Geographies of Children

Race, Gender, and Distance

In our interpretations of students photos, we organized our analysis in terms of race, gender, and distance.

Race

The class has a majority of African American students and they had more pictures than white students. African American students generally took more photos while traveling in a car or bus than white students did, but some white students did as well. (See photos by Student 5, Student 23, and Student 11, for example). African American students generally took more pictures of businesses, such as a laundry, Kohls and a Storage Center. White students took more photos on walks through of their neighborhood, but African-American students did as well. Examples of this are shown in Student 3, and Student 2. In conclusion, there are no clear differences in observing just race alone.

Gender

Within the students’ photographs, we noticed the difference in how the students would describe their photos of nature. In terms of gender, there was a trend between the photographs, with boys not describing their photos in much detail, and with the girls describing their nature photos as ‘beautiful’, ‘pretty’, etc. (We, as researchers, attributed ‘aesthetic’ to the boys). What is fascinating to us is why this is? Is there a correlation between gender and perception in children? With our mental maps, and the interviews associated with them, this correlation strongly exists, but it may have to do more with interest levels rather than gender. Examples of this are shown under the tag, aesthetics.

Distance

Students who lived close did not take as many pictures of landmarks (i.e. murals, scenery, stores) due to not having to travel beyond the park and school boundaries. There was more accessibility to the park and school, and so their pictures represented real-life interpretations of some features they discussed/drew in their mental map interviews. The students who had to travel across the city to reach the school took more pictures of the city scenery on their commutes. Many of these students who traveled were in transit by car, from the school to their homes (or vice-versa), and this allowed for a broader interpretation of what the city looked like to them.