The 10-day Place-Based Education Workshop kicked off at the Damphu Higher Secondary School on Saturday, January 11. Twenty-four teachers are in attendance and do represent each and every dzongkhag in Bhutan. The Damphu Higher Secondary School could not be a more perfect location for the program (stay tuned for photos of the campus). Situated on a forested hill with a small spring, an orange orchard (in season & delicious!), and several gardens on campus, the school grounds are ripe with opportunities for modeling place-based learning. During the first two days of the workshop teachers were out on the campus finding special spots, making sound maps, conducting science research projects, and learning more about place-based education. We are sharing the school grounds with about 200 teenage scouts from Bhutan who are attending a jamboree there, who are engaged in building tents, learning knots, cooking over campfires, amongst other activities. The venue is perfect (with only a bit of rain on the first day), and we look forward to completing the rest of the program here.

Reconnecting with teachers and graduate students that I have worked with in the past is one of the highlights thus far of this visit to Bhutan. They are making slow and steady changes in their schools to implement more place-based lessons in their classes and take their students into the community and outside of the classrooms. Pictured below (left to right) – Jigme Tshering, Prem Prasad Timsina, Jigme Norbu, Tshering Dolma, and Zomba Lhamo.
Jigme and Prem were in the first class of Bhutanese graduate students at Teton Science Schools in 2008-2009. Prem is currently teaching high school chemistry in eastern Bhutan. Jigme is a high school assistant principal. Both are working with the ministry of education to re-write the science curriculum, and they are actively infusing place-based principles as well as the Science Circle.

Tshering Dolma attended the January 2010 teacher training from the Chendebji Community Primary School in central Bhutan, where she still teaches at what she calls now a “place-based school”. Tshering also attended the January 2013 place-based education program in Paro with Zomba Lhamo from Woochu Lower Secondary School in Paro. Both teachers are leaders in place-based learning in their own schools and seeing more motivated and engaged students because of it.