The term “urban jungle” has been used for some time to describe the environment created by the growth and development of our cities, the activities and infrastructures people produce. In the jungle, many youngsters have become dislocated from the environment in which they live, they do not have the skills to properly navigate the jungle or follow the laws of the jungle. I think this is because of the narrow curriculum (dominated by literacy, numeracy …….) delivered in our schools. Youngsters learn from the laws of the street, education has become external/marginal to their world. The Spatial Citizenship Project tries to redress this situation.
Young people need to be helped (through education) to understand, appreciate and relate more closely to the places they live in. We defined this in a recent article as ‘spatial citizenship’, whereby place, space, ownership and responsibility are interconnected. In the article we suggest that education needs to involve much more than classroom abstraction from the real world, it should be connected closely to learning in and about our world. So, all youngsters need a good “geographical” education to provide them with a real sense of place (including their place) in their community.
The availability of location-based technologies and open access to geoinformation affords an excellent opportunity to effectively integrate the real world with geo-media communicated through social networks into school education. It would also help students actively participate in the world they navigate. Yet such geotechnologies are used in less than 1% of schools. The paper and further research goes on to introduce some of the key concepts through which spatial citizenship could be addressed as a core area in the curriculum.
Living, surviving and competing in the jungle requires a deep understanding of the jungle! I suggest the riots that took place in London in 2011 (see http://www.theguardian.com/uk/london-riots) were symptomatic of the marginalisation of important curriculum areas in teacher training and in schools, like geographical education. The delivery of Geography lessons by non-specialists, unaware of the importance of the meanings we attach to the places we inhabit and the relationships with the needs of citizens componds the issue. This needs to be addressed.
We need a broad. balanced education not one based almost entirely on literacy, numeracy, technology, SATs and PISA comparisons!! Forthcoming curriculum reforms will be an opportunity to make a difference….. but will the decision makers realise it?
Read more about spatial citizenship at: http://bit.ly/isx3EG