Tag Archives: Children’s geographies

Avenues (The World School): the road to a global geography of education?

by Fiona Ferbrache

learningAs 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?

60-world2  Avenues: The World School

60-world2  Education: Move Over Dalton. The Economist (online). 01 September 2012

books_icon  Collins D and Coleman T (2008) Social geographies of education: looking within, and beyond, school boundaries Geography Compass 2 281–99

books_icon  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

60-world2  World class: a superschool for the global age. The Telegraph (online). 04 February 2013

RGS-IBG New Content Alert: Early View Articles (16th June 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Visualising postcode data for urban analysis and planning: the Amsterdam City Monitor
Karin Pfeffer, Marinus C Deurloo and Els M Veldhuizen
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01096.x

Changing countries, changing climates: achieving thermal comfort through adaptation in everyday activities
Sara Fuller and Harriet Bulkeley
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01105.x

Rethinking community and public space from the margins: a study of community libraries in Bangalore’s slums
Ajit K Pyati and Ahmad M Kamal
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01100.x

Practising workplace geographies: embodied labour as method in human geography
Chris McMorran
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01101.x

Original Articles

Muslim geographies, violence and the antinomies of community in eastern Sri Lanka
Shahul Hasbullah and Benedikt Korf
Article first published online: 11 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00470.x

Characterising urban sprawl on a local scale with accessibility measures
Jungyul Sohn, Songhyun Choi, Rebecca Lewis and Gerrit Knaap
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00468.x

The geodemographics of access and participation in Geography
Alex D Singleton
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00467.x

Original Articles

Towards geographies of ‘alternative’ education: a case study of UK home schooling families
Peter Kraftl
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00536.x

Boundary Crossings

Geographies of environmental restoration: a human geography critique of restored nature
Laura Smith
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00537.x

A policymaker’s puzzle, or how to cross the boundary from agent-based model to land-use policymaking?
Nick Green
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00532.x

The geographies of schools

By Rosa Mas Giralt

BBC2 is currently showing a number of documentaries and dramas under the banner of School Season. The programmes focus on the current education system in the UK and explore issues around schools, parents, teachers and pupils. So far, there have been very interesting contributions such as John Humphry’s documentary Unequal Opportunities examining the reasons why there continues to be great differences between the educational attainment of advantaged and disadvantaged pupils; although completely engaging and illuminating, the programme exposed once more that, without adequate resources and investment, improving the educational opportunities of children from disadvantaged backgrounds is very difficult to achieve. Another absorbing programme was the drama Excluded, which focused on an inner-city school and a pupil who faced exclusion for his disruptive behaviour, showing the complexity of issues that may affect a young person’s life and the difficult task of those in the teaching profession who need to make decisions which can be life-changing for pupils. The season continues and most of the programmes can be watched on the BBC website (for a limited number of days) or they can be downloaded from the BBC iPlayer.

The sub-discipline of children’s geographies has provided influential research aimed at deepening our understanding of the lives, experiences, identities and spaces/places of young people and has foregrounded their capabilities as social actors on their own right. A recent contribution to this scholarship is an article by Barker et al. (2010) in the current issue of Area. This paper explores a new internal space created in some schools in which pupils, who have been temporarily excluded (fix-term exclusions), can be confined, the so called “Seclusion Units”. Using a Foucauldian approach, the authors map these spaces, explore their surveillance and power structures and the possibilities for resistance which pupils have within them. Importantly, the authors find commonalities between the spatial practices of these units and those of other penal spaces such as prisons; this leads them to issue a call for a “moral debate about the desirability of these contemporary educational practices” (2010: 385), a debate which seems crucial.

 Visit the BBC’s School Season website to discover more about the programmes

 Read John Barker et al. (2010) “Pupils or prisoners? Institutional geographies and internal exclusion in UK secondary schools”. Area. 42(3): 378-386

Incredible journeys

By Rosa Mas Giralt

This week Channel 4 (More4) broadcast a documentary entitled Which way home; directed by Rebecca Cammisa, it followed the journeys of several Latin American unaccompanied children as they travelled through Mexico on top of freight trains with the hope of reaching the US. Different dreams fuelled their courage, some wanted to join their parent/s already living across the border, others hoped to be able to reinvent themselves and earn dollars to help the relatives they had left behind. As the producers of the film explain: “These are stories of hope and courage, disappointment and sorrow. They are the ones you never hear about – the invisible ones.” – See http://whichwayhome.net/

In a recent article for Geography Compass, Tracy Skelton (2009) provides an overview of the important contribution that geographers play in helping to understand children’s experiences, identities and practices. One area of growing research in this important sub-discipline is children’s mobilities, a “focus (…) which allows the establishment of a challenge to the perception of children as victims by showing the considerable amount of agency children show to be able to gain mobility, negotiate ‘street’ spaces and cope with the disruptions of migration” (Skelton, 2009:1442-1443). Despite the undeniable dangers that the protagonists of the documentary were going through during the migration journeys they had undertaken; their will and courage were testimonies of children’s ability to undertake independent incredible journeys.

Watch Which way Home in 4oD, Channel 4 programmes on demand

Read Tracey Skelton (2009) “Children’s geographies/Geographies of children: play, work, mobilities and migration”. Geography Compass. 3(4): 1430-1448