Place- and Community-based Education in Practice: Starting with Local Knowledge and Issues
One of the challenges facing educators interested in encouraging their colleagues to implement place-and community-based approaches is that there is no play-or recipe book available that can be picked up to guide the design of lessons or units. The current trend in curriculum development is to create common scripts or syllabi that can be used anywhere. Teacher compliance with prescribed plans is often monitored by their superiors to assure the “fidelity” of program implementation. Even some environmental educators rely heavily on curriculum guides produced by Project Learning Tree, Project Wet, and Project Wild (Krafel, 1999). Such materials do provide a means for disseminating concepts and pedagogical practices viewed as desirable by their proponents; place-and community-based education, however, requires something different. By its very nature, it cannot be standardized or centralized; it must instead reflect the unique circumstances encountered in specific schools and communities. This means that teachers must take the initiative in developing lessons and plans responsive to the circumstances and opportunities that exist beyond their classrooms.