The need for place-based education in South African schools: the case of Greenfields Primary

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    The discourses of accountability and global economic competitiveness have impacted negatively on the quality of education in schools worldwide. Focused attention on the social and ecological places that people inhabit has been overshadowed by education’s support for individualistic and nationalistic competition in the global economy. South African schools are not exempt from this. Despite these dominant realities, we argue that place-based education (PBE) is a transformative educational approach for counteracting this tendency. Moreover, we contend that PBE is critical to the field of environmental education – not only to encourage environmental conservation ethic among learners, but also to make them aware of the deeper social, ecological and political forces that are embedded in places. Such consciousness can only be achieved, however, if teachers are aware of their learners’ sense of place. In this article, we discuss the case of Greenfields Primary, a school situated in an eco-village outside Stellenbosch, South Africa. Twelve learners’ sense of place was investigated. An attempt was also made to determine what two Social Sciences teachers’ understanding of the concept ‘place’ was, the extent to which they practised ‘a pedagogy of place’, and the influence that the eco-village had on their teaching approach.