School as Spatial Text: Power and Social Reproduction in Educational Space.

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'It is always the body that is at issue' the body and its forces, their utility and their docility, their distribution and their submission? Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. ?We must be insistently aware of how space can be made to hide consequences from us, how relations of power and discipline are inscribed into the apparently innocent spatiality of social life , how human geographies become filled with politics and ideology? Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies. Every morning at 8:13 a.m. the bell rings at Rockdale Elementary School. At least 100 young bodies immediately freeze in their positions around the expanse of black pavement which is their playground. These students know what that bell means: do not move, stand in your places. First the equipment monitors are dismissed. They walk among the seemingly paralyzed students toward the boxes of basketballs. They clear the playground of any toys and balls which may have been used during the morning play session. Then movement begins again but it is virtually soundless. Several single file lines begin to form in the 'game area.' A teacher appears in front of each line and the students are lead quietly into the boxes of fluorescent light, their classrooms.All of this takes place in less than two minutes and at 8:15 a.m. another bell rings, the school day has begun. The goal of my summer research has been to, in the words of Edward Soja and Henri Lefebvre 'demystify' the space of school. During visits to Los Angeles and San Marino schools (both private and public) I photographed and otherwise documented the space in which the students play and learn searching for patterns based on the socio-economic class backgrounds of the students. Examining the space of education has proven to unveil many of the ways that power, ideology, and the relations of production play themselves out in our lived experiences.


M. M. Taylor




Ford-Anderson Research Fellowship

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