Endowed with the role of street explorers, children of public schools in São Paulo take part of an urban education project idealised by APÉ Study Group and Tomie Ohtake Arts Institute. Through city exploring, the project seeks the practice of urban thinking through walking with kids, as well as envisages including the experience outside the classroom in the educational background.
As a result of the partnertship between APÉ Group and Tomie Ohtake Arts Institute, the Exploradores da Rua project (“street explorers” in portuguese) endows children of public schools in São Paulo with the task of street explorers, that is, the discussion about the reality and their dreams for the liveable city. For the accomplishment of their missions, the kids are inspired by the story of famous adventurers, such as Jane Goodall, Auguste Piccard and the dog Laika as explorers of the jungle, the deep sea and the outer space, respectively.
Through the discussion with children, teachers and their parents, the proposal is drawn throughout meetings organized for a month before the day of the exploration, that is, the walking. The route planned is done together with the school teachers before, in which the themes to be approached are discussed, as well as all the senses that can be discovered by the children’s curiosity through the walking experience.
The preliminary meetings with the children enhance the relationship between all stakeholders (students and educators) by attending the different realities from each student. At these meetings some essencial aspects on urban thinking are comprised, such as their relation with walking and the ways from their homes to school, and the transportation modes they use everyday. At the same time, a story narrative of an exploring mission is created, about urban discovering and the importance of attention and care with the space, environment and all the different people involved.
At the day of the walking, the groups are oriented by a map of the exploration route, which proposes stops in interesting points, such as big trees, squares and colorful paintings on the walls. By stimulating their imagination and attention through the senses and questions about the urban space, the project aims to present children and teachers as responsible commuters of the public spaces they walk and to make the experience outside school something comfortable and familiar.
Guided by teachers and educators of both institutions, the children groups are allowed to explore the space with the help of some instruments, such as binoculars, magnifier and also a ziploc bag, in order to save the traces of visited sites. Finally, at Tomie Ohtake Arts Insitute, the end of the route, the kids occupy the ateliers with the task of registering their exploration and acting as little architects, coming up with their dreams and ideas for some of the places they’ve just walked through.
In the end, the result is a collection of drawings, collages and urban suggestions for the city they dream about, composed by leaves, flowers and all the traces found in the places they explored.
In a later date, another journey is done, in which the kids parents are also invited to compose the street explorers’ team. Having the school as departure point, another walk is planned, where the group spends the day at a square nearby and some ideas sketched by the kids can become reality, such as public furniture, playgrounds and the desire of colorful landscapes.
The project is thus not ended with the explorations organised by APÉ Group and Tomie Ohtake Arts Institute. It’s core objective of “Exploradores da Rua” to empower teachers and schools on continuing this process as part of a permanent urban education project.