ERIC Number: EJ936432
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
The Ballet of the Streets: Teaching about Cities at Street Level
McGuire, Patrick A.; Spates, James L.
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, v20 spec iss p71-86 Spr 2011
The urban scholar Jane Jacobs once described city life as "the ballet of the streets." In more than a quarter century of joint teaching, the authors have used Jacobs' metaphor to help their students understand that cities are living organisms created and maintained, for good or ill, by the people who live and work in them. At heart their teaching are intense encounters with cities, a "street level" experience designed to give students a chance to walk the city's streets, and to meet its people, prominent and not, so that they can discover for themselves, in living context, the city's culture, varying life-styles, and issues. Given their international importance and astronomical growth over the last half century, cities are arguably the most significant social systems in the world and, as a result, are crucial for students to understand as such. The purpose of this paper is to share, first, the methodology the authors have developed for studying cities "at street level"; and second, to suggest how that methodology might be used in the study of cities anywhere. Starting with a course comparing New York and Toronto, they have used a similar approach to study cities in England, Ireland, Italy, Central Europe, China, and Vietnam.
Descriptors: Social Systems, Dance, Figurative Language, Foreign Countries, Urban Areas, Life Style, Metropolitan Areas, Comparative Analysis, Research Methodology, Urban Studies
Frontiers Journal. Dickinson College P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. Tel: 717-254-8858; Fax: 717-245-1677; Web site: http://www.frontiersjournal.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Toronto); New York