro-environmentally disposed.” (Jorgensen & Stedman, 2011) 

This idea really reminded me of Edward Abbey and the Monkey Wrench Gang. It seems like the more you believe in the Earth and the systems that work within it, the less likely we see hope coming from people being able to organise support or care for the Earth.

Maybe it was just a one off thing, but really got me thinking this week.

Jorgensen, B. S., & Stedman, R. C. (2011). Measuring the spatial component of sense of place: a methodology for research on the spatial dynamics of psychological experiences of places. Environment & Planning B: Planning & Design38(5), 795–81