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

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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.