The Global Routes model is a model of dialogic learning, which provides school children with the opportunity to photographically record their local area. The project enables children to open up links with residents in the area, and facilitates narrative constructions, led by the children, through an exploratory, rather than a predetermined learning approach. The project contributes to a flexible and locally situated curriculum that fluidly connects global and historical knowledges to the experiences and interests of the children and their interests, using photography as a creative means towards challenging stereotypes in education.
Why use this model?
As educators, we often source educational material online; this is conditioned by the data available through open search engines and online encyclopedias, which are likely to reflect hegemonic societal narratives. As an example, Wikipedia has been reported to have wide gender gaps and pro-Western perspectives.
“[r]esearch shows that just 16% of Wikipedia editors are female and only 17% of entries dedicated to notable people are for women.”Noor, P, 2018. Wikipedia biases: Reseacrh exposes, male-dominated, pro-western worldview of the online encyclopedia. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/29/the-five-wikipedia-biases-pro-western-male-dominated [Accessed 5.1.20]
‘the vast bulk of content written about most African countries on Wikipedia was by editors in Europe and North America… while most entries on European countries are written in Europe.”Noor, P, 2018. Wikipedia biases: Reseacrh exposes, male-dominated, pro-western worldview of the online encyclopedia. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/29/the-five-wikipedia-biases-pro-western-male-dominated [Accessed 5.1.20]
Whilst museums, galleries and books are also highly useful sources of imagery to educators (please see list of recommended reading on this site), the extent to which museum collections, for example, can represent places and cultures is questionable, due to the complex colonial histories of many collections and the dependency on curators to construct narratives. As we know, many stories have been hidden or untold in history, and arguably adding on ‘representations’ of previously hidden groups to existing frameworks may be insufficient.
Global Routes intends to provide opportunities for children to discuss local cultures in relation to each other and to take children’s perspectives of the workings of current everyday life, at a local level, as a way of relating to global and historical contexts. Global Routes uses the plural ‘histories’ as an approach to acknowledging the existence of multiple perspectives and knowledges, rather than a singular fixed, or simplified narrative.
The Global Routes model is used as a starting point to developing research questions, through child-led discussion and debate, where the children’s current perspectives are used to develop knowledges further. Following the project a combination of sources can be used to develop narratives and it should not be ‘who‘ provided the knowledge but ‘how‘ the knowledge is developed that is given credence:
“Although I risk oversimplification, it is probably correct to say that it does not matter who wrote what, but rather how it was written and how it is read.”p.460. Said. E., 2005. The Politics of Knowledge. In: McCarthy, C., Crichlow, W., Dimitriadis, G., Dolby, N., eds. 2005. Race, Identity and Representation in Education. London: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.