The place-based classroom in transition
Munro-Schuster, Maria Danelle.
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In this exploration of place, place-based pedagogy and transition, the author confronts the meaning of place in education, questioning her own use and understanding of the places in which she teaches and the way in which traditional place-based pedagogy has been regarded. Calling attention to the lack of place-based pedagogy in the college classroom, using Robert Brooke's Guiding Principles of a Place Conscious Education (2003) as framework, she walks the reader through the design of such a course for a basic writing classroom. Taking a step back from the traditional usage of place, which places an emphasis on both naturalness and permanence, the author focuses the course on the unnatural and temporary environment of the University. Writings collected from the course allows the author to further contemplate her students' understanding of the University as a place, and who they perceive themselves to be in the place of the University. The author likens the experience of college to that of travel, suggesting college is a temporary place that provides a time of neutrality in which new identities can be explored, as Tourist Studies' White and White (2004) put forth of travel. This thinking lends her analysis of student writings collected during the course to a theoretical framework used in the analysis of place narratives in tourist studies, as well as William Bridges' work on life transitions (2004). She finds that students initially indicate they are located in an imaginary University in which they are working through the process of grieving. She also finds that the University becomes the backdrop for student performances which assist in the process of identity (re)construction. These analyses indicate the complex multi-functionality the place of the University serves for students and how it can be in opposition to how it is perceived and utilized by instructors. With self at the center of initial understandings of a new place, this research advises that students can be facilitated through grieving, with the assistance of writing, to a state of neutrality where awareness of new educational concepts and identity formation can transpire.