Monday, February 9, 2015

A City Created by Children for Children

This is a kid city that looks like New York City. It is very busy. There are apartment buildings and twenty houses. This is me walking on the bridge. It is going to the train track. We would need to have water. What if the water dried up with the sun? We need to drink water or we will die. We have to have electricity. Sometimes a stick falls on the electricity and the lights go out. 

We should have grown ups in a kid city because what would happen if kids did not know how to be a grown
 up. Some one has to teach you how to be a grown up.            Evan

We asked the children to design a city that would be created by children for children. We thought it might give some insight as to the parts of a city that the children identify as being important or interesting. The provocation was offered earlier by Anna to understand the children's perspective of the city.  What landmarks, features or considerations would make an urban area more appealing to children? What might they include in their designs?

There is a rock park in my story. The arrow shows where I should go. The double arrows means you can go both ways. There is a candy truck. It goes to the candy store to deliver candy. There are stop signs and a house. There is a man who parachuted out of the plane into the water. He has a bathing suit on. The airplane is landing on a platform that goes up and down. There is a little old fashion truck. There is a box in it and it has candy canes in it. 
We would need adults to take care of us. They would get us food maybe. They would help us build stuff like a house. Luke

One of the big discussions generated from this question is whether a city for children should include adults. Many of the children feel that it would be hard for them to live in a world without adults. The reasons varied from the practical to the emotional.

One day we debated this dilemma with the entire Kindergarten and recorded the following thoughts that were expressed. 

If the kids are in charge of the world, they have the right to do what they want to do.

We could ride our bike to find food.

We would need a police men if people wanted to steal things from the store.

Kids should have the right to keep your money safe.

You would need kid size restaurants.

You could have kids serve you.

Kids have the right to have doctors.

We might need an adult to be a doctor.

We might need kid sized carts in the kid sized grocery store.

If you were very thirsty and there was not any water in the city kids would get dehydrated.

If there was not a place to live then there would be no place to go to after they are at work.

We don’t need grownups in a kid city because kids would be the doctors.

If kids go to the restaurant and they don’t like the food because you don’t have to order it.
You can order whatever you want.

You need a grown up in a city because kids don’t know how to do anything.

Kids know how to do a lot of things. I know how to cook.

You could eat anything you want.

Kids should eat healthy things and not eat too much candy. They can eat sweet stuff for dessert.

If there is no grownups than they could not take care of the kids.

Kids do not know how to drive cars and who would drive them places.

I said that we would make cars for kids.

We could make cars out of junk.

Maybe we could have kids that are grown ups. What age should the kids leave the kid city?

When you are eighteen you are a grown up.

Before you are a teenager you are adult.

You can stop when you are eight.

You are a little kid, teenager, then you are a grown up.

There is no such thing as kid city.

We should leave when you are nine.

Sixteen because if you wanted to live in a certain city or older.

I ask what size they are and what age they are and then I build a car for them. Then I give them a 
driver’s license. You must be seven or up and how much you weigh.The steering wheel that they can reach and a double wheel car. So more people could drive the car.

This conversation was fascinating for so many reasons. It is hard to imagine a world without adults for many of the children. Perhaps the disconnect from the reality of the situation is too great. Others do not have a perception of children as being able to do the things that adults do for them like cook, grocery shop, keep them safe and care for them when they are sick. For some children it is a pragmatic problem. The shopping carts are too big and there are not cars their size. 

Only a few children are able to suspend reality and imagine a city that might be inhabited by children.without adults. These children perceive themselves as capable and able to do the things that adults do each day for them.

There is a rock climbing place an a rainbow in our kid city. There is a candy shop and some trees which are important in a kid city. There is a pet store and a circus that comes to town in the city. The road and the river and two houses are important, 

I think there should be adults to take care of babies.

Sabine draws a city with whimsical fun experiences. Rainbows, rock climbing, candy store, trees, a pet store and a circus are all included in her city. What would our downtown look like with a climbing wall in the midst of it?  We do have a candy store in Carytown but is it designed with children in mind? Sabine felt that she would be able to navigate a city that was designed with children in mind but she did not think that she could take care of her little brother and would need her mom and dad to be present to do that work.

There is an airplane and the airplane is running into a bird. There are three houses in my kid city. There is a slide, a swing, a skateboarder and two guys playing tennis. It is important to have the law in our city like no blowing up people's houses. You need to have to look both ways when you cross the road and stop at the stop sign.

 I want adults in the kid city so they can could take care of us. I have adults in my picture.  

Cole's design is  very similar to the city that he lives in currently.  Cole is emphatic that the city needs to have adults to keep the children safe. Rules are a fundamental part of a city and children obey these rules with the help of adults.

This work is very nuanced. We thought we were asking questions with the intention of discovering each child's interpretation of their experiences in Richmond. However, as we peeled back the layers we are discovering how each child stands in their world. What do they see as their anchors? What do they feel is necessary in their world? How do they fit into the world they see around them?

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