Understanding context and issues is an important aspect of understanding our role in a democracy and aids in giving students a voice, to raise issues around human existence, sustainability and sustainable growth. This has to be built in at all stages of a child’s journey through school in order to have a lasting impact. One way in which this can be made accessible for students is through “Place as Pedagogy.” This provides a framework for learning that uses surroundings and communities outside the classroom in the neighborhood. This enables young people to construct their own understanding and learning based on observation and experience, connect with their community and understand the relevance of sustainable living.
Knowledge and insight gained from these explorations form an essential layer of learning that builds on skills and domain-specific knowledge for each grade level. This becomes the cornerstone of 21st-century literacy and builds the ability to see problems and offer viable solutions in their spheres of influence.
In a guided walk through a reserve forest nearby, students observed the impact of human industry on the natural environment when they saw sheetrock and abandoned quarries. Impact of this was clearly evident especially when they saw a pugmark of a leopard that inhabits the same space. They came up with their own charter to bring change into their lives and communities. Learning was visible, palpable and enduring.
On another short walk around a polluted lake close to our school, students observed that many of the birds they saw were predators and this led them to think about the condition of the lake. Others observed the types of plants that grew and had conversations with farmers and they learned that many vegetables and fruits could not be grown in such a soil. This again got them to reflect on the state of the lake, the effluents, the industries around the lake and the impact of man on natural spaces. This proved to be a powerful way of making students reflect on their own
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