Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let's Look to Antioch

Antioch University New England, in Keene, New Hampshire, has a program that works in cooperation with schools called Community-Based School Environmental Education (hereafter, and familiarly, CO-SEED) to develop and implement place-based education projects and curriculum. CO-SEED is, more specifically, run by Antioch New England Institute (ANEI), which is a community outreach department within Antioch University.

The program speaks for itself well enough, so here is what it says:

CO-SEED, a project of ANEI's Center for Place-based Education is a three-year collaboration with particular schools and their communities to work together to develop place-based learning. By using the local natural and cultural environment as the setting for learning - and involving students in addressing community needs through hands-on service - CO-SEED projects seek to connect students, schools, curriculum, and community.

As I read more about experiences with place-based education, I have detected a recurring pattern, which you can find recorded by just about any teacher involved with this type of learning and teaching, through which such education becomes a critical and expressive venture for students as a matter of course. The process seems to go something like this: students experience a real-world phenomenon, they ask questions about it (importantly, they ask questions that use words like "what," "how," and, most powerfully, "why"), which results in seeking answers to those questions, which leads to imagining and working toward solutions, which necessarily leads to proposing visions and plans for the future.

CO-SEED is an organization with which we might consider cooperating as classroom teachers to support specific place-based learning projects as well as for acquiring ideas for implementing such projects on our own. It is important to remember that place-based education only works when students receive the support of capable, trusted, and caring adults (sometimes we call these people "teachers").

(I think this program deserves a link in the blog under "Educational and Advocacy Resources.")

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