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'Schooling' and 'Education' are Not Synonyms

Posted by Dara Eisenstein on April 02, 2012

Ethnography ForumFour graduate students from Bank Street’s Leadership in Community-Based Learning Program (LCBL) presented original research at the annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education on February 25, 2012. 

Community Educators Bonnie Pauska, Clara Waloff, Tal Bar-Zemer, and Michael LoGuidice discussed projects completed for Dr. Linda Levine’s semester-long course, “Community-Based Action Research.” In keeping with the Forum’s theme of “Communities of Inquiry,” the projects were undertaken in collaboration with stakeholders for whom participation offered an opportunity to explore what was (or was not) working in their setting and to improve their educational practice. All of the projects shared an emphasis on widening options for teaching and learning.

The first project, “One Heart to Another,” was presented by Early Childhood Director Bonnie Pauska, who examined the initiation and progress of an intergenerational art program that fosters relationships and understanding between preschool children and seniors at a nearby residential center. The program promotes a humanistic, student centered approach to learning across the generations, and provides essential engagement for the residents while increasing the children’s comfort and familiarity with seniors. The Community of Inquiry included school staff, senior facility staff, senior residents, parents, and children who participated in data collection, reflection, analysis, and planning.

Clara Waloff, an artist and a community educator in Brooklyn, presented “Put Yourself in My Shoes: Toward Social Change and Community Development through the Arts.” Waloff studied a group of urban adolescents who addressed the question, “How can we create art that is beautiful yet inspiring enough to change how people think and act?” A central theme was “what it means to be included in the making,” and the projects highlighted youth participation in theorizing and well as the inquiry processes.

Afterschool educator Tal Bar-Zemer discussed “Rules of Engagement: Claims and Practices in a Youth-Centered Community-Based Learning Program.” She addressed the challenges and benefits of a “Third Space” (i.e. neither home nor school,) as a community for learning that provides ongoing support for human development as well as shared critical inquiry. Tal placed special emphasis on designs and processes that do not merely colonize afterschool programs by emphasizing academics alone. Her data sources included an environmental study, individual and focus group interviews, discourse analysis, and site documents from a staff training day.

Michael LoGuidice, Senior Social Worker at the Bank Street Liberty LEADS Program, presented “A Place that is New to Them: Toward a Study Abroad Experience for Urban Teenagers.” The collaborative, participatory action research project identified areas of growth among students who had studied abroad; two Liberty students, Mary Leah Bartolemy and Hazel Pina, who played key roles in the project, were eloquent participants in the presentation. As a result of this research, Liberty Leads has secured 55 scholarships for young men of color to attend a “Green Summer School” over the next three years in Hamburg, Germany.

Dr. Mayra Bloom, Advisor and Director of Leadership in Community-Based Learning, served as discussant for the session.