Geographies of Children

Distance

We also looked at maps to see if there were differences in those drawn by students who lived close to the park, who are more likely to visit the park outside of school time and have more time and more experiences in the park than others, and those who lived further from the park, whose experiences are likely defined by school activities.  Students who lived less than a mile from the park were classified as close, those who lived one to four miles away as middle distance and those who lived more than four miles as far. If a student had two houses and we had enough information from parents, we put them in the closer category.  Below you can see examples of maps from students who live close, medium distance, and far from the park.

Students who live close to the park include many paths and their maps might reflect a more complex and detailed knowledge of the park and how the different parts of the park are connected via routes. The maps of students who live far from the park include more pictorial representations than birds-eye renditions of the park. One student who lives far drew a picture of “the water flowing around, and these are the rocks,” which might seem to indicate a lack of knowledge of the park, but which we believe represents a conscious decision to represent his or her favorite place in the park: the rocks and the creek. Students who live a medium distance from the park drew maps with considerable diversity. Some students drew very detailed paths (see Student 3 and Student 23), while others drew pictures of important features or locations in the park (see Student 10 and Student 18).

We recognize that this categorization could miss a variety of information, including students who have moved and who have separate households that we don’t know about. Neighborhood was also the information that the most parents did not want to share with us. Despite these limitations, we believe that students who attend the school all have an opportunity to develop their own attitudes about and relationship to the park whether they live close or far and that in this way the school enables students to forge a relationship with urban nature and with each other