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What Can Geographers Learn from Community-controlled Educative Spaces?

Authors: Alice Huff*, UCLA
Topics: Social Geography
Keywords: schools, critical geographies of education, community organizing
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Schools and school systems have often served as mechanisms for reinforcing violent social and spatial orders. As such, black and brown communities in particular have often been excluded from decisions about how schools operate in and on neighborhoods. Given that many communities have not had control over schools, critical geographers of education must be better attuned to how and where education takes place outside of formal school settings. As with any form of education, however, community-based education has political implications that cannot be determined apart from the contexts in which it is enacted. Extra-school education efforts operate on a wide range of sometimes contradictory values. While they may serve important social and political purposes not recognized by academics and/or those involved in directly confronting violent schooling arrangements, they may also potentially undermine transformative change. In this session, I hope to open space for discussing how geographers can work in partnership with community members to better understand the multiple purposes education outside of schools can serve, and to explore tensions between collective action aimed at altering formal schooling systems and those aimed at creating educational spaces outside of formal systems. As a starting point, I will draw from work with New Orleans neighborhood groups to discuss educative spaces produced through collective action aimed at altering schooling arrangements.

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