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"Fleeting pockets of anarchy" Streetwork. The exploding school. | Catherine Burke - Academia.edu
"Colin Ward (1924–2010) was an anarchist and educator who, together with Anthony Fyson, was employed as education officer for the Town and Country Planning Association in the UK during the 1970s. He is best known for his two books about childhood, The Child in the City (1978) and The Child in the Country (1988). The book he co-authored with Fyson, Streetwork. The Exploding School (1973), is discussed in this article as illustrating in practical and theoretical terms Ward’s appreciation of the school as a potential site for extraordinary radical change in relations between pupils and teachers and schools and their localities. The article explores the book alongside the Bulletin of Environmental Education, which Ward edited throughout the 1970s. It argues that the literary and visual images employed in the book and the bulletins contributed to the powerful positive representation of the school as a site of potential radical social change. Finally, it suggests that “fleeting pockets of anarchy” continue to exist in the lives of children through social networking and virtual environments that continue to offer pedagogical possibilities for the imaginative pedagogue."



"Paul Goodman’s work had particular relevance to the development of ideas expressed in Streetwork. Through his fiction, Goodman developed the idea of the “exploding school” which realised the city as an educator. Playing with the notion of the school trip as traditionally envisaged, he created an image of city streets as host to a multitude of small peripatetic groups of young scholars and their adult shepherds. This image was powerfully expressed in Goodman’s 1942 novel, TheGrand Piano; or, The Almanac of Alienation.

Ward quotes extensively from this novel in Streetwork because the imagery and vocabulary so clearly articulate a view of the city and the school that is playfully subversive yet imaginable. In a dialogue between a street urchin and a professor, Goodman has the elder explain:
this city is the only one you’ll ever have and you’ve got to make the best of it. On the other hand, if you want to make the best of it, you’ve got to be able to criticize it and change it and circumvent it . . . Instead of bringing imitation bits of the city into a school building, let’s go at our own pace and get out among the real things. What I envisage is gangs of half a dozen starting at nine or ten years old, roving the Empire City (NY) with a shepherd empowered to protect them, and accumulating experiences tempered to their powers . . . In order to acquire and preserve a habit of freedom, a kid must learn to circumvent it and sabotage it at any needful point as occasion arises . . . if you persist in honest service, you will soon be engaging in sabotage.

Inspired by such envisaged possibilities, Ward came to his own view of anarchism, childhood and education. Sabotage was a function of the transformational nature of education when inculcated by the essential elements of critical pedagogy. In this sense, anarchism was not some future utopian state arrived at through a once-and-for-all, transformative act of revolution; it was rather a present-tense thing, always-already “there” as a thread of social life, subversive by its very nature – one of inhabiting pockets of resistance, questioning, obstructing; its existence traceable through attentive analysis of its myriad ways and forms.

Colin Ward was a classic autodidact who sought connections between fields of knowledge around which academic fences are too often constructed. At the heart of his many enthusiasms was an interest in the meaning and making of space and place, as sites for creativity and learning."



"Fleeting pockets of anarchy and spaces of educational opportunity

The historian of childhood John Gillis has borrowed the notion of the “islanding of children” from Helgar and Hartmut Zeiher as a metaphor to describe how contemporary children relate, or do not relate, to the urban environments that they experience in growing up. Gillis quotes the geographer David Harvey, who has noted that children could even be seen to inhabit islands within islands, while “the internal spatial ordering of the island strictly regulates and controls the possibility of social change and history”. This could so easily be describing the modern school. According to Gillis, “archipelagoes of children provide a reassuring image of stasis for mainlands of adults anxious about change”.

Since the publication of Streetwork, the islanding of childhood has increased, not diminished. Children move – or, more accurately, are moved – from place to place, travelling for the most part sealed within cars. This prevents them encountering the relationships between time and space that Ward believed essential for them to be able to embark on the creation of those fleeting pockets of anarchy that were educational, at least in the urban environment. Meanwhile, the idea of environmental education has lost the urban edge realised fleetingly by Ward and Fyson during the1970s. Environmental education has become closely associated with nature and the values associated with natural elements and forces

If the curriculum of the school has become an island, we might in a sense begin to see the laptop or iPad as the latest islanding, or at least fragmenting, device. Ward and Fyson understood the importance of marginal in-between spaces in social life,where they believed creative flourishing was more likely to occur than in the sanctioned institution central spaces reflecting and representing state authority. This was, they thought, inevitable and linked to play, part of what it was to be a child. The teacher’s job was to manage that flourishing as well as possible, by responding to the opportunities continually offered in the marginal spaces between subjects in the curriculum and between school and village, city or town. They believed that such spaces offered educational opportunities that, if enabled to flourish through the suggested pedagogy of Streetwork and the implications of the exploding school, might enrich lives and environments across the generations. It was in the overlooked or apparently uninteresting spaces of the urban environment that teachers, with encouragement, might find a rich curriculum. Today, we might observe such “fleeting pockets of anarchy” in the in-between spaces of social media, which offer as yet unimagined opportunities and challenges for educational planners to expand the parameters of school and continue to define environmental education as radical social and urban practice."
colinward  cityasclassroom  anarchism  tonyfyson  streetwork  2014  catherineburke  education  unschooling  deschooling  1970s  society  theexplodingschool  children  socialnetworking  pedagogy  johngillis  urban  urbanism  islanding  parenting  experience  agesegregation  safety  anarchy  sabotage  subversion  autodidacts  autodidacticism  criticalpedagogy  childhood  learning  paulgoodman  freedom  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cities  resistance  questioning  obstructing  obstruction  revolution  lewismumford  ivanillich  paulofreire  peterkropotkin  patrickgeddes  autodidactism  living  seeing  nationalism  separatism  johnholt  youth  adolescence  everyday  observation  participatory  enironmentaleducation  experientiallearning  place  schools  community  communities  context  bobbray  discovery  discoverylearning  hamescallaghan  blackpapers  teaching  kenjones  radicalism  conformity  control  restrictions  law  legal  culture  government  policy  spontaneity  planning  situationist  cocreation  place-basededucation  place-basedlearning  place-based  place-basedpedagogy 
july 2014 by robertogreco

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