Rethinking Young People’s Lives Through Space and Place: Volume 26

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Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Prelims

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Part I: Navigating Imagined and Real Spatial Borders

Abstract

In Mémoires of a cabinotier (Memoir of a watchmaker), a 60-year history of the Genevan watch manufacture (1931), the author Paul Maerky recalls his early years apprenticing in Saint-Gervais, Geneva’s horological district, better known as La Fabrique. Located in the heart of Geneva on the right bank of the river Rhone, the Saint-Gervais district established itself as a major Swiss center of horological production spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Maerky’s autobiography is a lively and detailed account of apprenticed life in Saint-Gervais from 1871 to 1876. Drawing from this narrative source, this chapter discusses the Saint-Gervais apprenticeship system as a multisited educational phenomenon, whereby public spaces are conceptualized as an extension of the workshop or the habitual locus of horological knowledge and skill acquisition. This case study of the Saint-Gervais horological craft community in the 1870s analyzes the manner in which youthful apprentices interact with public spaces. Through the physical exploration of the district and its various educational loci, apprentices acquire spatial and relational knowledge. This chapter also discusses the metaphorical meanings assigned to places and their educational function within the context of nineteenth century watchmaking apprenticeship, during which apprentices undertake a metaphorical quest which takes them from childhood into adulthood as full-fledged members of the Genevan watchmaking community. In addition, this case study discusses the function of practical jokes as social mechanisms that regulate youth’s interaction with public spaces. As alternative educational loci, public spaces serve threefold educational functions: (1) to federate an otherwise heterogeneous working-class population around a common identity delineated by known physical and cultural boundaries; (2) to promote apprentice autonomy and foster distrust vis-à-vis outsiders; and (3) to create the setting for youth socialization through play or conflict. This chapter comments on alternative educational loci as relayed by Paul Maerky’s memoir, which include the streets, public fountains, the road to school, and eateries.

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Abstract

Coming of age in the United States as an undocumented immigrant alters traditional rites of passage such as “completing school, moving out of the parental home, establishing employment, getting married, and becoming a parent” (Gonzales, 2011, p. 604). Yet, the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 began to reconcile some aspects in the life, educational, and occupational trajectories of nearly 800,000 youths. It is in the context of moving out the parental home or relocating that this chapter explores the decisions or processes that DACA beneficiaries encounter. Considering how “illegality,” place, and family impact the individual, this chapter demonstrates how different immigration statuses, attitudes, behaviours, and structures disparately, yet unequivocally, continue to frame coming of age processes. Drawing from seven interviews with undocumented Mexican youth benefiting from DACA along the Texas–Mexico border, this chapter introduces the term mixed-status familism. Mixed-status familism provides a nuanced approach to understand the ways in which the mixed-status nature of a family, their attitudes, behaviours, structures, and the place in which they reside continue to frame newly obtained individual opportunities in general and transitions to adulthood like relocating in specific. While most literature points to the benefits that DACA has provided for individuals and a few explore how these have transferred to the family, this chapter captures how family buffers both the impact of an undocumented status and the benefits of a temporary legal protection.

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Part II: Belonging, Meaning-Making, and Representation

Abstract

The concept of childhoods is both socially constructed and unique to particular social settings. Based on an ethnographic study of five Nepali children’s homes, I argue that the localized contexts of these homes not only exist as spaces where youth negotiate their own unique statuses and futures but also where the social construction and fluidity of childhoods are most evident. By applying sociologist C. Wright Mills’ “sociological imagination,” we become best equipped to understand individual stories within these localized spaces as illustrative of what is ordinary and normalized at the local level, which in turn allows us to envision what is possible for broader society.

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Abstract

Departing from the contribution of the Social Studies of Childhood, this research aimed to understand children’s relations with school based on their economic, social, and geographical belongings. In order to understand the way children from a big city in Southern Brazil build their relations with school, 36 children between 11 and 13 years old participated. The research was developed in two public schools in two neighbourhoods which are very different in terms of family income, violence taxes, access to cultural equipment, public green spaces, public and social freedoms, among other characteristics. Both contexts have big inequalities, and one of them is a context of high social vulnerability. Through participant observations, focus group discussions, and registers in notebooks, it was intended to comprehend not just what school represents to the children but also which elements structure their childhood experiences. The listening to children’s voices revealed that school is important for both groups. For the children who attend the school in the border of the city, school represents future, learning, the possibility to be together with their friends, and also a leisure space. For the children who attend the school in the city centre, the institution is their main social space where they can be together with their friends. Children from the city center school also acknowledge that the inequality between public and private schools is a social injustice. In a country constituted by strong social inequalities, children’s knowledge contributed to comprehend how territoriality, poverty, and social exclusion are related and how they shape the relations children establish with school. This chapter aims to discuss how social inequalities create different school representations, highlighting the specificities in each context.

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This chapter examines how young people relate to and engage with their city. Framed by a sociological approach to childhood, we assert that young people are competent social actors, living a complex relationship with their urban environment, while facing paternalism. The study draws on participatory activities including focus group discussions, neighbourhood walks, city mapping and song and video creation with 54 youth aged 9–17 years from six areas of Montréal (Canada). Our findings point to young people’s mixed experiences and views of Montréal. On the one hand, the city is experienced as unwelcoming, excluding, homogenising and stressful. Among recreational facilities, mental health services and venues to hang out, there is little that meets youth’s specific needs and aspirations. They also pointed out the inequalities across neighbourhoods, pressures to fit into uniformising models, the limitations of gender roles and a lack of support from adults. On the other hand, youth are responding to and shaping their environment by seeking belonging in the city. They question the inequalities and homogenising forces, seek meaning in places and community and value relationships and diversity. We contend that moving towards child–youth friendly cities calls for better listening to youth to enhance the type of opportunities that reflect their needs and aspirations, while providing for inclusive cities that feature alternative forms of citizenship, accessibility to local places, diversity and community.

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Part III: Learning in and Through Space

Abstract

In this chapter, we draw upon data from a six-month study that took place in a progressive, multiage preschool classroom in the northeast United States. Our study focus was on the relationship between young children, gender, and curriculum. Using posthumanist concepts, we focus on how space and materials are actors who can aid in the production of gender in an early childhood classroom. Understanding place as assemblage, we draw upon political theorist Jane Bennett’s concepts of assemblage and thing power, as we map forces and actors in the preschool classroom: “loose parts” (a curated “natural” wooded, outdoor space) and “inner treetop” (the inside classroom space). Our findings show that gender emerges in different areas in preschool classrooms. We conclude with discussions of how separate and distinct possibilities and performances of gender configure into issues of equity and early childhood learning.

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This qualitative case study provides a detailed description of the ways a Kindergarten/Grade 1 teacher in a Gulf Islands school, located on Canada’s west coast, integrated place-based education in her practice with young learners. The teacher’s integration of place-based knowledge over a school year, and her incorporation of traditional knowledge linked to local Coast Salish ways of knowing, was in response to the British Columbia Ministry of Education’s mandate to include local Indigenous ways of knowing in all classrooms. This study also reveals the ways an Indigenous educator affiliated with the school district and local community members provided the teacher and students with deeper understandings of Salt Spring Island from a historical, place-based, and Indigenous knowledge perspective. Specifically, the Indigenous educator and community members shared their knowledge on the vegetation on the island and shared information about the animals that lived on or near the island. Throughout the study, the teacher drew on a “critical pedagogy of place,” which focuses on the ecological aspects of place and the tenets of critical pedagogy. This study documented the ways the teacher included local Indigenous knowledge in her practice in culturally relevant and appropriate ways – primarily through outdoor learning experiences. The children also shared their perspectives on these learning experiences. In this study, the place-based learning opportunities provided to the children enabled them to acquire rich insight on the history and ecology of their community and island.

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The early childhood education classroom space is intrinsic to developing localized youth culture. Through a four-month-long qualitative research project in a space that focused on meeting the most rudimentary child needs due to staffing and fund restrictions, young children’s creativity through the arts was stunted. In a classroom setting focused on structure and strict routine at the forefront, children’s creative expression was observed through independent action and creative twists on order, instead of through activities deliberately designed to nurture creativity and expression. Since the children at the site did not seem to regularly participate in any kind of art making, or unstructured creative expression, my focus instead became the fundamentals of creativity and how young children in the classroom demonstrated choice making and agency. The objective of this study was how to understand the space from a child-centered approach to better project how to include art making, creative education, and creative expression within early childhood education sites that do not currently employ it in their curriculum. This chapter aims to situate how young children created a culture of creative expression within the boundaries of a structured early education classroom when top-down teacher interaction was at a minimum, and open-ended, non-directive materials were provided.

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Index

Pages 155-160
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Cover of Rethinking Young People’s Lives Through Space and Place
DOI
10.1108/S1537-4661202026
Publication date
2020-06-10
Book series
Sociological Studies of Children and Youth
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78973-340-2
Book series ISSN
1537-4661