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Localism as a Guiding Framework for Schools

Originally appears in the Summer 2010 issue

My mother tells the story of life in her idyllic early childhood.  They lived on a peach farm and her family life was filled with local pursuits; picking fruit, tending garden and selling produce at the local farmers market.  On warm summer evenings, her grandmother and her cousins would come from the next farm over to play in their hayloft.  Evening hymn sings, family picnics and community events were all part of my mother’s “local” life.

Today, my family’s life is radically different than that of my mother.  Each morning our family separates.  I commute to an office while my children travel to school.  We return in the evening with bags of food purchased at the local supermarket.   In the evening we sit down to television and watch the lives of others, funnier, more interesting and more glamorous than ourselves.  Our lives are framed by the modern values of mobility, consumption, entertainment and choice.

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Sheila Giesbrecht is an educator who is interested in place-based methodologies, urban issues and the educational experiences of student in low-socioeconomic contexts.  Sheila currently serves as a government consultant with a focus on the academic success of students in low income environments.  She can be reached at