The Value of Place


Michael Dentzau

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Cultural Studies of Science Education


Volume 9


Issue 1

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This commentary seeks to expand the dialogue on place-based science education presented in Katie Lynn Brkich's article, where the connections fifth grade students make between their formal earth science curriculum and their lived experiences are highlighted. The disconnect between the curriculum the students are offered and their immediate environment is clear, and we are presented with examples of how they strive to make connections between the content and what they are familiar with-namely their surroundings. 'Place' is identified as a term with complex meanings and interpretations, even in the scope of place-based science education, and understanding how the term is used in any given scenario is essential to understanding the implications of place-based education. Is place used as a location, locale or a sense of place? To understand 'place' is to acknowledge that for the individual, it is highly situational, cultural and personal. It is just such attributes that make place-based education appealing, and potentially powerful, pedagogically on one hand, yet complex for implementation on the other. The argument is posed that place is particularly important in the context of education about the environment, which in its simplest manifestation, connects formal science curriculum to resources that are local and tangible to students. The incorporation of place in such a framework seeks to bridge the gap between formal school science subjects and students' lived experiences, yet acknowledges the tensions that can arise between accommodating place meanings and the desire to acculturate students into the language of the scientific community. The disconnect between guiding policy frameworks and the reality of the Next Generation Science Standards is addressed opening an avenue for further discussion of the importance of socio-cultural frameworks of science learning in an ever increasing era of accountability.

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