Place- and Community-Based Education in Schools

By Gregory A. Smith, David Sobel

© 2010 – Routledge

184 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415875196
pub: 2010-02-02
US Dollars$45.95
Hardback: 9780415875189
pub: 2010-02-02
US Dollars$160.00

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Place- and community-based education – an approach to teaching and learning that starts with the local – addresses two critical gaps in the experience of many children now growing up in the United States: contact with the natural world and contact with community. It offers a way to extend young people’s attention beyond the classroom to the world as it actually is, and to engage them in the process of devising solutions to the social and environmental problems they will confront as adults. This approach can increase students’ engagement with learning and enhance their academic achievement.

Envisioned as a primer and guide for educators and members of the public interested in incorporating the local into schools in their own communities, this book explains the purpose and nature of place- and community-based education and provides multiple examples of its practice. The detailed descriptions of learning experiences set both within and beyond the classroom will help readers begin the process of advocating for or incorporating local content and experiences into their schools.


"To those educators and practitioners who are not familiar with place- and community-based education, Smith and Sobel’s book will offer an accessible and engaging entry into an important field…. In an era of school reform models that deliver scripted curricula, promise classroom order and discipline, and are shaped by competitive markets, Smith and Sobel offer a refreshingly different model—"to transform schools into living laboratories for democracy, places that can reinvigorate the neighborhoods and communities that surround them" (p. xiii)."--Teachers College Record

"Because both authors have already made significant contributions to the P-C-B E literature prior to this book, they are probably among the most qualified educators to give us this educational tool kit….The authors provide just enough information to serve as a guide to real action in linking schools and communities in vital ways. Readers who wish to further explore the literature of this field will find that the references provided will keep them busy for a long time."--The Journal of Environmental Education

"For educators and community members looking for a practical entry into place- and community-based education, this book is a long awaited answer….the finest quality of this practical book is not in finding a lockstep recipe to achieve successful schools. Successful place- and community-based models come from within and Smith and Sobel confirm that honoring distinct places in the way we teach and learn honors children, teachers, and community members."--Children, Youth and Environment

Table of Contents



1. Young Achievers Science and Mathematics Pilot School

2 Place- and Community-based Education: Definitions and Antecedents

3 Why Worry about the Local in the Era of New Child Left Behind: A Rationale for Place- and Community-based Education

4 Place- and Community-based Education in Practice: Starting with Local Knowledge and Issues

5 Place- and Community-based Education in Practice: Knowledge and Issues

6 Impact on Academic Achievement

7 Striving for More than Test Scores

8 Collaborating with Community Partners (by Delia Clark)

9 Leaders as Gardeners: Creating Space for Place- and Community-based Education

10 No School is an Island – Except on the Coast of Maine

11 Changing Schools to Embrace the Local

About the Authors

Gregory Smith is Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Counseling at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He speaks nationally and internationally about place- and community-based education and is involved with efforts in schools in the Pacific Northwest to adopt this approach to teaching and learning.

David Sobel is Director of Teacher Certification Programs in the Education Department of Antioch University New England in Keene, NH. He consults and speaks widely on developmentally appropriate teaching, environmental education, and parenting with nature.

About the Series

Sociocultural, Political, and Historical Studies in Education

This series focuses on studies of public and private institutions, the media, and academic disciplines that contribute to educating--in the broadest sense--students and the general public. The series welcomes volumes with multicultural perspectives, diverse interpretations, and a range of political points of view from conservative to critical. Books accepted for publication in this series will be written for an academic audience and, in some cases, also for use as supplementary readings in graduate and undergraduate courses.

Topics to be addressed in this series include, but are not limited to, sociocultural, political, and historical studies of

Local, state, national, and international educational systems

Elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities

Public institutions of education such as museums, libraries, and foundations

Computer systems and software as instruments of public education

The popular media as forms of public education

Content areas within the academic study of education, such as curriculum and instruction, psychology, and educational technology

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Non-Formal Education
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General