Elfer, Charles Joseph
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Placed-based education, or PBE, is a contemporary educational term which refers to those forms of pedagogy that seek to connect learning to the local ecological, cultural, and historical contexts in which schooling itself takes place. As a formalized, named pedagogy, place-based education represents a relatively new field of exploration. This study sought to invigorate the historical conversation surrounding place-based educational theory and practice through the identification and exploration of historical precedents that were fundamentally similar in type. Three essential questions guided the research. First, utilizing a three-part filter which evaluated the extent to which curricular reform efforts maintained as core educational considerations the local, the learner, and the community, the study searched through a wealth of primary source materials to identify historical antecedents to modern place-based educational thinking. Secondly, the study also explored the sociopolitical contexts in which curricular reforms that were essentially place-based grew up historically. And thirdly, the study sought to identify the ways in which historical considerations of curricula might inform contemporary practice in the field of place-based education. Major findings include: (1) a clear determination that the core principles of place-based education are indeed quite mature, (2) recognition that historical place-based reform models often enjoyed wide institutional support as critiques of academic formalism, (3) an understanding that historical models addressed multiple disciplines across the curriculum, (4) a realization that local and non-local considerations were not mutually exclusive, and (5) an appreciation for the notion that successful negotiation of mainstream practice and curricular/pedagogical innovation were often essential to the widespread adoption of reforms historically.