Place as an essential in-between of children and sustainability

In considering the question: Why use place as a conceptual framework? in Chapter 1 we noted how place potentially offers a common language that enables a bridge between the local and global, indigenous and non-indigenous, the real and representational and different disciplinary formations. This section examines the ways that place functions in the relations between children and sustainability education in the projects we have described throughout the book.

Place as enacted

Place as it is enacted in the different projects reveals the ways that place functions pedagogically between children and sustainability. The larger framework of place as bioregion was proposed in Chapter 2 as a way to move from theorising the pedagogical function of place in a single school and its relationship with a local wetland to thinking about multiple schools across a region. A bioregion is defined as an important socio-ecological unit of analysis comprising an area of land and/or water whose limits are identified by 'the geographical distribution of biophysical attributes, ecological systems and human communities' (Brunckhorst, 2000, p. 37). Place as bioregion was realised through children's activities as a constellation of local places defined from within. These groupings of connected local places are defined from the inside by the actions of children rather than from the outside as formal boundaries. These local places include multiple sites within school grounds and other nearby places where children take action through their sustainability learning. Through the children's actions in each of the sites the places are connected to each other. For example, in planting trees in the school grounds and in the local wetland, and placing nesting boxes in the trees for the local birds, they connect school and wetland, birds and children. When the children observe the flow of water that carries human waste to other places and change their actions accordingly, the places are animated in relation to each other, forming an alive constellation of local places. Within this larger framework place is enacted in different ways according to the relations between children and place in particular sustainability activities.

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