Recently a friend pointed out to me that she had come across the term “Third Space” in an article on LITERACY by Elizabeth Moje. The concept is discussed in some detail, but to distil some of the main points, Moje talks about first space which includes the understandings and language from a student’s everyday life; and second space which includes classroom and academic language. Third Space becomes a hybrid of these or a bridge between the two. It can be a “navigational” space to provide ways of succeeding in different discourse communities. It can also be a space of change where competing knowledges are brought together in “conversation” to challenge and reshape both the academic content and the everyday content of students’ lives. A Third Space helps learners to see connections as well as contradictions between the way they know the world and the way others know the world. Thus it can become a place of reflection, change and growth as well as learning.
(Elizabeth Moje is associate professor of educational studies at the University of Michigan.)