a sense of place

Implementing place-based educational practices is of the utmost importance to rural schools and communities. The Rural School and Community Trust strongly supports place-based education for rural schools through its outreach and professional development activities for rural educators. According to the Rural Trust, place-based education has the following features:

  • Learning that is rooted in the unique history, environment, economy, and culture of a particular place
  • The community is the context for learning
  • Student work focuses on important community issues
  • Community members are partners and resources in teaching and learning
  • Products of student learning address community needs

Utilizing a local context does not mean disregarding national, state, or commonsense educational goals. In fact, Doris Williams of the Rural School and Community Trust believes that place-based education pairs relevance with academic rigor by promoting deep thinking in content areas, sustaining academic work as researchers and scholars, and meeting or exceeding state or local accountability standards.

Gregory A. Smith, co-author of the book Ecological Education in Action, wrote in an essay on place-based education that today's "generic" curriculums are not appropriate to the many diverse locales that dot the American landscape. He offers five approaches to place-based education that could be both research-based and include accountability models that should be sufficient. These practices include a) local cultural studies, b) local nature studies, c) community-issue investigation, d) local internships and entrepreneurial opportunities, and e) induction into community decision making. Wrote Smith, "The wall between the school and community becomes much more permeable when place based strategies are introduced.”

The following organizations are excellent resources for research related to place-based education: