You see what you look for. Since the past post on universities as cities, and because our campus theme next year is City, I've been looking for examples of work at the connection of learning and cities.
Today I came across Udaipur as a Learning City, a project led by Shikshantar: The People's Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, an NGO in India, to create learning spaces in the city, and by so doing, bring freedom, relevance, and joy to education.
The Udaipur project has many aspects--city-wide learning communities, projects to create learning in parks, movie-making about learning outside of school, and citizen discussions among them. All of the projects aim to take the power and complexity of city life, and turn it into learning. Running in the background are the ideas of Rabindranath Tagore, Gandhi, EF Schumaker, and Ivan Illich. But the projects don't carry the stigma of intellectualism. They are instead locally grown efforts to learn all the time.
Udaipur got me thinking anew about a series of workshops that local community activists and Westminster have been hosting. Called the Sugar House Forum, the bi-monthly meetings aim to create conversations about healthy communities, and then out of those conversations to promote on-going projects and develop new leaders. We have hosted three to date: one on food, one on history, and one on shopping locally. Our next, on place-making, is coming up on Feb. 27.
I wonder, then, what would happen if we thought of communities as schools. How would our neighborhoods and towns be different if one of their goals was learning? How would our schools be different if they were only responsible for those portions of learning that could not be accomplished through everyday life, punctuated with conversation, work, and contemplation?
(I've done a bit of writing about these questions in my chapter, "Making Moral Systems of Education" in Education and the Making of a Democratic People, fwiw.)