Wednesday, 28 May 2014

How do you feel in this room?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm really interested in linguistic landscape. I'm always curious about what symbols and texts mean in our environment, e.g. in the interior of our homes, schools, offices or on the façade of various buildings. However, not only texts and images but the arrangement of the furniture and every other property of the spatial organization can be relevant and meaningful. That's why I was very happy when I got an invitation to a seminar which targeted university students from Serbia who study mathematics and physics. This seminar, led by Kristóf Fenyvesi, focused on the connections between visual culture, mathematics and education.

I planned to discuss the topic 'Linguistic landscapes in education' based on a couple of pictures from my 2013 fieldwork in Budapest so I prepared and projected a couple of aspects for analysis:

(1) Is this familiar to you? Why?
(2) What do you think about the community which uses these public spaces? What do you think: (a) whose idea could be to use the space/surface this way?; (b) what values and expectations can you associate to these settings?; (c) are there discussions/debates within the community concerning the illustrated settings?
(3) Would you like to suggest modifications? 

Since the seminar room was arranged for the needs of frontal, teacher-centred work (teacher's table next to the blackboard, in front of the students who were sitting behind their desks in three parallel rows), firstly I asked the students to reflect on the arrangement of the room, following the aspects projected to the wall. They criticized the room because of its strong teacher-centredness and mentioned that this is against lively debates. I asked them to rearrange the room according to their own needs and they, a bit surprised, started to move the furniture immediately. Soon, the desks formed a semi-circle, so everybody could see everybody else and could communicate more easily. I think this instant warm-up, which was not planned, gave a very good basis for discussion.

What do you think about the pictures I uploaded? Please comment!

14 May 2014. Linguistic landscapes in education. Visual Culture, Mathematics, Education TEMPUS seminar, Jyväskylä, Finland.

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