Over 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.