Our nation’s capitol means many things to many people: a city of rich historical tradition, the home of important policy and cultural conversations, a popular tourist destination, a place with international power and significance.
For us at Blyth-Templeton Academy DC, Washington, D.C. is our home and community, the location of our founding school, and the ideal type of city for our specialized place-based education model to take root.
In this post, we explain what place-based education looks like in the city of D.C. and how our students take advantage of this city’s vast resources for experiential learning.
What is Place-Based Learning?
Place-based education is a method of instruction that engages students in learning by connecting them with their existing environment, the place and location in which they live. This approach to education relies on local culture, spaces, opportunities, and resources and invites students into immersive, tangible experiences that complement their learning across the full range of traditional school subjects.
Rather than relying on the static classroom environment and teachers’ lectures, place-based education sends students out on excursions to learn more about their physical and cultural place in the world, using this experience as a springboard for intellectual and individual development.
Place-based education is good for students and good for communities. It creates positive cycles of engagement as students become more aware of their individual role in the context of a larger whole. Things like empathy, creative thinking, and civic involvement are borne out of students’ encounters with the people and places in which they live.
Place-Based Learning and Washington D.C.
Now that we’ve explored the definition of place-based learning, it should be clear why we love our location in Washington, D.C.
There is an enormous amount of resources, spaces, and organizations existing in Washington, D.C. that can offer learning opportunities to interested students. For teachers who are intentionally planning out a course of study in math, social science, history, or literally any other subject, Washington D.C. has resources to offer that can be incorporated for experiential, place-based learning.
Here at BTA, we encourage our teachers to take students out at least once a week. Students go on excursions with their classes, we have all school excursions, and we have all school service days once a month which also gets us out and into DC.
Recent excursions have included an outing by the World History class to study old maps at the Library of Congress and another to the National Gallery of Art by the Photography class. The Natural History Museum is so full of educational potential that both the Mythology and Physics classes headed there in the first half of February. In their study of the historic spice trade, World History students headed to Souk on nearby Barrack’s Row to learn about specific spices and get samples.
Check Out the D.C. Spots BTA Interacts with to Make Place-Based Learning Happen
Blyth-Templeton Academy's curriculum makes use of Washington, D.C.'s vast resources, challenging students to connect their classroom experiences to the real world. Our goal is that students walk away from these experiences with a deeper understanding of the world around them, a desire to be a member and contributor to their communities, and independent, confident learners.
Here are a few examples of the organizations and community resources with whom we have interacted so far. (This is a highly abbreviated list, the full list of organizations, places, and resources can be found here.)
Want to Learn More about Place-Based Education? Check Out Our New Resource
If you’re interested in exploring the benefits and methods of place-based education, we’ve got all the information you need.
Our new resource, The Place-Based Approach to Education: What It Is and Why It Matters, can answer all your questions about how this model works and what it means for long-term college, career, and life success for students.
Check out our full resource today to learn more!