Occasional Paper Series

Issue 48
Learning Within Socio-Political Landscapes: (Re)imagining Children’s Geographies


by Kathryn Lanouette and Katie Headrick Taylor

Teacher helps children with art-based river projectOver a century ago, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, one of Bank Street College’s founders, put into practice a vision of teaching and learning enmeshed in the physical, social, and political city spaces of young peoples’ daily lives. Central to her work was reimagining geography, grounding the discipline in the here and now of children’s neighborhoods, connecting with community members and city spaces as a means to explore complex relationships within the wider world. Mitchell considered working across different modes of engagement as an integral practice for children to learn about their worlds and their roles within it: physical movement, like walking and subway riding, and the construction of maps with varying scales, materials, and symbols (Mitchell, 1991). Mitchell also envisioned movement and mapping as essential for teachers’ learning, leading multi-day Long Trips along the eastern seaboard to make visible educators’ connections to contemporary social, political, and environmental realities, and connecting city and rural locales. Temporally, these practices and tools acted as playful intermediaries between visible and invisible interrelationships constituting children’s and adult’s lives and livelihoods.

In this special issue, we bring together educators and researchers to (re)imagine what it means to teach and learn within the immediacy of the here and now, an orientation crucial to confronting contemporary threats to children’s lives, democracy, and the planet. We seek to extend and broaden Mitchell’s original conceptualizations by centering the past and future alongside the immediacies of the now, elevating Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) perspectives in children’s geographies and exploring potentialities of mapping in analog as well as emerging digital forms. We also aim to carry forward her commitments to listening to children with curiosity and care, rooted in a belief that young people know a lot about the world already and that they are fully capable of delving deep into complex processes and problems. As such, this collection situates young peoples’ here and now within socio-political landscapes, the wider nested systems and structures that constitute and reconstitute land, place, and children’s geographies.

Read the Full Essay (pdf) Full PDF of OPS #48 Read the StoryMap Version (ArcGIS)

Guest Editor

Kathryn Lanouette, GSE ’06, is assistant professor of learning sciences and science education at William & Mary’s School of Education. In collaboration with schools and museums, her research and teaching explore how place-based pedagogies and emerging technologies can be central to young people’s learning about science and data science in ways that build towards more joyful and ethical futures. Her scholarship is shaped by her teaching experiences in Washington, DC and New York City. Lanouette has published in Science Education, Educational Researcher, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, and Mathematical Thinking and Learning.

Kathryn Lanouette

Guest Editor

Katie Headrick Taylor is associate professor of learning sciences and human development at the University of Washington’s College of Education. Research-practice partnerships led by Taylor center racial and gender equity in STEM, data science, and digital literacy. These collaborations have occurred across museums, public libraries, public schools, homes, undergraduate courses, and family-serving organizations in New York, Chicago, Nashville, Seattle, and nonmetropolitan areas of East Tennessee. Her scholarship and teaching focus on community well-being through the digital re-mediation of learning, foregrounding the ingenuity that young people from immigrant and/or communities of Color have within and across contexts. Taylor’s commitment to care as a design value for digitally-mediated learning interventions has been fundamentally shaped by her roles as mother, daughter, educator, and writer. Funded by, among others, the National Science Foundation, the NAEd/ Spencer Foundation, and the Heising-Simons Foundation, Taylor’s research and public scholarship can be found in venues such as The Conversation, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, Cognition & Instruction, Connected Science Learning, and Learning, Media, & Technology.

Katie Headrick Taylor