Learning is intricately connected to the context and situation of the learner – their place. Learnlife Learning Guides will help learners develop this sense of place by taking them on a journey that expands their understanding of their world. Ultimately that understanding will expand from local to global. Education systems, which usually focus on ‘improvement’ are more linked to content than context. To understand the world, learners need to immerse themselves in the context. Content becomes meaningful. As a learner connects with their local, regional and global contexts, grappling with the real issues of their communities, their purpose will expand.
place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local—the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature, and art of a particular place—that is, in students' own “place” or immediate schoolyard, neighbourhood, town or community.
Principles of Successful Place-Based Education
- Learning takes place on-site in the school yard, and in the local community and environment.
- Learning focuses on local themes, systems, and content.
- Learning is personally relevant to the learner.
- Learning experiences contribute to the community’s vitality and environmental quality and support the community’s role in fostering global environmental quality.
- Learning is supported by strong and varied partnerships with local organisations, agencies, businesses, and government.
- Learning is interdisciplinary.
- Learning experiences are tailored to the local audience.
- Learning is grounded in and supports the development of a love for one’s place.
- Local learning serves as the foundation for understanding and participating appropriately in regional and global issues.
Place-based education programs are integral to achieving other institutional goals.
There are increasing examples of programs, projects or schools around the world that are taking this integrated mind set into the adolescent years of learning. The notion of place evolves into an authentic connection between the learning experience of the learner and the real-world experiences – or places – to which they contribute. While they might all have their own unique flavour, they would be united in a belief that learning has to be contextualised – and connected to real life issues. The following are just some of the schools that have challenged the thinking and methodology of Learnlife:
- High Tech High (San Diego) – especially in extending thinking around deep project-based approaches
- NBCS (Sydney) – an adaptive and curiosity driven model exploring the connections between deep relationship, collaboration, physical space and technological innovation as the background to deep learning
- NuVu (Boston) – pedagogy is informed by the architectural design Studio where a coach guides students in hands-on problem-solving to solve complex, comprehensive problems
- IRIS (London) – IRIS connects cutting edge research projects to school students, who aid in the data analysis and acquisition. Genuine science where students aren’t just repeating experiments
- Nueva School (San Francisco) – noted for inquiry-based interdisciplinary studies, constructivist project-based learning and its pioneering work in social emotional learning and design thinking
- Evangelische Schule (Berlin) builds on the AGENDA 21 equitable pillars - learning to acquire knowledge; learning to live together; earning to act; learning sustainability
Learning needs to be connected to and inspired by where we are – in a physical, emotional, interpersonal and intra-personal sense. Participatory action research, ethnographic and autoethnographic studies, field work, and stewardship projects are all ways that Learnlife learners will be immersed in rich, place-based experiences.