Rooted in Place: The Power of Learning Spaces that Welcome the Local Context


Dr. Julie Z Cramer, Wayfind Education

Research and best practice reveal when physical and educational design are aligned, space can serve as an essential tool in creating a successful learning environment and improving student outcomes.  Well-aligned learning spaces structurally support innovative pedagogies. But, as importantly, they can also foster a sense of belonging. By grounding spatial design in the context of culture, community, and place,   physical learning spaces invite students to bring their full self, connect schooling to lived experience, and grow their identity as a valued learner in an academic environment.

The learning objectives of the session:

  • Using the lens of neuroscience and place attachment theory, explore the importance of environment and place in the healthy development of a child.
  • Deepen our understanding of learning and teaching approaches that leverage the local setting:  culturally responsive teaching, nature-based learning, and place-based education.
  • Consider ways in which the physical design of space can strengthen the connection to a student’s sense of identity, community culture, and relationship to the land.
  • Take a photo field  trip to Hawai’i and learn from their ‘āina-based educational approach and reflect upon our own connection to space and place.