The astonishing mobility of modern Americans and the homogenizing tendencies of our economy and society have left us detached from an authentic connection to place and knowledge of the regions we occupy. This detachment not only prevents us from protecting the ecosystems we inhabit but frustrates our innate craving to feel rooted.The seventeen writers who contribute to ""Teaching About Place"" - all of them distinguished environmental educators - reflect on the challenges of teaching students about place and their connection to it. In some cases, this effort involves exploring a specific bioregion, its nature, history, and culture, and the impact of human presence. In others, teaching involves more conceptual activities, such as examining the perceptions that connect us to a place or comparing feminist and bioregionalist notions of home. Sometimes, teaching involves a range of interdisciplinary activities; other times, students engage in direct observation of a neglected or unappreciated setting in order to discover the factors that foster the ecological, emotional, and economic health of a place.The settings discussed in these essays are remarkably diverse: the Hudson River Valley; the Los Angeles Basin; the Green Mountains of Vermont; the Salt Lake Valley; the South Carolina piedmont; a coastal Maine salt marsh; the Nebraska prairie; a degraded creek in Idaho; Houston's heavily industrialized landscape; eastern Washington State; the Yellowstone ecosystem; and Dinosaur National Monument, which straddles the Utah-Colorado border. In each case, the author found ways to engage students - even the nontraditional or resistant - and to produce meaningful insights into the role of humans in the communities of life that share our world.""Teaching About Place"" is an important record of experiments in the growing practice of place-based pedagogy, examining both the possibilities and the limitations of this approach. It is also fascinating reading for anyone curious about the natural world around us and the ways humans understand, use, and sometimes abuse the environments that we inhabit.
Laird Christensen is associate professor of English and Environmental Studies at Green Mountain College, where he also directs the environmental studies graduate program. He has published many poems and numerous essays on environmental subjects. Hal Crimmel is associate professor of English at Weber State University. He is the author of Dinosaur: Four Seasons on the Green and Yampa Rivers, editor of Teaching in the Field: Working with Students in the Outdoor Classroom, and has published numerous essays on wilderness and outdoor-related topics.