- Oct 2015
How does Nespor suggest we do this? How does a place with rules, regulations and routines resemble a public space? And how does this change the roles of the students?
As Ma and Munter described, built environments have particular functions and readings encoded in their design, and participants who use the space can either buy into these readings or create their own.
It seems that Nespor's idea of production of space involves an authority figure (tour guide, teacher, civic leader) facilitating this interpretation for a learner. As we see below, the space of the art museum (and it's downtown context), and the space of the history museum are produced through the "official interpretation" of and codes of behavior enforced by museum staff.
There is a lot going on in these two sentences. Public spaced is produced through activity (like M&M) but here it is produced for students by teachers (contrasting M&M where space was produced by the primary users). So this brings up ideas of guided participation for me "occasions for introducing them to and framing their participation in"
Post read edit: I still would comment as I did, but with the hindsight afforded by the full read I can see "framing participation in" leads more to limitation in participation than guided participation or in other words, the authors argue that field trips, and field trip spaces "guide" students to "participate" in only particular ways.
Because unlike the skating park, there is a clear teaching goal employed at these places, and a clear teaching goal adopted by whomever takes the kids there. These are "public" spaces in that one can freely enter them, but the interpretations and meanings and connections one can form inside it are decidedly "private." At each step - from the layout to behavioral models shown to the kids - there is a careful curation supporting some kind of message. This is contrasted by what we saw in the skatepark, where, although "rules" and such existed, they only emerged out of the participation of people in the space. In that sense, the very definition of what it meant to be a skater in the skatepark was constantly being questioned. Not so much in the museum.
But again this is still very structured in that the field trip location is determined by the school and where the child can explore in that space is restrained to where the supervision will be.
But they don't, because that isn't the point! To what I mentioned above, those kids' parents do the exact same thing. But somewhere along the line the definition on being an educated person, a knowledgeable participant in the public sphere, included "going to museums." Actually engaging with the art, with the public, with one another, takes a distant backseat to the pretense that one is cultured.
There's an element of intentionality in design that was mostly absent when we discussed the skateparks. It seems that here the public spaces are being constructed according to some individuals' design, regardless of how public interaction has evolved in that space. It is not designed for interactions and meaning to emerge, but rather, designed in such a way that the experiences and relationships people will have in it are already predetermined.
Which is insane, right? I can't think of few places that are technically public but are so disjoint from public life than the ones cited. Our schooling and the field trips we take legitimize those places as "public spheres," but the public at the Met, for instance, would give you a pretty distorted view of the public of New York City. The 4th street basketball court, for instance, would give you a very different one. But we do field trips to one and not the other. I think this goes to the heart of what Jasmine and Sarah were discussing regarding the power institutions, like schools, have in creating "official narratives of regional or group identity."
This may be a stretch, but it made me think of the distinction we discussed around learning and teaching curriculums. It seems to me that the distinction that is being drawn is between community spaces that allow a child to enter it and construct meaning through their interaction with others and adults (a learning curriculum), versus places that are specifically built with a purpose in mind, "formally organized and timetabled," not really affording opportunities for individual discovery and exploration (a teaching curriculum)
I don't know exactly where I sit with this article. On the one hand I appreciate this sentiment of field trips as a having potential to open new worlds or spaces to children and allow them to begin to see themselves in it. But on the other hand, they are only allowed to explore that world in controlled ways, thus only supporting identity creation that matches the space developers image of what students should do/be in the space and that feels both constrained in the immediate interaction and potentially politically/socially limiting for them down the road when they might have a chance to be in the space as adults or teenagers.
Colin and Raquel have both pointed this out already, but I think this line is worth adding to the conversation. The idea of transforming kids so they become "elements of the new aesthetic landscape". I want to make a direct (and maybe uncomfortable) reference here to schools. I think in a very similar way, schools work to mold students so they might become "elements of the school aesthetic". This not only edits some students out who they can't get to conform, but takes agency away from all students in deciding how school might best work for them.
I wonder how redefining schools are public places, open to the community after school hours with things to do, as a meeting place, etc., would also work within this conception. Shouldn't schools start by allowing their physical boundaries to transcend just the limits of schooling, but become community spaces? Isn't that the idea of a "community school model?"
This is an important key point. We must consider the roles schools play in developing constructions of public spaces by giving participatory roles when designing and performing field trips. To that end, I think this will also make connections to school tasks more salient.
This school sponsored activity institutionally created a sense of a boundary around a public space for students. It influenced them in seeing any sort of opportunity for their own learning or play there, and therefore ceased to be a public space for them.
Why do we find the need to generalize reaction and appreciation of art? How does that play into the construction of public spaces?
Important to highlight the term "transforming people." In other words, transforming the people who engage in that space, displacing others.
This directly influences how students engage with and help create public spaces.
It seems this is disenfranchising specific students from being a part and co-producing public space.
Schools are the institutional medium where public spaces are dialectically constructed by students and the structures of the school. They specifically produce this public space performance for children now.
A space, is produced when/where people come together in informal, unstructured encounters of social diversity. This lens would see the skateparks of Ma and Minter as places where such spaces can be constructed
Here, for Nespor, the "public" sphere is physically shared space that is not owned by anyone but mean for public communal engagement.
I'm understanding that one of Nespor's key points in arguing the problematics of fieldtrip spaces is this - the positioning of students as detached spectators. This is encouraged by aesthetic framing and small bounded spaces. (I think) I get this argument, but I feel as if this isn't universal of all fieldtrips, and that's a huge thing holding me up on this article.
I think this is so important, and i wish that Nespor discussed the role of identity and privilege in "public" spaces further. Like the above comment questioning if NYC parks are "truly, open public spaces" - I don't believe that they are. Parks in New York are so heavily mediated in their construction, rules and regulations, and police presence. They're mediated in ways that benefit some people but disadvantage and even threaten the safety of other people.
producing as the balance between owned -for each individual- and public
Is the word 'settings' here used for what Ma & Munter (2014) call 'arena' and not 'setting'?
However, the 'Y' is shown as an example of the new ways to discourage the construction of public space. Same institution, same space, diverted relation to the concept of public space
The space of "school" has become so separated from public spaces that there seems to be little connection between it and the public sphere. Schools also enforce spacial boundaries so rigidly
And it seems like due to all these factors, public spaces become only public by name, not by practice...is it really public if the public does not have access to it?
Full disclosure I've really struggled with this article for some reason. I find this idea of figurative borders interesting (although obviously a place like Art Quest has physical borders too). It seems like according to Nespor space is defined by these figurative borders which can then separate or connect various entities
hasn't this article been focused on schools in suburban communities? I think there's a difference between city schools and suburban schools and their respective access to real public spaces. maybe I'm misunderstanding the true definition of a public space, but it seems like New York city students have plenty of access to true public spaces; whether they can legitimately participate in them might be a question but I think their participation is even more limited in suburban settings where visits to public spaces are so heavily mediated and choreographed.
is a "genuine tourist attraction" inauthentic? what do children gain by visiting a fake public space?
sidenote: can we talk about tourism as a legitimate form of learning and/or participation?
does this help form islands of expertise amongst some students?
The "public spaces" visited by students on field trips seem a bit different from public spaces like a skate park because students are not only told how to move through the spaces but they are not given a choice about which spaces to visit. Students may have elected to visit other public spaces but they are taken on field trips to public spaces selected by a teacher or other administrator whereas people elect to go to skate parks.
Do NYC parks not count as "truly, open public spaces?"
even before public spaces were destroyed by urban renewal, weren't there other concerns with allowing children to loiter in public spaces unaccompanied? safety?
Seems like Nespor sees producing space as repeated performance
Can we compare to "arena v. setting" as in the Ma/Munter piece?