Today in my Arts in Urban Schools course we talked about Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR). Not entirely sure what kind of action this research was all about, but it certainly has the 3 other letters covered. The action research, “Bridging the GAP,” went down at a school in Corringham, Essex and at their local mall. I’m not sure if it was a marketing class or an art class, but the takeaways were about style and personal expression. The video is produced by Suklaa, a London-based creative agency that focuses on education & media. They write:
“‘Bridging the Gap’ focused on young people’s relationships with what they wear both in and out of school. 50 students at Gable Hall School took part in this social experiment project- where they first discussed their personal style outside of school and to what extent their clothes expressed their personalities. All the participating students were given a ‘weekend uniform’ consisting of straight blue jeans and plain white T-shirts- on a Saturday they all wore them and were asked to remove any makeup/ jewelry etc we went to Lakeside Shopping Centre (a place they’d normally hang out during weekends) – they recorded info relating to how they felt, how other people reacted to them- as well as taking images and notes of relating to the fashion around them.”
The students then collaborated with designers to rework the “uniform” into something that would appeal more to their demographic – i.e. themselves. Students voted on the best outfits at a culminating catwalk show.
Fun project, but where’s the action in this action research? This took place at a school where students wear a uniform – maybe a school uniform redesign challenge would have been more useful, or something that looked critically at how the shoppers at the mall reacted to the students before and after their personalization of the “weekend uniform” and what that says about people’s perceptions of teenagers.