Teaching Place, “Placing” the Learner: Understanding the Geographies of Place, pp. 6 of 8


The importance of place in geography cannot be discounted. Both the theorizations on place and the everyday issues that happen in place continue to capture the interest of scholars and laypeople alike. In this paper, I have argued for the necessity of placing the learners in order to teach place more effectively. This is particularly salient in a globalized world where the production of place implicates the “here and there” as well as “self and others”. Teaching about translocal and worldly places in Singapore like Clarke Quay and Lucky Plaza, as I have highlighted in this article, required learners to actively participate in the (re)production of places in their different capacities as consumers, as students, and as Singaporeans. In other words, it was an invitation for a reflexive engagement in society.

If we subscribe to Massey’s global sense of place, it is necessary then that we “place” the learner in order for them to better understand the geographies of place. It helps them recognize that they are active players in the production of place through the imprints of their ideas, values, and identities. Moreover, being in-place allows students to experience the social interactions and processes that make up a place, and to recognize that place is not simply a location of things nor a container of human activities. Doing so equips geography students (and/or students taking geography classes) with basic disciplinary knowledge that challenges them to think about being-in-the-world, which is what (human) geography is about.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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