Listening With Children to Explore the Sonic Landscapes of Schooling

In this video, Cassie Brownell (Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education-University of Toronto, Canada) discusses a recent project wherein children at her long-standing research site captured sounds of their schooling experience.

Ambient sounds inform everyday life–even at school, but often sounds like the scuffle of feet, the tapping of pencils, or the hum of a vent are heard as ‘noise’ or ‘quiet’ by teachers. Brownell shares the process of how she and the children grew more aware of different sounds of schooling and the different processes used to get children involved in the project. For example, after introductory exercises in comparing sounds in their school community, she asked the child participants to map out spaces they thought were important in thinking about sounds for a new visitor or a new person to the school community. Then, in pairs, the children captured the sounds they thought were most important. Additionally, she notes the pervasiveness of adults in the background of the recordings in her study, despite the free-flowing open nature of the events.

Brownell also shares reflection on working from sounds studies as an interdisciplinary field. She also emphasises the importance of melding different areas of study on sound and bringing those together to make sense of what we hear and what we understand in terms of the embodied multi-modal listening.

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