Engaging the senses

Mudskippers in the wild

I’ve been rereading all the articles, trying to add a critique and look more meaningfully at the research methods and purpose of the study. While doing this I’ve really come to rethink some of what I’ve taken from each article. It’s been a great ride so far, only 50 more articles to reread.

Anyway, Semken and Freeman (2008) have this interesting article about how science teachers and sense of place are connected. They talk about the importance of bringing sense back into the classroom and we have to start with connecting the teacher’s sense to increase the opportunity for students to access their senses.

One of the things that always causes tension for me when reading these articles is the desire to quantify a sense of place. Scientists love numbers right? So these two have used a scale to try to understand how a teacher’s attachment to place has grown. I wonder about this for my own work. I wonder how important it is to study a sense of place through a quantitative measure. Is it important to know how much it grows, or is it more important to know how the people feel about their attachment.

Anyway, since I’ve been taking the kids out to more local places I’m hoping that both teachers and students get more connected to places as we start to engage their emotions and physical senses.

Semken, S., & Freeman, C. B. (2008). Sense of Place in the Practice and Assessment of Place-Based Science Teaching. Science Education, 92(6), 1042-1057.

Place and immigrant teachers

I’ve been reading over some more papers. And this paper by Elbaz-Luwisch has really intrigued me, she draws on Casey (1994), Orr (1992) and Clandinin and Connelly often, which may be why she intrigues me, but she wants to know more about immigrant teachers and their relationship with place. Not many people are exploring this, and while the teachers she has studied do not work at international schools, I feel they may experience the same sorts of tensions.

Teachers are often asked to represent cultures, or be an active (re) creator of the cultures we live in. However, when people are not “locals” I wonder how we can really focus on, or think about developing a culture we aren’t really a part of? Casey (1994) talks about about the tensions most people feel about not really feeling secure in a space, I wonder more about how people who are transient by nature can really feel at home. If we don’t feel at home, how can we work at developing the culture of the place?

It seems as though this paper suggests by spending more time in a place, any by co-culturing a place we can change it from a location to something more meaningful. I wonder how we can work with teachers to work on this co-construction. We have to remember though that the people in the community also co-construct place, and how they interact with a new person can also shape a person’s sense of place.

There’s a lot going on in this paper, but I really wonder about how we can work with teachers to make more of a sense of place, how do we help new comers feel welcome and share in our stories, how do we make global citizens and teachers more local?

Casey, E. (1993) Getting back into place: toward a renewed understanding of the place-world (Bloom- ington, Indiana University Press).

Elbaz‐Luwisch, F. (2004) Immigrant teachers: stories of self and place, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 17:3, 387-414, DOI: 10.1080/0951839042000204634

Orr, David (1992) Place and pedagogy, in: Ecological literacy: education and the transition to a post-modern world (Albany, SUNY Press), 125–131.

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.

How does diversity work at school?

What diversity are we hardwired to see?

I had a really interesting talk with my dissertation supervisor yesterday. We were talking (when we weren’t talking about my paper) about this idea of diversity in school. Her argument was that diversity in our local context is usually seen by teachers as academic readiness. So if you asked a local teacher about diversity in class, they would talk about how prepared a student was to take a new test, how academically ready they were and how they taught through differentiation.

They got me thinking about a couple of things. The first was an article I read recently. “What can diversity possibly mean when school curriculum is unabashedly standardized and managed as official knowledge? What becomes of diversity when schools isolate – by law and often by lock, key and sometimes barbed wire – teachers and learners from the wider community of which school are only a small and homogenous part? ” (Gruenewald 2010, p.142). Can we really only talk about diversity when we create a world where there is only one answer, one community, one solid identity.

This connected, through Gruenewald, how important sense of place is, and also how important diversity is in creating a sense of place. Place can create a shared identity, especially when looking at this through a human perspective. However, millions of living things take part in the development of most places. We need these things, they help form and shape where and who we are.

So I guess what I’m wondering is how do you see diversity in your school? Are you wondering about academic readiness, economic diversity, cultural diversity, religious diversity, social diversity, what other things do you see? And how do you teach for or to those different groups.

Gruenewald, D. A. (2010). Place Based Education: Grounding Culturally Responsive Teaching in Geographical Diversity In D. A. Gruenwald, Smith, G.A. (Ed.), Place Based Education in The Global Age: Local Diversity. New York, New York: Routledge.

Taking time

Looking for some food

I’ve been re-reading some of the papers for my literature review, specifically ones that might help me more when I take my new position next year. This quotation seemed to fit well with where I want the program to go. “Teachers determined that extended time was required to experience the place, to value it, and to harbour the disposition to teach about it; they learned in- depth content from spending time on-site, and they learned skills to extract knowledge from site through reading the landscape.” (Morris 2017)

From what I’ve read so far (and it seems like a lot) time helps people understand, helps them develop curiosity and drives them into a deeper relationship with the land. I’ve taken half the kids to the hawker center down the street, we’ve had some interesting conversations and this week we are formalising some of our primary source feedback. But for the second half, I think I’m going to take them to the other side of the school. Across the road a new park has been developed, I think this is a great time for us to think about the “What happened, what’s happening, what should happen?” set of questions. So today we are going to spend a significant (I hope the rain holds off) amount of time pondering these questions.

Ronald V. Morris (2017) Five Star Teacher: In-Service on the Move, The Social Studies, 108:5, 175-191, DOI: 10.1080/00377996.2017.1342159

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

Using New Media for place development

For my new media course, I still want to explore this idea of place and place making. I recently found this article, “A gateway to the global city: Mobile place-making practices by expats”

The major themes that seems to be prevalent in the literature like places matter, but people might matter more seem to prevail in this article. One of the things that really struck me while reading this was how we can almost be part of a place. When studying expats (like my interest in international teachers) I focused on people staying in the expat community not really having a sense of place. This article suggests they have a sense of place, although it may be slightly different.

Many of the expats in this article desired to have a more international experience, so while living in a place is important, knowing the people in that place wasn’t as important. They can be a part of the international community living in Paris, not really know any Parisians, and still (maybe) have a developed senes of place.

It will be interesting to see how these ideas progress and change along with my thinking. While it may not be the most engaging article for my research, I never thought about how participation in an online community, can bring me closer to understanding the international scene in a city, which will help me develop a sense of place (even if it’s not the “genus loci” sense of place).

Polson, E. (2015). A gateway to the global city: Mobile place-making practices by expats. new media & society, 17(4), 629-645.

Sense of Place in Australian Environmental Education Research: Distinctive, Missing or Displaced?

I’m trying to re-read articles and come up with some points so I have a better understanding of what I’m researching. I have more comprehensive notes, I just want to see how my thinking changes.

Some of the ideas from this article have jumped out at me differently than previous readings. “emplacement is not something people choose – it is, ontologically speaking, a condition of human being” (Trigger, 2008, p.301, in Stevenson, 2011).

As an expat. I’m not sure this is entirely true. While my birthplace was not chosen, I’ve been lucky enough to have the experience (at times) to choose my place. Stevenson (I think) argues more on my side, that we have a choice but mostly that choice is how we build our identity around our sense of place. Since a sense of place can be somewhat (depending on who we read) socially constructed, I wonder how this fits together.

I do agree, so far anyway, that we can’t really exist without place, we need to form some sort of relationship, regardless of how fleeting it might be, with the space we occupy. Regardless of where we are, this article suggests that place has some role to play on self identity.

As an expat, I also wonder about Gruenewald’s idea of globalisation as placelessness. This is a line I think I want to get more into as I wonder about the idea of displacement as being disempowering, which leads us do almost lack an identity?

These are my thoughts from relooking over this paper, hopefully I can be a little more disciplined and write more in the coming months.

Stevenson, R. B. (2011). Sense of Place in Australian Environmental Education Research: Distinctive, Missing or Displaced? Australian Journal Of Environmental Education,, 27(1), 46-55.