14 SES 01 A, Place based Education: the Role of Teachers and Communities
This paper reports on findings from the first year of a 3 year international comparative research study that explores the idea of redefining education for a social solidarity urban economy across 4 cities: Rio de Janeiro, New York, Berlin and Barcelona. Across the globe, there is increasing evidence that cities are looking for new ways to address the risks and instabilities of a rapidly changing world and the associated issues of inequality and urban poverty. This has been evidenced by the growth in popularity of the social and solidarity urban economy (EESC, 2017; UNRISD, 2016; Vickers et al, 2017), which, rather than following individualistic, market driven approaches serving private concerns, represents the belief that a change in relationships based on solidarity and co-operation is a fundamental component in developing sustainable and inclusive economic activities and policies in our cities.
So far, however, there has been little focus on how innovative approaches to education could build stronger relationships with between schools and urban communities and help to lay the foundations for more inclusive social solidarity economies. This paper, therefore, will explore place conscious education initiatives in four different cities around the world (Barcelona, Berlin, New York and Rio de Janeiro), which have been identified based on evidence of their attempts to develop, in different ways, an enabling and supportive urban context of cross-sector partnerships and collaboration that can help to build a successful social solidarity economy (Solidarity NYC, 2013; Vickers et al, 2017).
The research looks for examples of policy and practice in education that actively encourage engagement with the locality through various relational mechanisms and infrastructures (such as governance, curriculum and pedagogy), in order to redefine traditional relationships of knowledge and power between professionals and communities. The study considers how more relational approaches to policy, governance, curriculum and pedagogy impact on relationships, not only between institutions and their stakeholders but can also positively impact on democracy and social justice in urban places.
In illuminating how approaches to education can help to build stronger relationships with urban communities, this paper is focused less on inter-agency interventions but rather looks to broaden the education agenda by exploring more radical forms of engagement between institutions and communities that seek to enhance a whole range of indicators by responding to the lived realities of people in communities in which schools are located, explicitly setting out to build a sense of relatedness and human collectivity (Amin, 2006) through education policy and practices. These forms of engagement are broadly categorized here as those which aim to develop ‘relational citizens’ through a range of means such as governance, pedagogy and curriculum.
In order to answer the research questions, the project will use a qualitative comparative case study approach. Research will examine the comparative way in which education institutions in up to four different cities around the world engage with their locality through various relational mechanisms and infrastructures (such as governance, curriculum and pedagogy). The cities (Barcelona, Berlin, New York and Rio de Janeiro) have been identified based on evidence of their attempts to develop, in different ways, an enabling and supportive urban context of cross-sector partnerships and collaboration that can help to build a successful social solidarity economy (Vickers et al, 2017; Solidarity NYC, 2013). The paper will focus in particular on findings from two of the research questions: • What are the discourses of public services/policy/schooling that support a social-solidarity approach to education? • What are the institutional foundations that support a social-solidarity approach to education? During year one, documentary and policy analysis will be used to help identify appropriate urban case studies and to build professional relationships. Each city case study will focus on a different area of interest (governance, pedagogy, curriculum or policy). Individual interviews will be held with 2 key individuals responsible for developing and overseeing the education initiatives in each city (e.g. policy makers, local government officials, educationalists) and observations will be undertaken of the wider project in action. The observations will help gain an insight into diverse participant experiences so as to better understand the lived realities of those engaged in the project. The interviews and observations will set out to explore how participants are conceptualising and/or operationalising the links between a social solidarity urban economy and the development of education policy/ governance/curriculum or pedagogy and provide the case studies for the focus groups, interviews and observations in years two and three. Theoretically this project adopts a relational perspective. Research has found that theories of the relational are helpful in supporting the development of policies and institutional structures that promote social justice and solidarity (Burkitt, 2016; Cordelli, 2015; Donati and Archer, 2015). Relational theory focuses on how relationships can be constituted to generate the ‘relational goods’ (interpersonal trust, emotional support, care and social influence) (Cordelli, 2015) that are required if there is to be a fundamental shift to a more reciprocal relationship between the state, civil society and citizens (Mulgan, 2012).
Engagement relationships between urban education institutions and the communities in which they are situated have long been held to offer the potential to have a positive effect on a wide range of socio economic indicators. There is a large body of research, informed by a social-justice agenda, which focuses on inter-agency interventions via area-based initiatives in areas of socio-economic disadvantage (Auerbach, 2009; Dryfoos, 2005; Dyson and Raffo, 2007; Kerr et al, 2014). However, although such research undoubtedly seeks to develop a collective response to inequality and urban poverty, the focus tends to be on the relationships between groups of professionals, who make collaborative decisions about what is best on behalf of the school and its community. In considering how approaches to education can help to build stronger relationships with urban communities, this study is focused less on inter-agency interventions but rather looks to broaden the education agenda by exploring more radical forms of engagement between institutions and communities that seek to enhance a whole range of indicators by responding to the lived realities of people in communities in which schools are located, explicitly setting out to build a sense of relatedness and human collectivity (Amin, 2006) through education policy and practices. This paper thus aims to surface approaches to education that are grounded in notions of social solidarity, of policy-school, interschool and school-stakeholder relationships that are based on ‘doing with’, not ‘doing to’, the fundamental ethos of a relational city.
Amin, A. (2006), The good city. Urban Studies, 43 (5–6) (2006), pp. 1009-1023 Auerbach, S. (2009) Walking the Walk: Portraits in Leadership for Family Engagement in Urban Schools. The School Community Journal 19(1), 9-31. Burkitt I (2016) Relational agency: Relational sociology, agency and interaction. European Journal of Social Theory. 19(3): 322-339. Cordelli, C. (2015), Justice as Fairness and Relational Resources. J Polit Philos, 23: 86–110. Donati P. and Archer M.S. (2015) The Relational Subject, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Dryfoos, J. (2005) Full-Service Community Schools: A Strategy-Not a Program. New Directions for Youth Development 107, 7-14. Dyson, A., & Raffo, C. (2007). Education and disadvantage: The role of community- oriented schools. Oxford Review of Education, 33(3), 297-314. EESC (2017) Recent Evolutions of the Social Economy in the European Union. Brussels: EESC Kerr, K., Dyson, A. and Raffo, C. (2014). Education, Disadvantage and Place: Making the Local Matter. Bristol: Policy Press. Mulgan, G. (2012) ‘Government with the people: the outlines of the relational state’, in Cooke, G. and Muir, R. (eds.) The Relational State. How recognising the importance of human relationships could revolutionise the role of the state, London: ippr Solidarity NYC (2013), Growing a Resilient City UNRISD (2016), Policy Innovations Transformative Change for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Geneva: UNRISD. Vickers, I., Westall, A., Spear, R., Brennan, G., Syrett, S. (2017) Cities, the social economy and inclusive growth: a practice review.
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