I'm posting this late, but I wanted to make sure that I answered the question. I'd like to blog about the South Africa lessons I learned too, but it has been a while since I had access to a computer, so I wanted to talk about the question of what difference does place-based education make for our students (Tamara's question)?
There are tons of scholarly articles on place-based education, and if you want to read more, I included a link, but on a gut level, do I think that place-based education makes a difference? Yes. From an indigenous point of view, students must know their "mo'o" before they truly know themselves. They need to understand their moʻokūauhau (their geneology), their mo'olelo (the stories of their 'ohana). In the same way, they also need to know the mo'olelo of their one hānau (the sands of their birth). They should know the name of their mountain, the name of their wind, the name of their rain, the name of their wai and their kai. Why? If you don't know who you are and where you are from, how can you know what your kuleana is? Place-based education creates whole learners.
Place-based learning also brings learning outside of the institution of school and into the realm of the classroom without walls. It encourages the participation of all teachers in the education of na pua. The land, the kupuna, the mo'olelo of a place become co-teachers. It expands the idea of the purpose of education.
ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokāhi All knowledge is not taught in the same school. (One can learn from many sources)
Inspired? Look for sources outside your classrooms and go! Have a wonderful school year.