A Syllabus of Care
On Curriculum, Care, and Co-Production
We must care for our infrastructures if we are, in turn, to ask of our infrastructures to care for us: it is a proposition contained within an ecology of care which, here, begins to take shape within the space of learning, and asks how a transformative pedagogy of care might be brought to bear on the infrastructures of learning, and learning, itself. A critical pedagogy of care retains as the persistent condition of its operation an entangled, nonsovereign co-production -- a co-production of the infrastructures within which a civic body might enact political aspirations, construct kinship, and, crucially, learn. It is premised on an understanding of co-production and care as coextensive ethical and pragmatic practices, and grounded in a similar epistemological terrain -- a terrain that does not merely juxtapose difference but that is fundamentally relational.
Many school buildings in Canada are outdated and unable to teach ethical, civic responsibilities to children. It has become critical to rethink school and its integration within urban landscapes. Here's the problem: Although Griffintown is a booming area in Montréal, condominium development began prior to the development of a proper urban planning scheme. As a result, the neighbourhood lacks basic public amenities such as schools, parks, community centres, as well as intimate landscapes to animate pedestrian life. The lot delimited by Rues Ottawa, Eleanor, William, and Murray provides the ground for a pedagogy of care and an opportunity to introduce those taking residence in a new Griffintown to the site's infrastructural history, to establish their stake in the continuity of the community.
The necessary infrastructures for a variety of learning opportunities will be provided, however, in the end, students, teachers, and ordinary citizens are the ones to mobilize such infrastructures; citizens are offered a degree of control in the coproduction of the urban landscape. Materiality, textures, and scale as well as shading and shelters are the instrumental tools alluding to programming opportunities, but will never prescribe one particularly. A freedom from program will encourage a mutually didactic experience between citizens, students, and the environment. The syllabus is used as a tool to guide potential citizen and student intervention, encouraging users to observe their surroundings in order to use them to their full potential. It is often so that the least restrictive spaces are the ones most remembered from childhood; to a child, an alleyway is as much of a play space as a jungle gym. By offering students the ability to shape their environment, these in-between spaces become some of the most intellectually engaging spaces that the school offers.
The formal learning environment is housed in a mixed-used building complex that aims to engage a wide range of actors. A careful consideration of such actors in the curriculum would result in an entwined program which reinforces the feeling of interdependence and care in the community. A commercial space might attract citizens who otherwise would not have a stake in the educational complex. A residential, commercial, and educational program would be well integrated, encouraging businesses to actively engage with the complex's community and educational goals.
The rapidly shifting demographics and lack of public amenities in Griffintown present an exciting opportunity to care for a neighbourhood in drastic change. Students of this school will be encouraged to be part of this intervention through the syllabus, and grasp a better understanding of the needs and functions of their neighbourhood. Students will be entrusted to care for their surrounding spaces, ultimately fostering a sense of responsibility toward the urban environment. These initiatives will be the starting point for broader community engagement, ultimately encouraging citizens to continue what the students began in their classes.
(Competitor's text excerpt)
(Click French version to read the jury's comments)
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