|Wise Elder Greg Smith|
|Written by Website Adminstrator Adminstrator|
|Sunday, 17 May 2009 18:02|
Greg Smith is a professor of Education at Lewis and Clark College and author of Place-Based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity. Greg also facilitate the Courage to Teach Program at Lewis & Clark College. Courage to Teach is a national project aimed at supporting the renewal of experienced teachers. Beyond the campus,he serve on the board of the Rural School and Community Trust, a national organization that has been an active sponsor of place-based educational reforms throughout the United States. He also a member of the Education Policy Project based at the University of Arizona, headed up by progressive educator and activist, Alex Molnar
Greg has agreed to support MRCSE as a Wise Elder...
I’m delighted to have a chance to participate in the Midwest Regional Collaborative for Sustainability Education. Although I am a native Oregonian who is strongly hooked to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve lived in the Midwest a couple of times and my wife grew up in St.Paul-Minneapolis. As an undergraduate, I attended Oberlin College and the University of Oregon. After working in a variety of different jobs, I decided to become an English teacher in my mid-twenties. After completing an M.A. at Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, I taught high school for nine years, most of them at a small Friends boarding school in Northern California. Convinced of the value of situating education in strong communities, I returned to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I tried to figure out ways to extend what I had learned while teaching in a small private school to the public education system. There, I had the chance to work as an educational researcher for five years. I got my first teaching job in higher education at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, where I helped coordinate the Teachers for Alaska Program. When a job opening at the Graduate School of Education and Counseling at Lewis & Clark College in the early 1990s presented me with the opportunity to return to Oregon, I applied and I have been back in my home state ever since.
My current writing and research revolve around the practice of place-and community-based education. This approach focuses on using local knowledge, phenomena, and experience as the foundation for teaching and learning. Its aim is to connect children and youth more firmly to their own communities and regions with the intention of cultivating and deepening their sense of environmental stewardship and civic engagement—dispositions I believe will be pivotal in the shaping of more sustainable cultures.
I’ve written, co-written, edited, and co-edited a number of books that explore these issues:
Greg several questions about systems thinking, leadership, and community building that are also of interest to him personally:
Gregs envisions MRCSE to as another to add to Paul Hawkin's Blessed Unrest:
I have been involved in the creation of a similar network focused on place- and community-based education for the past three years in the Pacific Northwest. The primary value of this ever-changing and ever-evolving group is that our meetings provide a setting in which people who share similar concerns are able to see that they are not alone and that the work of others like themselves is genuinely inspiring. I see this group as one more organization like the ones that Paul Hawken describes in Blessed Unrest. There does seem to be a vast global movement.
Greg offers a final personal reflection...
I’ve been practicing Buddhism for nearly 40 years. I am just beginning to understand an assertion made by a 17th-century Zen teacher that "this very place is the lotus land, this very body, the Buddha." If this very place is the lotus land, then global warming, environmental destruction, and the impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people are part of it.
That this is so is not a reason for inaction; Buddhists also vow to save all beings. I’ve found that standing in the middle of this paradox demands a relaxed and watchful attention, a useful alternative to the frenetic anguish I once felt when confronted with the challenges now facing humanity.
Learn more about Greg Smith:
Recently Greg received a $19,380 grant from the Gray Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation to train teachers in the West Linn School District on environmental issues. The Environmental Education Program seeks to encourage a strong local land ethic, sustainable communities, and stewardship of the natural environment by citizens throughout Oregon. The Fund is committed long term to institutionalizing a series of age-appropriate experiences that build a sense of place and responsibility towards Oregon and the region.
The Sustainability Education Initiative is a program of professional development coursework and activities for K-12 teachers in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. During three courses offered in 2009, Smith will prepare 50-60 teachers to incorporate sustainability issues into their classrooms and help them implement school or community projects that will enhance local natural and social environments. Participants will be eligible for small seed grants to fund start-up projects. The grant aims to increase the number of teachers implementing sustainability projects in schools, and increase student and educator awareness of local natural systems, ecologies, and social needs.
In this video, Smith visits Zenger Farm with the first cohort of teachers, and discusses the importance of teaching sustainability using place-based education.
|Last Updated on Monday, 01 June 2009 22:18|