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Urban childhoods…

May 9, 2012

“For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas (United Nations-Habitat 2006). Much of this shift can be accounted for by increased cross-national and internal migration as families search for a better quality of life. Consequently, more than ever before, children’s everyday lives are being shaped by urban environments and the kinds of experiences that are open or closed for them there (Prout 2003). This phenomena has been recognised in international agreements and policy initiatives such as UNICEF Child Friendly Cities initiative, where an explicit link has been made between the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (1989) and the need to take action at local government level, so that cities are places ‘where children’s rights to a healthy, caring, protective, educative, stimulating, non-discriminatory, inclusive, culturally rich environment are addressed’ (Riggio 2002, 45). / Contemporaneously, studies of urban childhood are drawing attention to the changing spatial conditions of childhood and their separation from society. Those located in western industrialised societies point to children’s reduced independent mobility outdoors in the city (Atkinson and Flint 2004; Gill 2008; Hillman, Adams, and Whitelegg 1990) and their ‘insularisation’ into child-specific institutions or ‘islands’, i.e., houses, daycare settings or after-school centres or leisure centres, between which they are escorted and ferried by adults (Karsten 2002; Zeiher 2003). Furthermore, in many cities both in developing countries and in the industrialised world, the numbers of gated communities are increasing, resulting in a different kind of social distancing or segregation as children and communities are separated from each other on the basis of income, class, age, ethnic group (Atkinson and Flint 2004).[1]

Increased migration, urbanisation and resultant heterogeneity of societies worldwide is focusing attention on another way of viewing of ECEC [early childhood education and care] pedagogy. This places to the fore the notion of the active participating child citizen supported by interdependent and inclusive relationships with other children and with significant adults. It also recognises the significance of space, play and belonging (Brooker and Woodhead 2008; Children in Europe 2008; Kjorholt 2008; Nimmo 2008). … Geographical dimensions of children’s lives include the intersection of human and physical worlds, and of time and space, spatial variation, the importance of scale, place knowledge, the distinctiveness of place and the meanings and feelings attached to significant sites of everyday life (McKendrick 2000; Philo 2000).” (201)

“In his discussion on ‘child-sized’ citizenship, Jans (2004) notes that children can identify themselves with larger social groups and communities which are ‘in reach’ (emphasis added) of children in their environments.” (205)

[1] 200 Margaret Kernan (2010) ‘Space and place as a source of belonging and participation in urban environments: considering the role of early childhood education and care settings’ European Early Childhood Education Research Journal 18(2): 199-213

And note the references… (most of which look interesting!)

References in Kernan’s article (References in Kernan)


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