Place Based Learning!

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Trail, B.C.- 1985

Place Based learning is something that I feel very strongly about. However, because of the practicum exam and time constraints, I didn’t get to do half the things i wanted to do within our community. Grade Eleven Social Studies curriculum deals with a lot of content that could directly relate to Trail BC. For instance, our local museum has a great collection of artifacts from both the first and second World Wars. I would have loved to have brought my students to this museum so that they could see various connections to these wars and our hometown. However, because my students had to write the provincial exam, we often had to skim over content instead of diving in deeper and looking at the facts from our community standpoint. My sponsor teacher instructed me to follow his lead, as he was teaching the other Grade Eleven Social Studies class. Although, I have great respect for my sponsor teacher if  I were to teach this class again I would schedule in time for activities that allowed the students to discover their “place”.

The reason that I feel so passionate about place based learning stems from my own high-school experience.  When I was going to school, history was never something I was ever interested in. All it was were boring old dates in dusty old textbooks. The people didn’t seem real or even relevant to my life or my community. It wasn’t until much later that I began to see history in every corner of my hometown. My Nona had about a million stories to tell me from her experiences from growing up in Trail. She taught me about immigration, the depression, and living through WW2. It was then that I saw that history was in fact stories from the people who lived it. This is were I found my true passion for the subject and decided to dedicate my life to teaching it.

If I can get my students to understand that history is more then just boring dates, then maybe I can get them to actually be engaged in the subject. I don’t want my students to just memorize dates, I want them to understand the stories that make up history. Although, I didn’t have the necessary means to get my students out in the community to see the subject within its streets, that doesn’t mean I abandoned place based learning all together. I made sure to relate the subject to our community and share its experience as well. For instance, in my Grade Eleven class we debated the moral implications that came with Trail producing the atomic bomb. This brought what is normally deemed as world history to our backyard. That is what place- based learning means to me!

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