HomeRio Grande Valley Primary Source GuidesWhy Place Based Education?

Why Place Based Education?


Place-based education (PBE) is an interdisciplinary approach that supports understanding local communities and their resources. Gruenewald (2003) defines PBE as a community effort to reconnect the process of education, the impact of enculturation, and human development to the well-being of community life.

Place-based education creates a better learning experience for 21st- century learners. Gruenewald (2003) found that place-based education can help increase student engagement and understanding through multidisciplinary and experiential learning.

The approach of place-based education is needed to help young people critically examine the political, social, environmental, and economic structures of communities. These practices have been especially beneficial to communities that have continuously remain under-resourced underdeveloped and overlooked (Smith & Sobel, 2010). The approach of place-based education is connected to the progressive education movement (Cremin, 1959). A significant premise of the progressive education movement is that students learn best in educational environments that provide students opportunities to learn by doing (Weiler, 2004). Place-based education gives teachers and students opportunities to learn from key stakeholders in the community. Community stakeholders that are included in the TEKS and can work well in conjunction with PBE are those that hold primary source materials, such as special collections and archives.

Place-based education helps young people connect their life experiences to classroom instruction, addresses curriculum and instruction through a multidisciplinary lens, and structures the community as the foundation for learning. These practices guide students to become critical thinkers, agents, and informed leaders of their community. Place-based education emphasizes the importance of location as the nucleus for engaging lessons across the K-12 curriculum. For these reasons this framework is ideal for guiding a project like this which allows prospective teachers to explore, create, and teach the history and culture of their community.