Gallery Projects , , , ,

Mapping as Metaphor & Practice in Community-Immersive Teacher Education

Christopher Rogers
University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Anna Smith
Illinois State University College of Education

Gallery Project Statement

Recent work led by Souto Manning et. al (2019) has sought to interrupt the unjust status quo of teacher education by forwarding a shared transformative justice commitment that the rich legacies and assets of communities of color must be recognized, leveraged, and cultivated in and through teacher education programs, structures, and practices. While much research about the effectiveness of culturally-responsive curriculum exists (Dee & Penner 2017), it has yet to catalyze everyday practice within teacher education to embrace an ecological view (Lee 2008) of the small activities taken up by residents that coalesce into lively communities full of intrigue, dreams, and possibilities in spite of long-standing legacies of marginalization. The purpose of our project seeks to explore the possibilities of teacher-led collaborative mapping as an avenue within K-12 teacher preparation programs to address this demand. We ask: From where do teachers learn to cultivate and sustain critical connections with a community? We are in the process of documenting the work of teacher educators embarking upon community mapping as a form of critical connected learning (Ito et al. 2013) for the teachers and communities of color with whom they work.

In communities, such as the South Africa-based Chimurenga collective (Ose 2014), and disciplines such as urban planning, geography, and learning sciences, work in community mapping can be utilized to draw out the ways youth and adults transform the spaces they inhabit into incubators of pleasure, hope, and desire amidst ongoing marginalization (Bates et al. 2018; Ribakoff & Coval 2017; Hunter & Robinson 2018; Taylor & Hall 2013). Teacher education has much to gain from (re)mapping strategies to support teachers in becoming part of the thriving communities in which they wish to serve. Following Solnit and Shapiro (2016) and Corner (1999, p.214) we take up mapping not merely as a representational activity, but as a transformational “cultural project, creating and building the world as much as measuring and describing it”. As collaborative practice, mapping has the capacity to surface multiple and conflicting conditions and perspectives of the educational landscapes across a community that may otherwise be overlooked or discounted (Leander 2010). In this sense, the practices of community mapping hold promise to operate as meaning-making incubators of the type youth are already engaged.

In our initial findings, (re)mapping activities in teacher education are elucidating links between people, places, and spaces that form the lifeblood of a community. The cerebral work of (re)mapping (Solnit & Shapiro 2016) is allowing teachers to (re)discover youth lived experience, improvisation, and imagination (Edjabe 2017) as interest-driven forms of knowledge that can be carried through curriculum and leveraged toward civic, economic, academic, and political opportunities (Ito, et al. 2013). Drawing from research around Rasquache and Black spatial imaginaries (Bedoya 2014) that take an asset-based approach to communities of color, we recognize the potential for transformative teacher education (Souto-Manning 2019) and pedagogies that flow from being immersed in these ways within community.


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