Putting Ourselves on the Map
A Placed Based Learning Pilot Project
Mapping for Change in collaboration with the Humanities Education Centre (HEC) and local specialist on learning and ‘place’ Maggie Hewitt, have been working with three schools in Tower Hamlets (Columbia School Community Map, Arnhem Wharf School Community Map and John Scurr School Community Map) to pilot a brand new process in which Year 4 pupils develop personalised maps of their local area with their own likes, memories and views on change.
The mapping process included learning how to navigate online systems like Google earth, Google maps, which helped to develop a ‘child-centred view’ of the area. Children was encouraged to reflect on their experiences of place, supporting geographical content, exploration and sharing around identity and enhancement of self-esteem and confidence.
Maps were used as grids and stories. Students were firstly, taken around their school’s neighbourhood where they had the chance to observe the environment around and make notes about several themes (green spaces, memories, questions, answers, things liked, disliked and wished) that were classified according to ‘my world’ and ‘ on my way to school diaries’. The student’s ideas across different ‘layers’ were first written onto large paper maps using post-it notes.
On the second moment, after notes, drawings and photos organised, students then had the chance to share their own perception with others.The whole activity was important for several reasons. Pupils had the change to explore and take ownership of their local environment, share their views and findings and work together to seek solutions. According to a teacher at the Columbia school: “They are beginning to understand that they are entitled to an opinion about their environment and that their ideas are valid.”
Once the pilot is over we hope schools will be interested in running this process, supporting literacy, I.T. and technical map skills, and the wider school agenda of community cohesion and the aims of Every Child Matters.