Hi, I’m Claudia. I am a university-based scholar and teacher, and lucky enough to live both on Salt Spring Island and in Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada). I have written, and continue to write, for academic books and journals, but this blog allows me to write more freely and accessibly, and to explore new ideas, mostly inspired by life on Salt Spring.
The tagline for this blog is “essays in place-based education” and I want to explain both why I chose “essays” as the descriptor for the blog entries and what I mean by “place-based education.”
Writer Sarah Bakewell has suggested that Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, the sixteenth-century French humanist who coined the term “essay” for personal writing, could be considered the original blogger (1). I don’t like the term “entry” for a blog—it sounds too mechanical—so I want to go back to what made Montaigne’s essays so original: they were personal reflections on phenomena encountered in everyday life that were made public rather than kept private in a diary. My “essays” (the French essai means trial or attempt) are shorter than Montaigne’s but maintain the personal and experimental spirit.
Now more than ten years ago, I wrote a chapter about “place-based education,” that is, education that uses its local context as an important part of the curriculum. In that chapter, I questioned the nostalgic tendencies in some versions of place-based education and argued for a more critical perspective, and an approach to place-based education that understands “there is no ‘hereness’ that is uncontaminated by ‘thereness’” (2). Not too long after that, my partner and I bought a small house on Salt Spring Island and we became “local” in a new place which, in its own ways, is influenced and shaped by things that are not local.
The short essays on this blog recognize that all of us are all local somewhere, and sometimes in more than one place. At the same time, we are never just local, because many things in our lives inevitably come from elsewhere—from the healthy and unhealthy elements our bodies absorb to the borrowed words in the languages we speak. We are locallish.
Unless stated otherwise, photos on this blog are by me and provided under Attribution-NonCommercial Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC).
(1) Sarah Bakewell, “What Bloggers Owe Montaigne,” the Paris Review, November 12, 2010, https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2010/11/12/what-bloggers-owe-montaigne/
(2) Claudia Ruitenberg, “Deconstructing the Experience of the Local: Toward a Radical Pedagogy of Place,” in Philosophy of Education 2005, ed. Kenneth R. Howe (Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society), pp. 212–220.