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Education as a ‘space’

Ok, this image is more about stationery, but you get the picture (pun intended)

As part of my Phd in human geography, I am currently looking at how education as a space can influence young people’s experiences and outcomes. A principle part of human geography is social geography – mainly the interactions across and inside social groups, within the context of space and the  ‘spatial expression of social processes’. Of course, this includes many formal educational spaces such as schools, colleges, universities, but also informal spaces such as the home and youth clubs.

Educational geographies appear to add a certain richness to thinking about life chances. I see this as almost a deeper consideration of social policy and sociological analysis. Much can be exchanged and influenced within a space. Common examples are the use of social networks (capital) and the reproduction of inequalities, as well as the formation of different identities which are constantly being tweaked and refined. It is useful to consider how young people interact with these different spaces -between school and getting home and how they interpret other educational experiences such as in summer camps and staying with grandparents even. For me, this raises many questions when thinking about research. Do these different nuances improve their understanding of risk and responsibilities? How well does educational policy understand these different influences? How can research design effectively cover these different environments, which can also be virtual spaces? This is something I will be blogging about as I go on.

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2 Responses to Education as a ‘space’

  1. David Kipling 20th January 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Geography in education: In British Columbia, a conservative “think tank” does regular report cards on schools in the province.
    Most years, West Vancouver, where house prices start at over $1 million, is praised for its educational achievements in the top 3 of 288 publicly funded schools surveyed.

    Whereas Greenville and Kincolith, which are poverty stricken Nisga’a First Nations coastal villages reachable only by float plane, are regularly 287 or 288th. The think tank announces that these are therefore “bad schools”.

    But if you suggested there was an economic link, and urged better funding for the Nisga’a, they’d trout out that old conservative motto: “You can’t just solve a problem by throwing money at it.” Well clearly West Vancouver does just that, year after year!!!!

  2. 4dblogging 21st January 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you for commenting! Your point is supported by academics in UK, US, Canada and elsewhere who highlight the geographies of inequality. There is also research to suggest that young people are significantly affected by the perceptions of individuals and communities on their locale and whether their school is a ‘bad school’. This can impact on their own aspirations and can result in an attempt to try to resist and move away from these identities they have been given. But of course, the limited geographical mobility in more deprived areas, mean many end up staying in their local area with apparent dead end prospects. Sadly, they have been labelled before they have even begun to think about their futures.

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