by Fiona Ferbrache
As I walk by my former primary school on a Tuesday early morning, the current pupils must be gathered in assembly for I can hear the School hymn. Schooled in Guernsey, I studied the Bailiwick of Guernsey’s Curriculum and my education was embedded, to a large extent, in local Island (one might say national) context.
‘National’ or ‘state’ level schools tend to be considered as mainstream organisations for learning (Kraftl 2012). They teach about the world beyond their state borders, but rarely embed themselves internationally. This point is made by the team behind Avenues: an alternative educational establishment based in New York.
Avenues, subtitled ‘The World School’, opened its first campus in September 2012. It is envisaged that this international school will expand to include more than 20 campuses around the globe, in places such as Singapore, London, Paris, Mumbai and São Paulo. When this integrated global learning community is established, students will be able to take advantage of a singular leaning system to spend short periods at different campuses around the world. This physical mobility is part of the essential criteria through which Avenues aims to “prepare students for global life”.
With its global philosophy, perhaps Avenues could be conceived as a form of education beyond the mainstream (this is not an unusual perspective in current media articles on the school). If so, then it contributes to what Kraftl (2012:1) calls “geographies of ‘alternative’ education”. While Kraftl’s focus remains on UK-based homeschooling, and draws upon themes of emotion and affect, and family and home, his article clearly demonstrates some of the political, social and academic values associated with alternative sites for learning.
Could we see Avenues and its potential global networks analysed in geographies of education at some point in the future?
Education: Move Over Dalton. The Economist (online). 01 September 2012
Collins D and Coleman T (2008) Social geographies of education: looking within, and beyond, school boundaries Geography Compass 2 281–99
Kraftl, P. (2012) Towards geographies of ‘alternative’ education: a case study of UK home schooling families. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00536.x
World class: a superschool for the global age. The Telegraph (online). 04 February 2013