Learning where you are
The training day began at the Springfield Art Museum, where, after a welcome, the soon-to-be teachers went outside. Reichel divided the group into pairs to share their stories — and photos of a setting they defined as “their place,” and why the images meant something to them.
“Her favorite thing is painting,” said one student of another as they stood near the museum’s concrete columns. “She loves to be outside and paint, and she likes to go on walks.”
“His place is Eureka Springs,” another student remarked. “He talked about how there were purple chimneys there, and you can smell the old book smell.”
“Her picture was out her front door, and you could see the road, and it was like a sunset. Her road was a paved road,” said another future teacher.
While elements varied, they tied to a common theme: Defining details about the world around them.
“Place can have a really powerful connection with us,” Reichel said. “It can really instill a lot of memories, it’s vivid in our mind, we remember it. The more we try to connect our learning experiences with our students … they’re more likely to remember. Perhaps more than if they were sitting in a classroom.
“This is one way that you infuse place-based education into the curriculum. That’s why we’re here, because I’m attempting to model it for them. This is your experience as a university student in a place-based education experience and how could you take this and transform this experience to students in your classroom?”