Learning the City & The City as School

During the last two years I had the opportunity to work in two different projects that promote a new way to connect learning processes (pedagogy) with urban life. One is called Aprehender la Ciudad (Learning the city) and another one is called Ciudad Escuela (The City as School).

Ciudad Escuela (The City as School)

A project by BasuramaZuloarkAlberto CorsínAdolfo EstalellaAlfonso Sánchez Uzábal y Domenico Di Siena.

Ciudad Escuela might be translated as ‘The City as School’. It is an attempt at designing an open-source urban pedagogy: What would a city look like if re-imagined as a pedagogy sourced (open-sourced) on grass-roots and community projects?

Ciudad Escuela is built using Mozilla’s Open Badges technology. Briefly put, Open Badges have been designed by Mozilla to help people learn skills that might otherwise not easily be ‘verified’ in the age of the Internet. Although Badges can be put to many different uses, they are particularly useful for showcasing pedagogical capacities that escape the disciplinary and normative canons of traditional schooling systems. Badges are of course ideal for experimenting with in an urban context. From urban community gardens to dérives, from protest camps to Occupy assemblies, from free and open source Wi-Fi networks to recycling communities, urban projects are pregnant with relational capacities through which people learn to turn their cities into more hospitable and sustainable environments.

Ciudad Escuela is designed with a view to turning these various capacities into pedagogies. The website’s home has three icons: Discover (Descubre), Learn (Aprende) and Do (Haz). If you click on Discover you will be introduced to our 5 pedagogical itineraries: five approaches to thinking about open-source urbanism, from ‘Open Infrastructures’ to ‘Code and Languages’, ‘Interfaces’, ‘Urbanism in Beta’ and ‘Dis-placements’ (in Spanish, des-plazamientos, a playful word game on plazas-that-move).

Each itinerary offers a route into imagining and re-assembling the city as an open-source experiment. Each itinerary is made up in turn by a variety of Badges. Some Badges form part of more than one itinerary (for example, ‘Open Designs’), while other Badges are exclusive to a particular itinerary. One can also navigate directly to the various Badges on offer by clicking directly on the ‘Learn’ button on the website’s home.

There are 15 Badges altogether. Our Badges may be thought-of as grassroots urban skills: skills, abilities or tools that have proven useful for specific community projects. Our hope is that communities will eventually propose Badges themselves, or even whole itineraries of their own design. (The Badge that goes under the name Pedagogías Abiertas (Open Pedagogies) is in fact awarded to those who design a Badge or itinerary themselves.)

Thus, to earn a Badge, we have teamed-up with community projects all over Madrid (and, incipiently, with initiatives at other Spanish cities) to have some of their activities included as skills that can earn Badges. There are auto-construction workshops by guerrilla architectural collectives, dérives and walkabouts led by neighbourhood associations, workshops on urban gardening, seminars on critical urban studies by academics, etc.

One of our itineraries speaks of the city as ‘Urbanism in beta’ and Ciudad Escuela is very much an experiment ‘in beta’ itself. Yet it is perhaps this capacity to mobilize relations, media surfaces and devices, and urban sites in novel contingent and productive arrangements that signals to a new field of political praxis in the city. Our School is as wide as the city itself, and it is our hope that this willingness to source its teaching materials, to open-source them from the city’s inexhaustible inventiveness, will warrant its proliferation and generativity.

More info: www.ciudad-escuela.org

This text describing the “Ciudad Escuela” project is by Alberto Corsin.

Aprehender la Ciudad (Learning the City)

project by Andrés Walliser with the collaboration of Domenico Di Siena for Fundación Estudio.

Aprehender la Ciudad is a project of environmental learning focused on the introduction of contents and practices in schools around the urban ecosystem. The project has been developed in Fundación Estudio (Madrid) by urban sociologist Andres Walliser. During one year and a half the project team has been working with the staff and students of Colegio Estudio putting in value the existing contents that are related to urban ecosystems plus enhancing and developing new contents and activities throughout the curriculum from age 4 to age 17.
The project seek to focus attention on five main axis: recycling, food, water and air cycles, urban form, transport and mobility, public space, plus two transversal axis (sustainability and lifestyles).

The aims of the project are: to raise awareness on the importance of cities as ecosystems from an experiential learning pedagogical approach and to develop a methodology that facilitates the introduction and articulation of topics related with the urban ecosystems from a multidisciplinary perspective.

The activities and contents have been developed from a broad perspective that includes not only sustainability and strictly urban ecosystem issues. New forms of collective learning and knowledge productive have been introduced through cutting edge innovative approaches to working and thinking, like educational robotics in a pro commons mindset. School orchards, active recycling and awareness of the city are currently developed by teachers and students.

more info: http://aprehenderlaciudad.wordpress.com

This text describing the “Aprehender la Ciudad” project is by Andrés Walliser.

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