By Yuri Smith, Guest Contributor
I recently had the pleasure of reading an article titled, “Urban” Schooling and “Urban” Families: The Role of Context and Place,” by Vivian L. Gadsden1 and Ezekiel J. Dixon-Román. The article was in the Urban Education 2017, Vol. 52(4) 431–459. This article caught my attention because I grew up in a community that was labeled an “urban” community and when I think about the context in which it was used, I can not think of anything positive. The article explains how conceptualizations of urban context and place in research, practice, and policy are relational, ranging from spatial dimensions to cultural practices of children, families, and communities in metropolitan areas. The article focuses on the inherent complexity of these conceptualizations and long- standing debates in education and social science research that label urban as a point of both identity and designation.
The article breaks down how society has designated “urban” to replace the term inner-city and as a result equates to low income families. The horrifying reality of this is the fact that the word “urban” begins to create images that dis- proportionately point to deficits or highlight cultural and social capital as to highlight the restrictions to opportunity and access that institutional structures. The author did a great job of not challenging the significance of the term, which is used widely and regularly. Instead, we examine a core of issues associated with the term, urban, highlighting three points: (a) conceptualizations of urban context and place, (b) applications of the term to schools and schooling, and (c) the ways in which the term is acted upon to locate and label the educational and social experiences of families and students. (p. 422)
Yuri Smith is an Educational Leadership Master of Arts student in the IU School of Education at IUPUI.