Throughout this summer session the grad students have been exploring the ideas of place-based education through a weekly overnight field course. Along with preparing for our own place-based education program coming up in September, Fall in the Field, we have been exploring natural history and formulating our own sense of what place-based education can and should mean. We have stationed ourselves in two spectacular settings at the Deer Creek Center in Selma, OR and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument just outside of Ashland. Here we have explored fens, enjoyed breathtaking views of the valley, collected macroinvertebrates, and discussed local ecology. While immersing ourselves in these adventures we have also been spending our evenings reading and discussing David Sobel’s book, Place-Based Education. It is full of examples of how schools and teachers all over the country are returning to their communities and engaging in a different approach to learning. One description states,
“Place-based education challenges the meaning of education by asking seemingly simple questions: Where am I? What is the nature of this place? What sustains this community? It often employs a process of re-storytelling, whereby students are asked to respond creatively to stories of their homeground so that, in time, they are able to position themselves, imaginatively and actually, within the continuum of nature and culture in that place. They become part of the community, rather than a passive observer of it”. (Sobel, iii)
I think it is safe to say that our cohort is nourished and inspired by the ideals of place-based education and cannot wait to implement them for our Fall in the Field 2012!