Proposition 1 - Know and Share the Purpose of Learning with Place
Updated: Sep 28
In this series of Propositions podcasts, written by Dr. Catherine Hamm and Dr. Jeanne Marie Iorio, we are invited to begin the learning and teaching journey towards 'Learning with Place'. To begin, we need to choose a place to facilitate this journey, somewhere outside that we can notice our perspectives shift, and our relationship with Place becoming enriched, as we learn to consider the complexities and to listen with Place.
This podcast and others in the 'Proposition' series, draw on experiences where this has happened with students, and the reflections from the children are shared.
Please feel free to share your reflections and questions in the comments below.
Proposition 1: Know and share the purpose of Learning with Place
Climate change is a threat across the globe. Human influence has contributed to increases in global temperatures. Approximately 14 million tons of plastic become part of the ocean environment every year. Sea levels will continue to rise, hotter days will become more frequent, and extreme rainfalls, and bushfire events will be commonplace as part of the impacts of climate change This current, and ongoing state of environmental precarity such as floods and bushfires, is reflective of the lack of relationships between humans and the environment. Children, families, and communities are directly impacted by the current devastating state of the environment as natural disasters, poverty, food scarcity, migration, and water insecurity are consequences of climate change. At the same time, children, families, and communities are the critical stakeholders in altering the course in the climate crisis.
Learning with Place is a way to address climate change and work towards positive climate action. Specifically, Learning with Place foregrounds the local environment as an active place to inform practices, policies, and decision-making with the long-term goal of generating changes in climate action attitudes and behaviours as people build deep relationships with the environment. Learning with Place is inclusive of local knowledges and stories, histories and living multispecies (for example, landforms, waterways, animals, insects, flora, and fauna).
Learning with place is situated within an understanding of the entanglement of nature and culture. Teaching and learning with Place understands that children think, listen, play, and live with more-than-human relations within their shared worlds. More-than-human includes histories and stories of colonial futures, pasts, and present as well as place, flora, fauna, multi-species, landforms, and waterways. Learning with place brings together humans and more-than-human to think and act towards a time where we thrive together, a time that responds to the ethics and politics of local places. Learning with Place draws on core concepts that intentionally foreground First Nations perspectives, frame Place as active and agentic and respond to environmental justice.
So how does this look in action?
Children and teachers from a regional educational site have been learning with local places for the past five years. For this site, this means visiting the local place once a fortnight for an extended period of time and for children and teachers in the 3/4 Learning Community, this means that they have been Learning with Place since beginning in Foundation (First year of formal school). What the children consistently recognise is how the places they spend time with influence how they act in the world and how these actions act on climate change. The teachers note how the language the children use to describe these places has changed to make visible the deep relationship with the planet.
Imagine a teaching planning session, teachers gathered around a table with pictures, notes, and their own wonderings scribbled down on paper in front of them. In this instance, these teachers are wondering how they might support the children to articulate their ideas and understanding so others beyond the school community might act on climate change.
After a lively dialogue between the teachers, a provocation is constructed to bring to the children’s meeting for discussion: How might you tell others how to learn with Place?
Later that day, the children gather in their assembly meeting. Children come together on the floor in a circle so they can see each other easily. A teacher has written the provocation on the board in the circle. She shares the question with the children and then waits for responses.
Children begin to share and another teacher documents their ideas on sticky notes as well as her notes to ensure the assembly meeting can be revisited later.
I would tell people to find the symbiotic relationships they see and how they change with each visit.
It is important to be with the place and be calm.
You should explore what is around you. And if you can, identify what is around you like the animals or the plants.
They should find out what calls them into connection – what do you go to first.
After you visit your place, you should find out the histories and the stories of that Place.
I think you should be looking and seeing.
You should try and notice everything!
I would tell them to have fun with the Place.
It would be good to try and come up with theories about the Place. Like why is there no water in Creek today or why is there so much water in Creek today. It just depends on the day.
We need to tell people that Learning with Place is a way for us to help with climate change. We know that climate change is because people are not connected to the environment.
You have to be quiet and listen
If you see someone destroying the plants or hurting them, then tell them to stop
It is important to respect where you are, especially the land and the water.
Following the assembly meeting, the teachers gather all of the children’s thoughts on sticky notes together and discuss the connections across the ideas. These connections include relationships, exploration, histories, theories, observation, and respect. Revisiting the assembly meeting through the sticky notes and the teachers’ notes, several propositions begin to emerge, attempting to make visible all the teaching pedagogies practiced.
So now that you have heard this story, how might you act on this Proposition?
Try by a making a commitment to spend an extended amount of time outside. This could be just in your backyard or out of your front door. You could also find a local Place you can visit over and over. You could spend time in this place during the day or night. The focus of this is for you to make a commitment to spend time consistently. Can you visit every day? A few times a week? Once a week? Whatever you decide, just make your schedule and then commit to these moments.
What is the purpose of Learning with Place in your site?
How will you act on this purpose in your site?