Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance

This book brings together the notions of material school design and educational governance in the first such text to address this critical interrelationship in any depth. In addressing the issue of governance through analysing current and historical material school designs, it looks at the intersection of politics, economics, aesthetics and pedagogical ideas and practices. More specifically, it explores and unfolds educational governance as it is constituted, materialized and transformed in and through material school designs. It does so by studying a range of issues: from the material and aesthetic language of schooling to the design of the built environment, from spatial organization to the furnishing and equipment of classrooms, and from technologies of regulation to the incorporation of tools of learning. The book presents examples from Europe, Latin and Central America and the United States, and relates to the past, present and future of governance and school design. It focuses on design processes and on designers/architects and people involved in the planning of school design, as well as on school leaders, teachers and pupils adopting, inhabiting and re-shaping them in everyday school life. Furthermore, the book discusses how to study governance by material school design, and how to act upon governance by material design on wishful, actual and ethical terms.

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Educational Governance Research 9

Ian Grosvenor · Lisa Rosén Rasmussen Editors

Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance

Educational Governance Research Volume 9

Series Editors Lejf Moos, Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark Stephen Carney, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark Editorial Advisory Board Herbert Altrichter, University of Linz, Austria Stephen J. Ball, Institute of Education, London, England Y.C. Chen, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong Neil Dempster, Griffith University, Australia Olof Johansson, Umeå University, Sweden Gita Steiner Khamsi, Columbia University, USA Klaus Kasper Kofod, Aarhus University, Denmark Jan Merok Paulsen, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science, Oslo, Norway James P. Spillane, Northwest University, Chicago, USA Michael Uljens, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Educational Governance Research Aims and Scope This series presents recent insights in educational governance gained from research that focuses on the interplay between educational institutions and societies and markets. Education is not an isolated sector. Educational institutions at all levels are embedded in and connected to international, national and local societies and markets. One needs to understand governance relations and the changes that occur if one is to understand the frameworks, expectations, practice, room for manoeuvre, and the relations between professionals, public, policy makers and market place actors. The aim of this series is to address issues related to structures and discourses by which authority is exercised in an accessible manner. It will present findings on a variety of types of educational governance: public, political and administrative, as well as private, market place and self-governance. International and multidisciplinary in scope, the series will cover the subject area from both a worldwide and local perspective and will describe educational governance as it is practised in all parts of the world and in all sectors: state, market, and NGOs. The series: –– Covers a broad range of topics and power domains –– Positions itself in a field between politics and management/leadership –– Provides a platform for the vivid field of educational governance research –– Looks into ways in which authority is transformed within chains of educational governance –– Uncovers relations between state, private sector and market place influences on education, professionals and students. More information about this series at

Ian Grosvenor  •  Lisa Rosén Rasmussen Editors

Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance

Editors Ian Grosvenor School of Education University of Birmingham Birmingham, UK

Lisa Rosén Rasmussen The Danish School of Education Aarhus University Copenhagen, Denmark

ISSN 2365-9548     ISSN 2365-9556 (electronic) Educational Governance Research ISBN 978-3-319-97018-9    ISBN 978-3-319-97019-6 (eBook) Library of Congress Control Number: 2018956573 © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


School is a key site of childhood. As a designed space, it shapes childhood experiences and relationships. It is a space where pedagogic techniques and disciplinary practices were developed as technologies of governance in the nineteenth century and, thus, as David Hamilton (1989) noted, the modern classroom was invented, together with a teacher, furniture, texts and teaching aids, as a site of mass production and social efficiency. The book Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance explores the interrelationship between material design and technologies of governance and the production of the schooled child in the past, in the present and in possible education futures. The book is about governance as it is constituted, materialized and transformed in and through material school designs: from the material and aesthetic language of schooling to the design of the built environment, from spatial organization to the furnishing and equipment of classrooms and from technologies of regulation to the incorporation of tools of learning. In the book International Educational Governance, Karen Amos argues that there is a ‘vagueness’ regarding what we understand by educational governance; it ‘is not a unified or homogeneous concept. Its exact denotation varies with the context in which it is considered, be it theoretical or empirical’ (Amos 2010, p. xvi). Making Education is a contribution to an ongoing debate about the meaning of educational governance. Taking as its focus material school design, the chapters in the book address the issue of governance through analysing the intersection of politics, economics, aesthetics and pedagogical ideas and practices. Making Education analyses the role of material design in governing processes and considers how to act upon governance by material design on wishful, actual and ethical terms. All of the contributors were asked to use their scholarship to answer the key question: How does the making of education take place and shape through material school design and in particular: 1. What are the political and pedagogical visions embedded in material school designs? What do the material designs seek to govern? How do material school designs relate to certain forms and ideas of education as well as teachers and pupils? v



2. What makes up and goes into the design processes? Who and what are involved (e.g. ideas and handicrafts of politicians, designers/architects, pedagogical advisors, the local community, parents and pupils and, not least, money and materiality)? 3. How do adoption and use (re-)shape material school designs’ materiality and potentiality of governance? 4. What does the future of school design and governance look like? In the answer to this challenge, the book analyses and discusses governance through material designs from various perspectives and at different steps in the process of making education. Collectively the different contributors focus on design processes and on designers/architects and people involved in the planning of school design as well as on school leaders, teachers and pupils adopting, inhabiting and reshaping the material school design by their use of it in everyday school life. The chapters in Making Education present on data from Europe, Latin and Central America and the United States and relate to the past, present and future of governance and school design. The book begins with an introductory chapter on material school design and governance, where the two editors, Ian Grosvenor and Lisa Rosén Rasmussen, give an historical account of the multifaceted scope of governance by design and the material, bodily and sensory aspects involved. The editors also show the mutual effect of bringing the notions of material design and governance together as it sheds light on the wished for and actual governance that can be said to be involved in material school design but also on the complexity involved in this specific kind of governance. The making of material school design involves a number of actors and takes place in both the planning, construction and use of it. In relation to the unfolding of material school design, governance is not only about materialization or a one-way execution of an original idea; rather, the aim, form and sense-making of governance are in these processes continuously shaped and reshaped. Thereby, the study of governance by material design calls on complex analyses that in line with recent governance theories go well beyond the political decision-making processes involved (Bevir 2011), which is also the argument in the collection of chapters chosen for the book. The introductory chapter is followed by essays organized under three thematic parts. In the first part, Entanglements of Pedagogy, Politics and Material Design, Björn Norlin takes as his focus the emergence of the school yard in Sweden in the seventeenth and eighteenth century as a concept in formal planning, which was connected to a ‘pedagogization’ of the outdoor environment, which in turn enforced the design of new rules of conduct and extended thinking about school governance. According to Norlin, the making of the schoolyard meant a reconfiguration of the temporal and spatial preconditions of schooling and an expansion of ambitions to regulate pupils’ behaviour outside of the classroom walls. In Gonçalo Canto Moniz’s chapter, the focus moves to Portugal and the way in which school design changed during the Portuguese dictatorship of Oliviera Salazar (1926–1974). The core focus is on the developments, which led to democratic schooling for an authoritarian regime in the 1960s. In telling this story of politics, pedagogy and material design,



Moniz uses the experiences of individual Portuguese architects and their engagement with new design ideas from England to document the planning, execution of school design and its impact on governing behaviour. In the final chapter of this part, Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir and Torfi Hjartarson use interviews, observations, photography, policy and technical documents, drawings and writings to document how the design of classrooms in Iceland moved from a conventional model to a more open and flexible learning environment. This process involved the intersection of architecture, educational ideology, school governance and teaching practice. The part Making of Educational Places, Peoples, and Procedures/Practices consists of four chapters. Johannes Westberg investigates 66 school building projects in a region of Northern Sweden. In doing so, he draws attention to the gap between the national building plan and the reality of what is constructed at the local level. He shows how the influence of local decision-makers, local school designers, builders and workers impacts on the final school design and demonstrates the complex relationship between state governance, school design and the vernacular. The next two chapters relate to material school design in the United Kingdom and can be read as complementary to each other. The first chapter brings into conversation a practising architect, an academic and three doctoral students to explore the complex relationship between school buildings, their pedagogies and governance. Using a case study and the epistemological concept of ‘creative discipline’, the authors document the emergence of a design which was characterized by collaboration and resulted in a governing structure, which favoured students and not an institution’s need to control them. The use of case study also structures the chapter by Harry Daniels and Hau Ming. Taking as their starting point the idea of design as social practice, they systematically analyse the relationship of school space to the experiences of students, teachers and parents. By doing so, they expand the notion of post-occupancy evaluation and show how the intersection between vision, build and occupation governs the experiences of the end users. Finally, Noah W.  Sobe explores what he calls ‘the affective economy of schooling’. Looking at the attentive regimes and engagement paradigms that characterized American twentieth-century material designs of school, he argues that material design has actually produced experiences where children become bored. He uses this to explore how the material design of schooling and its related pedagogy govern the emotional behaviour of children through the creation of classroom environments, which produces the affective economy of schooling. The third part, The Future of School and Governance, approaches the issue of the future from two perspectives. In the first chapter, Inés Dussel demonstrates how the digital future is already shaping existing classroom interactions by drawing on evidence from Argentinian and Mexican classrooms and in particular the dominance of a singular artefact: the digital screen. She reflects on the invisible governance of technology and the possible orientations that new design and pedagogies could take in the future. Keri Facer ends this part by presenting a detailed case study of the United Kingdom’s Building Schools for the Future Programme and how different interests expressed competing visions of society. She demonstrates that the future already exists in the present and that there is a critical need for teachers and children



to be able to articulate and negotiate alternative futures emerging in their present. This agenda brings Making Education full circle because as the opening chapter demonstrates, visions of the future are always embedded and located in the questions of governance by design. The book ends with a reflective essay by the leading Danish historian of school architecture Ning de Coninck-Smith, which looks to the future of the study of material school design and its intersection with educational governance. School of Education, University of Birmingham Birmingham, UK The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University Copenhagen, Denmark

Ian Grosvenor Lisa Rosén Rasmussen

References Karin Amos, S. (2010). Preface. In S. Karin Amos (Ed.), International educational governance (pp. xi–xvii). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Hamilton, D. (1989). A theory of schooling. Lewes: Falmer Press. Bevir, M. (2011). Governance as theory, practice and dilemma. In M. Bevir (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of governance (pp. 1–16). London: SGE Publications LTd.


1 Making Education: Governance by Design ������������������������������������������    1 Ian Grosvenor and Lisa Rosén Rasmussen Part I Entanglements of Pedagogy, Politics and Material Design 2 Making the Schoolyard: Recess, Recreation, Play, and Other Pedagogical Incentives to Regulate Outdoor School Spaces in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Sweden��������   33 Björn Norlin 3 Democratic Schools for an Authoritarian Regime: Portuguese Educational and Architectural Experiences in the 1960s��������������������   49 Gonçalo Canto Moniz 4 Design Features of Icelandic School Buildings: How Do They Reflect Changes in Educational Governance and Daily School Practice?����������������������������������������������������������������������   71 Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir and Torfi Hjartarson Part II Making of Educational Places, Peoples, and Procedures/Practices 5 Beyond the Educational Visions of the State: The Construction of School Buildings in Rural Nineteenth-Century Sweden������������������   95 Johannes Westberg 6 Creative Discipline in Education and Architecture: Story of a School��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  119 Thomas Bellfield, Catherine Burke, Dominic Cullinan, Emma Dyer, and Karolina Szynalska




7 Design As a Social Practice����������������������������������������������������������������������  137 Harry Daniels and Hau Ming Tse 8 Boredom and Classroom Design: The Affective Economies of School Engagement������������������������������������������������������������������������������  157 Noah W. Sobe Part III The Future of School and Governance 9 The Digital Classroom: A Historical Consideration on the Redesigning of the Contexts of Learning ����������������������������������  173 Inés Dussel 10 Governing Education Through The Future������������������������������������������  197 Keri Facer Part IV Postscript 11 Thinking About Architecture and Governance: A Postscript��������������  213 Ning de Coninck-Smith


Thomas  Bellfield  is an architect and a doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Education University of Cambridge. His study is exploring participatory strategies in school design. Catherine Burke  is reader in History of Education and Childhood at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK. Dominic Cullinan  is an architect and is co-director of Studio Cullinan And Buck Architects Ltd. (SCABAL), London, UK. Harry Daniels  is professor of Education at Oxford University; adjunct professor at the Centre for Learning Research, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia; research professor at the Center for Human Activity Theory, Kansai University, Osaka, Japan; and research professor in Cultural Historical Psychology at Moscow State University of Psychology and Education. He has directed more than 40 research projects funded by ESRC, various central and local government sources, The Lottery, the Nuffield Foundation and the EU. His extensive publications include a series of internationally acclaimed books in sociocultural psychology. His current research projects concern children who go missing from school and the implications of new school design for children’s experience of schooling. Ning  de Coninck-Smith  Ph.D., is associate professor in the Department of Education, Aarhus University. Since the 1980s, she has been writing extensively about architecture and design for children. Together with Marta Gutman, she edited the volume Designing Modern Childhoods (2008), and her book Barndom og Arkitektur. Rum til danske børn gennem 300 år (2008) placed educational buildings in a wider context of spaces for children. She is currently working on a bigger study of the role of UNESCO in designing school in the postcolonial world after WWII and a minor study of the Danish toy producer Kay Bojesen (1886–1958) and his concept of play and childhood. Together with Lisa Rosén Rasmussen and Iben Vyff, she contributed to Volume 5 about the years after 1970 of Dansk skolehistorie, hverdag, vilkår og visioner gennem 500 år. xi



Inés Dussel  is researcher and professor in the Department of Educational Research, CINVESTAV, Mexico. Previously, from 2001 to 2008, she was director of the Education Area at Flacso/Argentina. She has published extensively on educational history and theory. She is currently studying the intersections between schools and digital visual culture and the histories of visual technologies in schools. Emma  Dyer  is a doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her study is researching reading and the spaces in schools where readers learn to read. Emma formerly worked for the BBC and as a primary school teacher. Keri  Facer  is professor of Educational and Social Futures at the University of Bristol where her work is concerned with understanding how education institutions and practices (schools, universities and informal learning) might adapt to, resist or influence to environmental, economic and technological change. Ian  Grosvenor  is professor of Urban Educational History at the University of Birmingham, England. Between 2010 and 2014, he was deputy pro-vice-chancellor for Cultural Engagement at the University and currently has responsibility for City and Cultural Liaison. He is author of numerous articles and books on racism, education and identity, the visual in educational research, the material culture of education and the history of urban education. He was secretary general of the European Educational Research Association (2008–2012) and is managing editor of the international journal Paedagogica Historica. Torfi  Hjartarson  is assistant professor in Pedagogy and IT at the School of Education of the University of Iceland. He is an experienced author of curricular materials and has been involved in city planning as a representative in the city planning council of Reykjavik. His research interests include school building design, dynamic learning environments, makerspaces and creative uses of digital technologies by young learners. Gonçalo Canto Moniz  is a PhD architect and assistant professor at the Department of Architecture of Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra. He is a researcher of the Cities, Cultures, and Architecture Research Group of the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra, where he has been researching and publishing about modern architecture of education and its transformation. Björn Norlin  is associate professor of History and Education at the Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Umeå University. He is also deputy director of the Postgraduate School of Educational Sciences, School of Education, Umeå University, and one of the editors of the Nordic Journal of Educational History (NJEDH). He is currently involved in several publications and activities concerning the history of education and violence.



Lisa Rosén Rasmussen  is associate professor at the School of Education, Aarhus University, in Denmark. She has her background in ethnology and has worked on the contemporary history of the Danish Elementary School. With an interest in the intercrossing of policy, pedagogy and everyday school life, she has researched and published on educational architecture, school space and the materiality of schooling. Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir  is associate professor at the University of Iceland, School of Education. She is a department chair of the Educational Leadership and Evaluation Programme in School of Education. Previously, she has worked as a teacher, consultant and administrator in education at school and municipality levels. Main research fields are educational leadership, school development and physical learning environment. Noah W. Sobe  is professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago where he also directs the Center for Comparative Education. His current scholarship looks at the history of engagement/disengagement in school, object teaching and educational merit and meritocracy. Prof. Sobe is co-editor of the journal European Education and currently serves as president of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) and on the Executive Committee of the International Standing Conference on the History of Education (ISCHE). Karolina  Szynalska  is a doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Szynalska is developing innovative technologies to assess the impact of the built environment on pupils. She is currently on sabbatical from her role as both a practising architect and a senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Hau Ming Tse  is a research fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford; invited expert for the Department of Education, UK; and member of the Technical Advisory Group for the OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments. Hau Ming is also an associate lecturer in the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University and was an associate director at David Chipperfield Architects until 2007. Hau Ming research interests explore the relationship between space, perception and the environment, and her work focuses on productive points of interaction and innovation between theory and practice in learning environments. Johannes  Westberg  is professor of Education at Örebro University, Sweden. Westberg organizes the Nordic Network for History of Education and is part of the editorial team of the Nordic Journal of Educational History. His most recent publication includes the monograph Funding the Rise of Mass Schooling: The Social, Economic and Cultural History of School Finance in Sweden, 1840–1900 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

List of Figures

Fig. 1.1 Fig. 1.2 Fig. 1.3 Fig. 1.4 Fig. 1.5 Fig. 1.6 Fig. 1.7 Fig. 1.8 Fig. 1.9 Fig. 1.10 Fig. 1.11 Fig. 1.12 Fig. 1.13

Fig. 1.14 Fig. 1.15

Bentham’s Chrestomathic monitorial school, 1815......................... 4 Classroom, Weoley Castle Nursery School, Birmingham, England 2001................................................................................... 5 Stairwell, elementary school, Birmingham, England n.d................ 6 Corridor, primary school, Birmingham, England n.d...................... 6 Stairwell, Bernasconi Institute primary school, Parque Patricios, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2017......................................... 7 Stairwell, La Cour Skole Frederiksberg, Denmark 1911................ 7 Corridor Frederiksbjerg Skole in Aarhus, Denmark 2017............... 8 The Apollo School in Amsterdam, Netherlands 1980s................... 8 Corridor with coats, Møllevangsskolen in Aarhus, Denmark 1950s................................................................................ 8 Toddler classroom, Montessori Center School, Goleta, California 2006................................................................................ 9 Wornington Board School. E. R. Robson School Architecture. Being Practical Remarks on the Planning, Designing, building and Furnishing of School-Houses (1874)........................................ 10 Wornington Board School. Ground Plan. E. R. Robson School Architecture. Being Practical Remarks on the Planning, Designing, building and Furnishing of School-Houses (1874)....... 11 Plan of the Parish Gemeindeschule in the Kurfürstenstrasse, Berlin. E. R. Robson School Architecture. Being Practical Remarks on the Planning, Designing, building and Furnishing of School-Houses (1874)................................................................. 12 Illustrations from the catalogue of ideas for Skolen i Sydhavnen produced by the municipality of Copenhagen, 2004....................................................................... 13 Architectural computer aided drawing of Skolen i Sydhavnen, Denmark 2000s............................................................ 14



List of Figures

Fig. 1.16 The corridor in the Gesamtschule Barmen promoted in the OECD publication Designs for Learning in 2001........................... 15 Fig. 1.17 Village Impington College Cambridgeshire, England 1939............ 17 Fig. 1.18 Corridor with pupils in Korsvejens Skole, Denmark around 1935..................................................................................... 19 Fig. 1.19 Playground divided into boys and girls, Nyboder Skole, Denmark 1920s................................................................................ 20 Fig. 1.20 The final frame of Zéro de conduit by Jean Vigo 1933................... 22 Fig. 1.21 Dream school workshop in the municipality of Copenhagen, Denmark late 1990s......................................................................... 23 Fig. 1.22 Building site with carpenters working on the construction of Nordre Skole, Denmark 1949..................................................... 24 Fig. 1.23 ‘An abandoned school’, Birmingham n.d. (c1960s)........................ 26 Fig. 1.24 Great hall, Somerville Road Junior and Infant School, Birmingham 2001............................................................................ 27 Fig. 1.25 ‘Adapting to the new’ Somerville Road Junior and Infant School, Birmingham 2001............................................................... 27 Fig. 2.1 Fig. 2.2

Fig. 3.1 Fig. 3.2 Fig. 3.3 Fig. 3.4 Fig. 3.5 Fig. 3.6 Fig. 3.7 Fig. 3.8 Fig. 3.9

The dome, the bell tower and the school in Linköping around the year 1700, illustration from Suecia antiqua et hodierna........... 37 A procession and a funeral ceremony on the church grounds in Västerås around the year 1700, illustration from Suecia antiqua et hodierna.............................................................. 42 Beja Secondary School, Axonometric, Luis Cristino da Silva, 1930–36............................................................................ 51 Coimbra Secondary School, Junta das Construções para o Ensino Técnico e Secundário, JCETS, 1938–1948...................... 53 Leiria industrial and commercial school, Cover of the project Dossier, Junta das Construções para o Ensino Técnico e Secundário, JCETS, 1950–55.......................................................... 55 Croft de Moura, “Pre Fabricação em Hertfordshire”, Arquitectura, 61, 1957..................................................................... 59 Mem Martins School, Portugal, primary school pilot-project, Arquitectura 98, 1964...................................................................... 61 Preparatory school pilot-project, plans, GTSCE (Augusto Brandão), 1966................................................................ 63 Preparatory school pilot-project, two different site-plans, GTSCE (Augusto Brandão), 1966................................................... 65 P3 Prototype project, two classrooms per floor and a multivalent room, plans, Maria do Carmo Matos, DGCE, 1970.................................................................................... 66 P3 Prototype project, 6 classrooms per floor and a multivalent room, Maria do Carmo Matos, DGCE, 1970.................................. 67

List of Figures


Fig. 4.1

Icelandic school inaugurated in 1930: Decorated entrance, hallway, and playground, Iceland 2015........................................... 74 Fig. 4.2 Model of a conventional setup of classrooms along narrow hallways, created 2011........................................................ 75 Fig. 4.3 The insides of an extensive classroom assigned to woodwork, Iceland 2009.................................................................................... 77 Fig. 4.4 Facilities for sport and swimming, Iceland 2009............................ 78 Fig. 4.5 Model of clusters of classrooms with adjacent hallway areas, a small room for the teaching staff and break out rooms for multiple uses, created 2011........................................................ 79 Fig. 4.6 The insides of conventional classrooms in a school of recent cluster design, Iceland 2009............................................................ 80 Fig. 4.7 Spaces adjacent to a cluster of conventional classrooms, Iceland 2009.................................................................................... 81 Fig. 4.8 Conventional classrooms in cluster designed schools, Iceland 2009.................................................................................... 82 Fig. 4.9 Model of an open plan classroom with shared learning spaces for a large cohort of students and a team of teachers, created 2011..................................................................................... 84 Fig. 4.10 A centrally located library in an open plan community hall, Iceland 2010.................................................................................... 85 Fig. 4.11 Unconventional learning spaces and glass wall partitions, Iceland 2010.................................................................................... 87 Fig. 5.1 Fig. 5.2 Fig. 5.3 Fig. 5.4 Fig. 5.5 Fig. 5.6 Fig. 6.1 Fig. 6.2 Fig. 6.3

The national building plan’s vision for a school, built in stone, Sweden 1865..................................................................... 98 A layout of the rooms of the school in Tuna school district, Sweden 1846................................................................................... 105 Drawing of a school (including a sloyd room) intended for 64 children, Sweden 1878............................................................... 107 Drawing of a school in Skön school district, Sweden 1897............ 108 Chart of the social background of the workforce at school building sites.................................................................................... 110 Carpenters at a building site, slightly west of the Sundsvall region, Sweden between 1898......................................................... 110

Fig. 6.4

The academy from the outside, England 2012................................ 122 Ørestad gymnasium, Denmark 2017............................................... 125 An early iteration of the spin painting, which shows both the whole school and contents and arrangement of a Superstudio............................................................................... 129 The conclusive spin painting........................................................... 130

Fig. 7.1 Fig. 7.2 Fig. 7.3

Educational model for new learning spaces.................................... 143 School A: Concept Sketch for open plan learning zones................ 146 School A: Organisational and typology concept............................. 147


List of Figures

Fig. 7.4 Fig. 7.5 Fig. 7.6 Fig. 7.7

School B: Learning zone concept.................................................... 149 School B: Heart space concept........................................................ 150 School C: Learning zone sectional perspective............................... 152 School C: Learning zone concept.................................................... 153

Fig. 8.1

Montessori demonstration classroom, education exhibits at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, USA 1915............ 161 Crow Island classroom, Winnetka Illinois, USA 2011.................... 165

Fig. 8.2 Fig. 9.1 Fig. 9.2 Fig. 9.3 Fig. 9.4 Fig. 9.5 Fig. 9.6

Classroom at the College of Humanities and Sciences-UNAM (Colegio de Humanidades y Ciencias, CCH-UNAM), Mexico, circa 1980.......................................................................... 179 Classrooms with obstructed views. College of Humanities and Sciences – Azcapotzalco, Mexico City 2016............................ 181 Agrarian School No.1, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina 2014................................................................................ 186 One netbook per one child project in Colegio Sarmiento, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina 2011........................................ 187 Screens in the playground. Argentina 2015..................................... 190 Stunning views. School No. 6, Laguna Escondida, Province of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina 2014................................................ 191

Chapter 1

Making Education: Governance by Design Ian Grosvenor and Lisa Rosén Rasmussen

Abstract  Material school design can be seen as embedded with the wished-for ideas of pupils and teachers, the idealised school of architects and designers as well as of the state’s need to produce desirable future citizens and societies. Material school designs can also be seen as being involved in shaping bodies, social categories and more generally the overall experiences of school and education. In this chapter, the notions of material school design and governance are brought together and discussed so as to understand how they interrelate, how governance is executed through material school design but also how the aim, form and sense-making of governance are continuously shaped and reshaped through the processes of development, delivery and occupation. The analysis in the chapter works through theoretical reflections and empirical examples across time and space and shows how governance by material school design can be seen to be high on the political agenda, often directed towards the pupil body and working through emotional and sensuous means. Drawing on Tim Ingold’s notion of ‘making’, the understanding of the coming into being of material school design is extended to include both processes of planning, construction and use. Through this lens, the importance of the often multiple number of human and physical actors is also pointed out. The chapter concludes that when it comes to the making of education, governance by design can be seen as processes where politics, economics, aesthetics and pedagogical ideas and practices continuously intersect and interact.

I. Grosvenor School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK e-mail: [email protected] L. R. Rasmussen (*) School of Education, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



I. Grosvenor and L. R. Rasmussen

Material Design and Pedagogy In 1874 the English Home and Colonial School Society published Hints on School Building and stated in a section entitled ‘The School Room. 1. Its influence’: Teachers are so often engaged with subjects of instruction, methods of teaching, and other departments of school-work, as to overlook the importance of the school-room as a building, and in consequence bestow upon it little attention. This is a great mistake. A child is educated as much, and not infrequently more, by the circumstances in which it is placed as by any direct efforts on the part of parents or teachers. (Reynolds 1874, p. 74)

Some 70  years later, a group of American teachers concluded in a report about schooling in the state of Texas that: Teachers and educators in general understand the school plant as a building that provides shelter from the weather … It is of the greatest importance to them in their work to grasp the significance of the complete school plant as an instrument of education even greater in possibilities than text books and laboratory supplies … The plant is a school for teaching; its value must be measured in terms of increased teaching effectiveness. (quoted in Stillman and Cleary 1949, pp. 40–41)

It should come as no surprise then that the international architect and lecturer Thomas Markus wrote in the late 1990s that: … [control] is in the buildings which were adapted or purpose built, the space thus created, and the material contents of this space – furniture and equipment. Above all, it is in the order imposed on the human bodies in this space, down to their tiniest gestures, including the gaze of the eyes. (Markus 1996, p. 12)

Markus was writing about the material evidence of nineteenth-century schools and how in the design there was a fixity of form and space and an emphasis on control of movement and visual surveillance. His reading of the school as a text was shaped by his concern with exploring the relationship between power and social process. For Markus, schools were social objects and as such also embodied Foucault’s idea of disciplinary power. Schools were designed: … to permit an internal, articulated and detailed control – to render visible those who are inside it; in more general terms, [the] … architecture … would operate to transform individuals: to act on those it shelters, to provide a hold on their conduct, to carry the effects of power right to them, to make it possible to know them, to alter them. (Foucault 1977, p. 172)

Governance, in this sense, was concerned with producing through design, what Foucault termed ‘docile bodies,’ it ‘designated the way in which the conduct of individuals or of groups might be directed’. Architecture functioned as a disciplinary technology and within designed spaces ‘secreted a machinery of control’ (Foucault 1982, pp. 221–2). Of course, it is one thing to make claims for how design created and managed ‘the human soul,’ but how was this process made manifest? In terms of origins, Nikolas Rose has argued that the process was associated with the emergence of the human sciences and their ‘conceptual systems … their languages of analysis and explanations …, the ways of speaking about human conduct that they constituted’

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which ‘provided the means whereby human subjectivity could enter the calculations of authorities’. The subjective features of human life became elements ‘within understandings of … the prison, the school, the factory’, and the ‘new vocabularies provided by the sciences of psyche’ enabled ‘the aspirations of government to be articulated in terms of the knowledgeable management of the depths of the human soul’ (Rose 1990, p. 7). Roy Kozlovsky has looked at the convergence of ‘the new education’ and ‘new architecture’ in the post-war period and shows how classrooms and playgrounds were intended to incite children to become playful and self-­ motivated. Kozlovsky relates it to what Rose calls a broader shift in modes of knowledge and relations of power and puts it forward as an example of how this also involved matters of architecture and space in education (Kozlovsky 2010). It implied an understanding of the subject in psychological terms, not merely disciplining the body but acting upon its interiority. Understanding how ideas about education and childhood circulated, had traction and became embedded in consciousness and professional action is important in helping us appreciate the genealogy of ideas, but we still need to see the evidence of control made real, and we need to see and understand how design shaped the ‘theatre of human activity’ that was a school (Frankl 1914, p. 27).

Control Made Manifest: Visualising the Schooled Body Place a child in a school, and they are transformed into a schooled child. The development of a sense of the embodied self is dependent on an interaction with objects and other bodies: ‘the body is … where it all begins: as soon as one wonders what, where, or who one is, one looks to the body for the answers’ (van Alphen 1992, p. 114). This interaction involves the child attending to the motions and posture required to perform specific tasks and roles. It is an experience, which is sensory as the child absorbs information external to themselves. They inhabit the school/world intellectually, psychologically and physically through the experience of environmental encounter. Like a building the child’s body is treated as an object to be dominated and controlled. The production of this schooled body was central to Jeremy Bentham’s nineteenth-century panopticon or inspection-architecture principle, for ‘managing the poor’. Bentham proposed a design for a 12-sided Chrestomathic monitorial school (Fig. 1.1) which had seats for 900 boys taught by a single master surrounded by 6 pupil monitors and where through the use of ‘a simple architectural contrivance’ of a symmetrical schema pupils would be aware that they were under constant surveillance. Bentham believed that the ‘sentiment of an invisible omniscience’ could not fail to ‘materially improve the influence of the teacher in a seminary of instruction’ and thereby the ‘wellbeing’ of pupils (Gallhofer and Haslam 1996, pp. 16–27; Markus 1993, pp. 68–69). Bentham’s inspection-architecture principle still remains a part of modern design (Fig. 1.2). School stairs and corridors are designed to enable the child’s movement, a movement which is choreographed by architects (Figs. 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 and 1.9).


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Fig. 1.1  Bentham’s Chrestomathic monitorial school, ‘Place Papers’ 60. Reproduced with the permission of the British Library

Stairs lift up bodies or bring them down, and design encourages particular positions to be adopted. The enclosing balustrades (or walls) of a flight of stairs ‘control’ the ‘user’s movement through the space, and the dimensions of the risers and treads strictly govern the cadence of gait’ (Templer 1992, p. 23). Stairs with a landing offer the possibility of a space and time to pause. Regular patterns and routines of movement in effect make spaces familiar to children; they begin to inhabit and incorporate the space: Inhabiting is an act of incorporation; it is a situation of active, essential acquisition. Incorporation is the initiative of the active body, embracing and assimilating a certain sphere of foreign reality to its own body (Lang 1985, p. 202).

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Fig. 1.2  Classroom, Weoley Castle Nursery School, Birmingham, England 2001. Copyright Paulo Catrica

Putting the body in the centre, Henri Lefebvre similarly writes about dressage as a form of disciplining through rhythmic activity. Spatial and temporal enclosures direct the rhythmic activity, whereby the body is broken or bent into space (Lefebvre 2007, pp. 38–45). In this approach, the rhythm of school can be seen as established in the incessant interaction between pupils, teachers, flights of stairs, corridors, desks and tables, combined with timetables and rules for how and where to be allowed to move around. Thereby school designs become active in bending or breaking bodies into space, making them part of school and part of becoming pupils and teachers according to existing norms (Gilman 2018). Architecture, as the American photographer Richard Ross visually argued in Architecture of Authority (2007), ‘is not necessarily an innocent act of creativity’. A confessional in a Catholic Church, he argued, and an interview room at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters ‘share the same intimate dimensions. They are both uncomfortably tight spaces constructed to force people together, to extract a confession in exchange for some form of redemption’ (Ross 2007, flyleaf). Ross’ panorama of authoritarian imagery includes a photograph of the Montessori circle at the school his children attended (Fig. 1.10). The white circle on the floor contradicts the open classroom approach of the Montessori method as John MacArthur notes in an accompanying essay: ‘Circle time can function not only as a summing up at the end of the day’s activities but also as a kind of formal consent by


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Fig. 1.3  Stairwell, elementary school, Birmingham, England n.d. Reproducec with the permission of the Library of Birmingham, Public Works Department WKB11 4632

Fig. 1.4  Corridor, primary school, Birmingham, England n.d. Reproduced with the permission of the Library of Birmingham, Public Works Department WKB11 4702

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Fig. 1.5  Stairwell, Bernasconi Institute primary school, Parque Patricios, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2017. Photograph by Ian Grosvenor

Fig. 1.6  Stairwell, La Cour Skole Frederiksberg, Denmark 1911. Source: Frederiksberg Stadsarkiv

Fig. 1.7  Corridor Frederiksbjerg Skole in Aarhus, Denmark 2017. Source: Virklund Sport

Fig. 1.8  The Apollo School in Amsterdam, Netherlands 1980s. Photograph by Herman Hertzberger

Fig. 1.9  Corridor with coats, Møllevangsskolen in Aarhus, Denmark 1950s. Source: Den Gamle Bys billedsamling, copyright Hammerschmidt Foto

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Fig. 1.10  Toddler classroom, Montessori Center School, Goleta, California 2006. Copyright Richard Ross

the kids to being in school at all’ and Ross ‘seems to ask, not without irony: Does the circle have to be literally drawn to make the point about fitting into a system’ (MacArthur 2007, p. 10).

Designing Schools: Powering Dreams and Ideals Markus and Cameron (2002) have pointed to the influence of written texts in determining design, and there is a long history of design guides either written by, or at least for, architects. These prescriptive guides were related to building types, and the genre has flourished since 1800 (Markus and Cameron 2002, pp. 32–36). The


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Fig. 1.11  Wornington Board School. E. R. Robson School Architecture. Being Practical Remarks on the Planning, Designing, building and Furnishing of School-Houses (1874)

already mentioned Hints on School Building (1874) is an example of a ‘model building type’ based on pedagogy. Other guides were produced by architects with an established reputation for designing schools such as Henry Barnard in the United States in 1848 and E.R. Robson in England in 1874. Robson, the first architect of the London School Board, laid down a number of design rules for the new elementary schools in the capital following the Education Act of 1870. Essentially, all classrooms had to be entered from a central schoolroom, and boys and girls were to be segregated as much as possible. Wornington Road Board School, which he designed in 1874, illustrates elements of these principles (Figs. 1.11 and 1.12). The whole of the ground floor accommodation was devoted to infants and babies. Above the infants covered playground were two departments on separate floors, one for boys and one for girls. Each floor had its own central schoolroom and classrooms. There were separate playgrounds and entrances for boys and girls. The entrances were on different streets (Robson 1874, pp. 325–27). Robson’s design ideas for the elementary schools drew on his extensive travels in Europe and North America in the 1870s (Burke and Grosvenor 2013) and his authoritative guide School Architecture: Being Practical Remarks on the Planning, Designing, Building and Furnishing of School-Houses (1874) includes over 300 woodcuts of school views, plans and educational furniture. The plans offer a catalogue of design ideas for organising school spaces and managing the movement and behaviour of pupils. It includes the plan of the Parish Gemeindeschule in Kurfurstenstrasse, Berlin (Fig. 1.13), which Robson visited, and we can see the same

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Fig. 1.12  Wornington Board School. Ground Plan. E.  R. Robson School Architecture. Being Practical Remarks on the Planning, Designing, building and Furnishing of School-Houses (1874)

gender principles in operation with separate entrances, classrooms, corridors and stairs. The regulation and ordering of spaces was also associated with legislative texts. In England the minutes of the Committee of the Council on Education from 1840 onwards included type plans for schools, and this tradition continued into the twentieth century with official design guides being issued by the Ministry of Education between 1949 and 1963. More recently, the James Review commissioned in 2011 recommended that all new school buildings in England ‘should be based on a clear set of standardised drawings and specifications that will incorporate the latest thinking on educational requirements and the bulk of regulatory needs’ and the drawings would cover ‘the layouts and dimensions of spaces and walls, and details of how different materials and components will be fixed together’ (James 2011, p. 52). Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space and especially his notion of conceived space (Lefebvre 1991[1971]) offers another critical approach to the issue


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Fig. 1.13  Plan of the Parish Gemeindeschule in the Kurfürstenstrasse, Berlin. E.  R. Robson School Architecture. Being Practical Remarks on the Planning, Designing, building and Furnishing of School-Houses (1874)

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of governance by design. In Lefebvre’s words conceived space is defined as ‘a place for the practices of social and political power; in essence, it is these spaces that are designed to manipulate those who exist within them’ (Lefebvre 1991, p. 222). Conceived space has to do with the planning of space, most often but not exclusively carried out by politicians, bureaucrats and architects. In her work on Henri Lefebvre and education, Sue Middleton suggests to look at codified visualisations when analysing the planning of educational space. Middleton describes visual codifications as representations of conceived space and mentions flowcharts, boxes on timetable charts and blueprints of school buildings as examples (Middleton 2014, p. 11). In the municipality of Copenhagen, the planning of school architecture in the new century has taken place through a process called ‘outline programme proposals’ including complex networks and workshop activities of municipal consultants, practitioners and various experts. In this process, the educational logics of the new schools would most often be formulated and visualised in colourful ‘catalogues of ideas’. In a ‘catalogue of ideas’ produced for a school later built on the forefront of the city harbour, the architectural space was expected ‘to create places for spontaneous activities, democratic spaces where the feeling of ownership and social experiences would create desirable norms’. The catalogue showed drawings of a school placed on undulating terrain and with deliberately erased borders. It described the desired school building as a move away from the traditional enclosed school, letting the public into the school and opening up the city for the pupils. The catalogue also included drawings of pupils sailing in kayaks, diving and fishing in between the school buildings (Fig. 1.14), linking it to texts about a pedagogy of authenticity and the use of the location next to the water (Bertelsen and Rasmussen 2018). In the architectural competition following the outline, the winning architects’ answer to the requests was to draw a building shaped as a large ship with specialised classrooms constructed as a small shipbuilding yard, playgrounds in between large ferry chimneys on the roof and offices placed on a bridge running across the main hall. Moreover, the buildings ground floor would have mainly glass walls, inviting the public inside (Fig. 1.15).

Fig. 1.14  Illustrations from the catalogue of ideas for Skolen i Sydhavnen produced by the municipality of Copenhagen, 2004. Drawings by Mikkel Frost, reproduced with the permission of CEBRA Architects


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Fig. 1.15 Architectural computer aided drawing of Skolen i Sydhavnen, Denmark 2000s. Reproduced with the permission of JJW Architects

The formation of space according to existing norms and visions is implicitly or explicitly present whether it is about the disciplined and gendered child in the grand school buildings of the late nineteenth century or the democratic and independent child in the open-plan school nearly a century later. In articles from the Danish magazine Arkitekten [The Architect], material school designs in the twentieth century are repeatedly used not only to support but also to promote new pedagogies (Kirkeby 2006, pp. 19–54). In relation to this, a belief in the ability of buildings, interiors and teaching aids to shape the ideal child as well as a new and better society is reflected. In 1938, the Danish architect Max Siegumfeldt wrote about the role given to architecture and artefacts in Switzerland: In addition to educating the pupil’s intellect, body, mind and character, the goal is to reach a higher level of humanity and thereby a new culture of society by introducing modern teaching aids such as slideshows, films and radio and, in particular, by the presence of care and health facilities in school. (Arkitekten 1938, p. 162, cited in Kirkeby 2006, p. 30, our translation)

Like in the design guides, Siegumfeldt writes about school buildings and their interiors in a way conceivable in terms of governance in the Foucauldian sense of the word, whereby instilling not only certain behaviours but also subjectifying pupils (and teachers) in accordance to particular categories and making them identify with certain ideals (Dean 1999, p. 32). In other words, notions of the ideal pupil, teachers and even the future citizen and society are embedded in and take form throughout the texts on material school designs. By bringing the Swiss example into the Danish magazine, Siegumfeldt’s article further shows the nature of transnational transactions as actualised in the case of Robson’s travelling and involved in defining the role and content of school b­ uildings.

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Fig. 1.16  The corridor in the Gesamtschule Barmen promoted in the OECD publication Designs for Learning in 2001. Photograph by Arne Brassat, 2009

Siegumfeldt’s article in the Danish architect’s magazine exemplifies the national and international circulation of ideas regarding the approach to material school design as engines of change and as tools for reforming school in the name of a changing society. Viewing school architecture as both ‘symbols of the ideal of a healthy childhood’ and ‘locations (both literally and figuratively) in which new truths about children, their needs and development were created’, Ning de Coninck-­Smith has worked on exchanges and encounters on the international scene that have been important for the understanding and material form of school architecture. She mentions journals, conferences, expert visits, study tours and international organisations as central to these transnational transactions that influenced the way of designing and thinking about the school of tomorrow (de Conink-Smith 2010, p. 714). In 1963–1964, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched the project Development and Economy in Educational Buildings (DEEB), arguing that school buildings were an integral part of educational development. Later it evolved into the Programme on Educational Building (PEB) under the office of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). Within this frame, publications distributed knowledge across its member countries about the latest developments in the area of school buildings (Fig.  1.16), facilities and furniture, creating common points of attention and summing up general recommendations (Papadopoulus 1994, pp. 74–76). In other areas of education, Kjell Rubenson has pointed to how the OECD ‘exercises discursive closure’ through its country reviews on selected topics carried out in co-operation with its member states, its


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synthesis of central policy issues and its publications (Rubenson 2008, pp. 244–5). Through their reviews and recommendations, DEEB and later PEB could also be said to exercise discursive closure whereby they take part in setting the agenda across their member states for how to understand, build, equip and use educational buildings. An example of OECD’s work in the field is the publication Designs for Learning. 55 Exemplary Educational Facilities released by the PEB in 2001. In the publication, schools and universities are portrayed with photographs and descriptions of what PEB calls their ‘original and imaginative responses to the new challenges of contemporary society’. The selection criteria for the schools presented were that they should ‘support and enhance the learning processes, encourage innovation and be a tool for learning and not be aesthetic monuments’. The schools should also be financially viable, and finally they had to be designed ‘to safeguard the wellbeing of the planet as well as the wellbeing of the individual’ and offer a ‘delight that lifts the spirit and affirms to both students and staff that there is more to education than simply acquiring the skills and knowledge to survive in an increasingly competitive world’ (OECD 2001, p. vii). The literature on material school design shows how an increasing number of people and authorities are involved in the development of such designs. A belief in the inherent capacity of material design to both support and enhance pedagogies has led politicians, school and teachers to invest not only money but also hopes and dreams into the design of schools (den Besten, Horton, Adey and Kraftl 2011).

Managing Emotions and Senses Through Design Juhani Pallasmaa describes architectural structures as spatial choreographies working on movement and behaviour but also on perceptions, imageries, emotions and feelings. As a spatial choreography, architecture according to Pallasmaa is able to guide action, facilitate, prohibit, encourage, prevent, invite, and inhibit it (2016, p. 38). In the decades immediately following the end of the First World War, a shift occurred in the design of schools as architects increasingly saw themselves as agents of change in a partnership with educationalists. Frank Pick, who in the 1930s worked to bring industrialists, artists, craft workers and architects together in England to promote modernist principles in design, was particularly interested in the visual environment of schools, and in a report on one of his school visits in Europe, he wrote of a school, in Hilversum, Holland: Great attention has been paid to the influence of the environment on the child mind. The classrooms are admirably lit … and considerable use has been made of bright colour. In one room, for instance, the doors were painted green and the desks were treated in a number of harmonising colours. (Barman 1979, pp. 168–69)

Pick became the chair of the UK Council for Art and Industry [CIA], and in 1934 the Council commissioned research into school buildings in Europe. For the CIA education was about ‘… providing “education for life”, that is, at preparing children, not only for work, but also for all other things that go to make a full life …’,

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but it also held that ‘education must supply stage by stage a cultural background suited to these objectives’. The research concluded that ‘… children’s surroundings, and the first impression thereby created in their minds, were important factors influencing their development and their outlook on life’, cited evidence received from teachers that the environment ‘cramps the growth of artistic appreciation in poor children’ and reported from Copenhagen, Geneva, Lausanne, Lyons, Rotterdam and Stockholm that ‘bright harmonious [colour] schemes in schools’ stimulated children ‘to appreciate colour and cleanliness and provide [d] happier surroundings for school work’ (Council for Art and Industry 1936, pp. 7–11; Grosvenor 2005, pp. 515–18). In 1943 Herbert Read, the public intellectual, poet, art educator, literary critic and anarchist, dedicated the penultimate chapter of his Education Through Art (1943) to the school environment. For Read: That the school should satisfy the requirements of scientific sanitation, ventilation and of hygiene generally, hardly needs to be mentioned. But aesthetics is also a science, and it should be no less a matter of course that the school should satisfy the simple laws which govern good proportions and harmonious colours. The school in its structure and appearance should be an agent, however unconscious in its application, of aesthetic education. (Read 1943, p. 291)

Prototype models of such a school, he believed, had already been realised in the United Kingdom and abroad, and in particular, he pointed to the Village College at Impington in Cambridgeshire (Fig. 1.17) as a school which provided ‘the essentials of an educative environment’, not perfect in every detail ‘but practical, functional and beautiful’ (Read 1943, pp. 292–93). The design of the school still works today and in 2015 was described as ‘an exemplar of humanist modernism: an essay in genteel grandeur’ (Bennett 2015).

Fig. 1.17  Village Impington College Cambridgeshire, England 1939. Dell & Warmington/RIBA Collections, RIBA 11174


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Post 1945 Australia and Britain also saw attempts to promote the aesthetic sensibility of children through the creation of tactile surfaces in schools (Franklin and Nichols 2017, pp. 205–18). The architectural historian Andrew Saint has argued that such interventions in the visual environment of schools was not so much about making ‘absolute cultural statements’ but ‘more as attempts, like the colour schemes and the visible landscape, to develop children’s visual experience’ (Franklin and Nichols 2017, p. 206). Design is also about furnishing learning spaces, and Amy Ogata has documented how the work of Darell Boyd Harmon into how natural light varied in the 1940s American classrooms led to new standards for lighting, colour and furniture design. Believing that optimal light would ameliorate classroom fatigue, Harmon conducted experiments with different classroom designs to calculate the ‘correct brightness ratio’ between a ‘localised visual task’ and ‘the entire field of vision’ arguing that light coming in over the left shoulder was bad for both posture and vision. A child looking at a blackboard involved the ‘fusion of extrinsic agents (light, desk, sign), forms of discourse (rules, tests, laws, norms) and physiological entities (eye, retina, optic nerve, brain, hands)’ (Otter 2008, p. 245) and for Harmon improving the visual environment also related to classroom surfaces, and he recommended the ‘blackboard’ should be ‘yellow-green’ in colour and that the desk surface be lightened from ‘a dark oak “school brown” to a natural wood finish with an asymmetrical grain’ (Ogata 2008, pp. 578–79; Mckie 2011, p. 15). Material school designs and the attempt to manage the child through the senses also have involved aspects of soundscapes and acoustic topographies (Burke and Grosvenor 2011; Darian-Smith 2017; Goodman 2017). In a study on the use of the book Sound and Silence: Classroom Projects in Creative Music in her own teaching practices, Joyce Goodman highlights how technologies of power work through acoustic topographies of schooling ‘as sound and silence become woven in the fabrication of bodies and selves through processes of subjectivity and subjectification’. Goodman’s study lies in continuation of Burke and Grosvenor’s article from 2011 where they underscore the history of the ideal soundscape of schooling. In their article Burke and Grosvenor point to the many material aspects of soundscapes, and as a concrete example, they demonstrate how quiet rooms were built in as possible retreat areas from the schools’ larger buzzing and hustling spaces in the new primary schools of the 1960s. They also point to the use of carpets and soft furniture as supporting the sound and thereby the wished-for activities in these smaller areas (Burke and Grosvenor 2011).

Memory and Testimonies of Control and Resistance The Austrian author Stefan Zweig remembered his body being schooled, physically and mentally, in the 1890s in Vienna: As soon as we entered the hated school building we had to keep our heads down … to avoid coming up against the invisible yoke of servitude … To this day I have not forgotten the musty, mouldy odour clinging to that building … We sat in pairs, like convicts in their galley,

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on low wooden benches that made us bend our backs, and we sat there until our bones ached … the sole purpose of school in the spirit of those times was not so much to bring us on as to hold unless back, not to help us shape our minds but to fit us into the established mould with as little resistance as possible, not to enhance our energies but to discipline them …. (Zweig 2009, p. 57)

For Walter Benjamin, a contemporary of Zweig, it was the discipline of the school bell and the indiscipline of the school stairways as a space that he remembered: … the bell … shrilly marked the beginning and end of lessons and breaks. The timbre and duration of the signal never varied. And yet how different it sounded at the beginning of the first and at the end of the last period – tocircumscribe this difference would be to lift the veil that seven years of school cast ever more tightly over each of the days that composed them … Between two peals of the bell lay the break, the second precipitating the shuffling, chattering uproar with which the mass of pupils, streaking through only two doors, surged up the narrow stairway from floor to floor. These staircases I … hated: hated when forced to climb them in the midst of the herd, a forest of calves and feet before me, defenselessly exposed to the bad odours emanating from all the bodies pressing so closely against mine … (Benjamin 1932, p. 338)

A century later, children were still identifying unregulated spaces such as corridors, stairways and toilets as noisy and threatening spaces (Fig. 1.18) and at the same time asking for the provision of ‘quiet spaces’ for ‘reflection, meditation and rest’ (Burke and Grosvenor 2003; Burke 2017).

Fig. 1.18  Corridors, stairways and toilets is throughout the 20th century remembered as potential spaces of chaos and unease.  Corridor with pupils in Korsvejens Skole, Denmark around 1935. Source: Tårnby Stads- og Lokalarkiv, B1309


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Fig. 1.19  Playground divided into boys and girls, Nyboder Skole, Denmark 1920s. Source: Uffe Mortensens Samling

The playground (Fig. 1.19) is another place central to the memories of schooling where pupils’ experience of school space becomes visible. In her book Remembering School: Mapping Continuities in Power, Subjectivity and Emotion in Stories of School Life, the Australian researcher Erica Southgate examines a number of written and oral school memories, and on this background, she argues that pleasure is most often referred to as ‘something that happens beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom’ (Southgate 2003). The examples she puts forward depict the playground as a ‘busy ant heap of people skipping rope, throwing basketballs, shouting and playing hopscotch’ and as ‘layers on layers of kids and games … Every corner filled with groups of kids playing knuckles or hand clapping or soccer with a can and skipping ropes, white rope ones, flashing and twirling’. Although stories of bullying also identify playgrounds as ‘battlegrounds with tennis-balls and footballs [falling] from the sky’, the memories of games and breaktime in the playground not only put the space into motion but also link it to enjoyment and excitement (Southgate 2003, pp. 155–156). The Swedish professor Anna Larsson argues that memories of recess activities tend to overshadow almost everything else when remembering school life (Larsson 2014, p. 126). To illustrate this point, she uses a citation from the Swedish actor and comedian Morgan Alling’s book on his childhood memories: At break we play soccer. Two large gangs running around kicking a beat-up tennis ball. I am all over the pitch and score again. I love the rush, the hunt, the sweat and the taste of blood in my mouth when we rush into the classroom. I don’t listen much to the teacher because in my mind, I ‘m still in the soccer field. (Morgan Alling in Anna Larsson 2014, p. 126)

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In a larger historical study of Swedish schoolyards, where Larsson is also involved, the playground of the twentieth century is remembered as a place for both good and bad peer relations but also as a place important to processes of categorisation regarding age, class and gender. These issues of categorisation could be about whether it is the older or the younger students that ‘own’ a specific part of the playground and if it was a boys’ or a girls’ game taking up a certain space. Sometimes these processes of categorisation are seen as overlapping with physical divisions of space into ‘boys and girls’ or into ‘age groups’, but most often it seems to be regardless of this (Larsson et al. 2017). Pupil’s memories of schooling and teachers’ memories of teaching are notoriously complicated (Cunningham 2000; Cunningham and Gardner 2004; Goodson et al. 2006). Testimonies, like all autobiographical texts, drape themselves across the space between history and fiction, but what such memories invariably illustrate is the impact that being produced as a schooled child has had on the emotions of individuals. As Benjamin recalled: ‘I experienced the antiquated forms of school discipline – caning, change of seats, or detention – the terror and the pall they placed me under … never lifted from me’ (Benjamin 1932, p. 336). Markus (1993) argued ‘the articulation of space’ always embeds relationships of power, ‘insofar as it governs interactions between users of a building, prescribes certain routines for them, and allows them to be subjected to particular forms of surveillance and control’ (Markus and Cameron 2002, pp. 68–69). So designed, so experienced, but as James Donald usefully reminds us while mechanisms of control were ‘designed … [it] should not be assumed that … [they] actually worked’ (Donald 1992, p. 44). Power is always accompanied by resistance. Children have the capacity to organise and self-­govern in the face of a regulative regime as the ‘poetic realism’ of the film Zéro de conduite (1933) (Fig. 1.20) so brilliantly depicts (Vanobbergen et al. 2014) and as Dave Douglass remembered of his schooling in the north of England in the 1960s ‘The school of the classroom was one of sullen resistance, or else electric struggle, clashing the desk lid, fifty at a time, rather instantly one after the other … bang, bang, bang, before the teacher could even turn round’ (Douglass 1989, p. 49). In other words, as Burke has argued, school buildings are far from being passive containers, simply containing the child (Burke 2005).

Making School: Stretching the Notion of Design Governance by design in the area of schooling involves aims of creating the ideal school and securing the right schooling of society’s future citizens. In shifting ways, design as we have demonstrated acts on the body in physical, sensuous and emotional manners. However, governance by design is far from a simple deal between political decision-making processes and architects’ drawings. Neither is it a unified, one-directional and necessarily predictable project. Rather it is a complex and creative process involving a multiplicity of actors.


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Fig. 1.20  The final frame of Zéro de conduit by Jean Vigo 1933

Juhani Pallasmaa has criticised the notion of design as being understood as a conceptual and problem-solving task developing rationally towards an aesthetic resolution. Pallasmaa sees the discipline of architecture as a counterexample par excellence describing it as ‘a hybrid and “impure” discipline, as its practice contains and fuses ingredients from conflicting and irreconcilable categories, such as material structures and mental intentions, engineering and aesthetics, physical facts and cultural beliefs, knowledge and dreams, means and ends’ (Pallasmaa 2016, p. 35). In his book Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture (Ingold 2013), Tim Ingold also wants to do away with what he calls the dominant and limiting conception of design, criticising it for being insensible to process and movement and blinding aspects of what really constitutes this ongoing process of creating. Similar to Pallasmaa’s understanding of design, Ingold defines it as a process of work rather than a project of the mind (Ingold 2013, p. 56). Oftentimes, this process of work becomes both literal and visible in the making of schools, especially when it comes to participatory processes where typically school leaders, teachers, pupils and parents are requested to take part in the development and planning of their school environment (Fig. 1.21). In the late 1990s, the municipality of Gentofte north of Copenhagen carried out a comprehensive scheme of renovation and erection of new schools to facilitate teaching in accordance with temporary currents in learning theory. When starting up the project, parents were invited to participate in ­workshops where the building of models in LEGO bricks was used as a tool for developing ideas and wishes for the future schools. In these workshops, the shape and forms of the brick, their colour and functionality inspired and limited the imagination of the

1  Making Education: Governance by Design


Fig. 1.21  Dream school workshop in the municipality of Copenhagen.  Artists helped children materialise their wishes for a perfect school environment through building small models out of cardboard, tinfoil and other materials at hand, Denmark in the late 1990s. Photographer Dorte Krogh

parents and the models they produced. In addition to visualising the process of work going into the development of school buildings, the example illustrates how the parents’ imaginations in Ingold’s words ‘met the friction of materials’; a meeting, which he claims, is always at play when dealing with designs and in fact makes it indistinguishable from the process of making (Ingold 2013, p. 73). At the heart of Ingold’s concept of making is an understanding of materiality echoing Karen Barad’s definition of it as ‘something agentive’ rather than as a ‘fixed essence or property of things’ (Barad 2007, p. 137). This means that a building is not a mere materialisation of a design. In the process of making, the very materiality adds specific shapes and meanings to the building. Take the model of the open-plan school brought to Denmark in the early 1970s. In many of the schools erected, the imported model met the industry of prefabricated building elements widely used in Denmark at that time. The prefabricated elements went well with the open-plan


I. Grosvenor and L. R. Rasmussen

Fig. 1.22  Building site with carpenters working on the construction of Nordre Skole, Denmark 1949. Source: Silkeborg Arkiv

model and turned it into a supposedly cheap solution at a point where legislative changes and with that a growing number of pupils required a whole lot of new schools to be built. Together with the extensive use of other materials popular at the time (such as needle felt carpets and hessian tapestry), the prefabricated building elements gave shape and tactility to the Danish open-plan schools, potentially active in the governance and creation of the progressive pupil (Rasmussen 2016, pp. 229–232). Ingold also argues that the outlines of a specific design will most likely change in the process of building (Ingold 2013, p. 48). Like Johannes Westberg shows in his work on schools in the Swedish region of Sundsvall, the original design might be effected by the tradesmen involved, their abilities, choice of techniques, skilful solutions or even sloppiness (see Fig. 1.22 and Westberg below). The design might also change due to economic, political or even demographic developments that occur during the process of building and that forces the management of the projects to alter the original layout. According to Ingold, the formative design processes go on after a building is raised and even after a building is handed over to its users. Again in line with Karen Barad’s fluid notion of materiality, Ingold argues that a building equals neither permanence nor solidity. Buildings are ‘part of the world and the world will not stop still but ceaselessly unfolds along its innumerable paths of growth, decay and regen-

1  Making Education: Governance by Design


eration, regardless of the most concerted human attempts to nail it down, or to cast it in fixed and final forms’ (Ingold 2013, p. 48). First of all, surfaces of new-built schools erode and might become darker. Furthermore, the use of the buildings causes natural decay. The way teachers handled the noise problem in the Danish open-plan schools of the 1970s by putting up provisional walls of cardboard boxes offers another and more specific example of how the use of buildings implies a continuous alteration of them. Later alterations of the same rooms followed the introduction of digital media, where new computer platforms were physically established and curtains put up to secure the visibility of the screens. All along with this, different pedagogies would over time structure the rooms and the pupils’ use of it. Thinking material school design along the lines of Ingold’s idea of ‘making’ influences the potential understanding and study of governance by design. Since Ingold directs attention to the creativity and importance of the messy practices that he claims give rise to real physical buildings (Ingold 2013, p. 59). Through the idea of making, the notion of design is stretched out in time and space, and we see not only the various actors involved in the governing processes, shaping the aims of governance and adding to the techniques through which to reach these goals. We also become aware of the complex relations between ideas and materiality involved in giving the governing processes their form and content. In these processes of making, ideas and ideals are not only translated or materialised but actively transformed and given their specificity, e.g. colour, touch or atmosphere. All important one might imagine when it comes to the matter of governing through bodies and emotions.

‘Buildings in Time’ The final chapter of Stuart Brand’s classic study How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built (1997) focuses on ‘The Study of Buildings in Time’. He argued that all buildings have ‘lives in time’, lives that are intimately connected with the lives of those who use them, with each building coming into being at a particular moment and in a particular context. School buildings are no exception. At the beginning of their life, schools are reflective of the ideas of their time, ideas about the schooled child and associated pedagogical intent and how these can be most efficiently be realised through design. They represent ever the modern. Ogata in Designing the Creative Child (2013) tells the story of the Educational Facilities Laboratories (EFL), a non-profit corporation funded by the Ford Foundation, in the United States. The EFL from the late 1950s through to the mid-­ 1970s brought together architects, educators, manufacturers and national and local officials responsible for building schools to encourage new ideas how buildings could respond to the needs of teachers, children and changing social conditions. Harold B.  Gores, who headed the EFL, observed that experimental classroom designs of the early post-war period no longer aligned with current notions about pedagogy and that:


I. Grosvenor and L. R. Rasmussen As instruction turns more and more to the individual, as children are grouped across class and grade lines according to their academic pace, the desire for space that can be divided or multiplied at will and at once increases accordingly. The time is fast approaching when not just a few but many clients will ask that the design of an elementary school be more than the ingenious arrangements of fixed and uniform quadrilateral boxes. (Ogata 2013, p. 136)

What Gores articulated was a fundamental problem that Stillman and Cleary had earlier identified in their book, The Modern School (1949): It is a sorry fact … that in the past educationalists and administrators have been too busy with their educational theories to be interested in the architectural problems which these evoked. They have required of architects buildings that would fulfil their latest theories, without pausing to remember that these theories, and therefore the buildings, would themselves be out of date in but a few year’s time’. (Stillman and Castle Cleary 1949, pp. 28–29)

As pedagogical ideas and practices change, some school buildings adapt and evolve, and some change their function and are transformed to serve other noneducational functions, while others are abandoned in time (Grosvenor 2017) (Figs. 1.23, 1.24 and 1.25). It is still not unusual to find state schools built in the late nineteenth century functioning as schools today. Their shape may have changed, either being enlarged to encompass specialist spaces or reduced in scale as space became redundant (Burke and Grosvenor, 61–2), but in all cases they represent Thomas Markus’

Fig. 1.23  ‘An abandoned school’, Birmingham n.d. (c1960s). Reproduced with the permission of the Library of Birmingham, Public Works Department WK B11 4608

Fig. 1.24  Great Hall, Somerville Road Junior and Infant School, Birmingham 2001. Reproduced with the permission of Paulo Catrica

Fig. 1.25  ‘Adapting to the new’ Somerville Road Junior and Infant School, Birmingham 2001. Reproduced with the permission of Paulo Catrica


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idea of ‘a building as a narrative’, all containing traces of previous pedagogical ideas, practices and materiality (Markus 1993, p. 5; Grosvenor and Lawn 2001, pp. 55–70). It is these traces which reveal the process of governance by design in time: A group of children at the Nursery School Association Exhibition examine a model of school designed by the author. Its general appearance, the way in which classrooms are ventilated and lighted, the colours used for walls and ceilings, the feel of the desks and the door handles will have a lasting influence on the lives of those children who use it. “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us”. This famous remark of Mr. Winston Churchill’s is particularly true in the case of school buildings. (Stillman and Castle Cleary 1949, p. 2)

References Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press. Barman, C. (1979). The man who built London transport. Newton Abbott: David & Charles. Benjamin, W. (1932). A Berlin chronicle. In B. Walter (Ed.), One-way street and other writings (pp. 293–346) (J. Edmund & S. Kingsley, Trans). London: Verso. 1979. Bennett, O. (2015) Bauhaus and moral purpose: The very model of modern community schools. The Guardian, 17 November. Bertelsen, E., & Rasmussen, L. R. (2018). Skoler til fremtiden. At bygge rum der forandrer. In M.  Martinussen & K.  Larsen (Eds.), Materialitet og læring (pp.  187–210). Hans Reitzels Forlag. Brand, S. (1997). How buildings learn. What happens after they’re built, revised edn. London: Viking. Burke, C. (2005). Containing the school child: Architectures and pedagogies. Paedagogica Historica, 41(4–5), 489–494. Burke, C. (2017). Quiet stories of educational design. In K.  Darian-Smith & J.  Willis (Eds.), Designing schools. Space, place and pedagogy (pp. 191–204). Abingdon: Routledge. Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2003). The school i’d like. London: Routledge. Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2011). The hearing school: An exploration of sound and listening in the modern school. Paedagogica Historica, 47(3), 323–340. Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2013). An exploration of the writing and reading of a life: The “Body Parts” of the Victorian School Architect E. R. Robson. In T. S. Popkewitz (Ed.), Rethinking the history of education (pp. 201–220). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Council for Art and Industry. (1936). Education and the consumer. London: HMSO, 1934. Cunningham, P. (2000). Narrative and text: Women, teachers and oral history. History of Education, 29(3), 273–280. Cunningham, P., & Gardner, P. (2004). Becoming teachers. Text and testimonies 1907–1950. London: Woburn Press. Darian-Smith, K. (2017). Noisy classrooms and the “Quiet Corner”: The modern school, sound and the senses. In J. Damousi & P. Hamilton (Eds.), A cultural history of sound, memory and the senses (pp. 71–90). New York: Routledge. Dean, M. (1999). Governmentality – Power and rule in modern society. London: Sage. de Coninck-Smith, N. (2010). Danish and British architects at work: A micro-study of architectural encounters after the second world war. History of Education, 39(6), 713–730.

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den Besten, O., Horton, J., Adey, P., & Kraftl, P. (2011). Claiming events of school (re)design: Materialising the promise of building schools for the future. Social & Cultural Geography, 12(1), 9–26. Donald, J.  (1992). Sentimental education. Schooling, popular culture and regulation of liberty. London: Verso. Douglass, D. (1989). C stream on Tyneside. In R.  Samuels (Ed.), Patriotism. The making and unmaking of British national identity (Vol. 11, pp. 43–56). London: Routledge. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. London: Allen Lane. Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and the power. In H. L. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow (Eds.), Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics. Brighton: Harvester. Frankl, P. (1914). Die Entwickungsphasen der Neuren Baukunst. In Principles of architecural history: The four phases of architectural style (pp. 1420–1900) (J. F. O’Gorman, Trans, 1969). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Franklin, G., & Nichols, D. (2017). Hans Cooper and Paul Ritter ‘Tactile environments for children in postwar Britain and Australia’. In K. Darian-Smith & J. Willis (Eds.), Designing schools. Space, place and pedagogy (pp. 205–218). Abingdon: Routledge. Gallhofer, S., & Haslam, J. (1996). Analysis of Bentham’s Chrestomathia, or towards a critique of accounting education. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 7(1), 13–31. Gilman, S. (2018). Stand up straight! A history of posture. London: Reaktion Books. Goodman, J. (2017). Experimenting with sound and silence: Sonorous bodies, sonic selves, acoustic topographies, and auditory histories of schooling. Paedagogica Historica, 53(5), 528–541. Goodson, I., Moore, S., & Hargreaves, A. (2006). Teacher nostalgia and the sustainability of reform: The generation and degeneration of teachers’ missions, memory, and meaning. Educational Administration Quarterly, 42(2), 42–61. Grosvenor, I., & Lawn, M. (2001). In search of the school: Space over time. Bildung und Erziehung, 54(1), 55–70. Grosvenor, I. (2005). “The Art of Seeing”: Promoting design in education in 1930s England. Paedagogica Historica, 41(4&5), 507–534. Grosvenor, I. (2017). From looking to seeing, or this was the future. In K. Darian-Smith & J. Willis (Eds.), Designing schools. Space, place and pedagogy (pp. 11–18). Abingdon: Routledge. Ingold, T. (2013). Making. Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. London: Routledge. James, S. (2011). Review of education capital. London: Department of Education. See Kirkeby, I. M. (2006). Skolen finder sted. Statens Byggeforskningsinstitut: Hørsholm. Kozlovsky, R. (2010). The architecture of educare: Motion and emotion in postwar educational spaces. History of Education, 39(6), 695–712. Lang, R. (1985). The dwelling door: Towards a phenomenology of transition. In D. Seamon & R. Mugerauer (Eds.), Dwelling, place and environment: Towards a phenomenology of person and world. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff. Larsson, A. (2014). Remembering school: Autobiographical depictions of daily school life in Sweden, 1918–80. In A. Larsson & B. Norlin (Eds.), Beyond the classroom. Studies on pupils and informal schooling processes in modern Europe. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Larsson, A., Norlin, B., & Rönnlund, M. (2017). Den svenska skolgårdens historiea. Skolans utemiljö som pedagogisk och social rum. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. Lefebvre, H. (1991[1974]). The production of space. London: Blackwell. Lefebvre, H. (2007). Rhythmanalysis, space, time and everyday life. London: Continuum. MacArthur, J.  R. (2007) Brooklyn to Bagdad. R.  Ross, Architecture of authority (New York: Aperture) 7–13. Markus, T. A. (1993). Buildings and power. Freedom and control in the origin of modern building types. London: Routledge. Markus, T. A. (1996). Early nineteenth century school space and ideology. Paedagogica Historica, 32(1), 9–50.


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Markus, T. A., & Cameron, D. (2002). The words between the spaces. Buildings and language. London: Routledge. Mckie, R. (2011, May 5). Mood lighting in the classroom helps pupils become brighter. The Observer, 15. Middleton, S. (2014). Henri Lefebvre and education: Space, history, theory. London: Routledge. OECD. (2001). Designs for learning. Paris: OECD Programme on Educational Building. Ogata, M. (2008). Building for learning in postwar American Elementary Schools. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 67(4), 578–579. Ogata, M. (2013). Designing the creative child. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Otter, C. (2008). The Victorian eye. A political history of light and vision in Britain, 1800–1910. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Pallasmaa, J. (2016). Geometry of movement as the genesis of form: The material and immaterial in architecture. In M. Kanaani & D. Kopec (Eds.), The Routledge companion for architecture design and practice (pp. 35–44). New York: Routledge. Papadopoulus, G. S. (1994). Education 1960–1990: The OECD perspective. Paris: OECD. Rasmussen, L. R. (2016). Fra klasseværelse til læringslandskab. In N. R. Jensen & H. Dorf (Eds.), Studier i pædagogisk sociologi (pp. 219–242). Aarhus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag. Read, H. (1943). Education through art. London: Faber and Faber. Reynolds, S. (1874). Hints on School Building and on the Management and Superintendence of Infant Schools by Teachers, Committees, Patrons and Visitors (London: The Home and Colonial School Society, 1863, Second Edition). Robson, E. R. (1874). School architecture: Being practical remarks on the planning, designing, building and furnishing of school houses. London: John Murray. Rose, N. (1990). Governing the soul. The shaping of the private self. London: Routledge. Ross, R. (2007). Architecture of authority (pp. 7–13). New York: Aperture. Rubenson, K. (2008). OECD education policies and world hegemony. In R. Mahon & S. McBride (Eds.), The OECD and transnational governance. Vancouver: UBC Press. Southgate, E. (2003). Remembering school. Mapping continuities in power, subjectivity, & emotion in stories of school life. New York: Peter Lang. Stillman, C. G., & Castle Cleary, R. (1949). The modern school. London: The Architectural Press. Templer, J. (1992). The staircase: Histories and theories. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. van Alphen, E. (1992). Francis bacon and the loss of self. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Vanobbergen, B., Grosvenor, I., & Simon, F. (2014). Zéro de conduit and the space of revolt. Paedagogica Historica, 50(4), 443–460. Zweig, S. (2009) The world of yesterday (A. Bell, Trans). London: Pushkin Press.

Part I

Entanglements of Pedagogy, Politics and Material Design

Chapter 2

Making the Schoolyard: Recess, Recreation, Play, and Other Pedagogical Incentives to Regulate Outdoor School Spaces in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Sweden Björn Norlin

Abstract  The present chapter examines early modern schooling in Sweden and more precisely how spatial conceptualizations of the outdoors (with regard to the use of it for recess, physical activity, recreational play, and other educational activities) were accumulated in formal curricula. The chapter draws attention to the introduction and origins of ideas connected to the use of the outdoors, the link between outdoor activities and specific school subjects, and the influence of dominating discourses. Theoretically, it expands on a Lefebvrian understanding of the production of social space and on his analytical distinction between different dimensions in this process. The chapter argues that this emergence of the schoolyard as a concept in formal planning was connected to a ‘pedagogization’ of the outdoor environment, which in turn enforced the design of new rules of conduct and an extended thinking about school governance. The making of the schoolyard meant a reconfiguration of the temporal and spatial preconditions of schooling and an expansion of ambitions to regulate pupils’ behaviour outside of the classroom walls.

Introduction Ideas about how to organize schools’ outdoor surroundings for pedagogic purposes are often associated with the reform movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and with the overall modernization of education. The growing awareness of the importance of health and hygiene and the strengthened emphasis

B. Norlin (*) Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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on physical exercise and play along with ‘new’ notions about pedagogy, childhood, and the premises for children’s learning led to new requirements for how to materially condition sites for schooling. This had an impact not only on the architecture of school buildings but also on the arrangement of exterior areas and outdoor facilities (cf. Frost 2010; Willis 2017; Larsson et al. 2017). In this chapter, I will draw back the scope to early modernity and use the Swedish context as an example of how thinking about the outdoors became important for the spatial conceptualizations of schooling long before the modernization processes described above began. The chapter focuses on the introduction and origins of ideas connected to the use of the outdoors, the link between outdoor activities and specific elements of intellectual training, and the influence of dominating discourses. Particular attention is paid to ideas about physical activity, recess, recreation, and play as parts of schooling as well as the relation between academic subjects and the ‘pedagogization’ of the outdoor environment. In a way, it can be seen as the making of the schoolyard as a concept in formal planning or at least the establishing of important fragments of such a concept. Closely intertwined with this were efforts of school governance, in the sense that the gradual extension of schooling outside of the classrooms also required new regulatory means with regard to directing pupils’ behaviour.1

The Early Modern Educational Context In Sweden, as in many other parts of Europe, the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth meant a restructuring of education. Due to the Reformation and emerging state-building processes, new educational solutions were needed. The new Evangelical Lutheran Church was subordinated to the crown and incorporated into the state apparatus, and schooling became increasingly standardized as a part of the strengthening of this new state church. This period also saw an outgrowth of a new body of formal national instructions for schooling. The first regulation – penned in 1561 – was issued in the church law of 1571, and this was followed by new royal decrees in 1611, 1649, 1693, and 1724. These decrees are, together with school instructions issued locally, highly interesting sources because they mirror the gradual arranging of schooling into vernacular and stable forms. The school system that took shape during the first half of the seventeenth century would stay fairly intact up until the major school reforms of the early and mid-nineteenth century (Hallgren 1909; Hall 1921; Sjöstrand 1958; Sandin 1986; Rimm 2011; Norlin 2014, 2016). 1  This article is written as a part of the research project ‘The History of the Swedish Schoolyard: The Outdoor School Environment as a Pedagogical and Social Space, 1611–2011’, funded by the Swedish Research Council. It builds and expands on research previously published in the book Den svenska skolgårdens historia:Skolans utemiljö som pedagogiskt och socialt rum (co-written with Anna Larsson and Maria Rönnlund).

2  Making the Schoolyard: Recess, Recreation, Play, and Other Pedagogical Incentives…


The reorganization of the ‘Swedish’ educational domain during the late sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries was, however, far from an isolated national commission. Even if the object was to achieve domestic organized schooling, the influence from German-speaking areas and their Lutheran educational thinkers was extensive. Many of the architects behind the early school decrees – most of them were bishops – were well acquainted with the educational goings-on in continental Europe, and many of them had studied abroad. The main discourses and disputes affecting educational planning, like the controversies over school content and premises for learning between Neo-Aristotelians (advocating the classical heritages) and the dogmatic followers of Lutheran orthodoxy (with stricter religious views on knowledge), are best perceived as international rather than national in character (cf. Hall 1911; Sellberg 1979; Sellberg 2010).

 he Research Object, Sources, and Theoretical Approach: T Limiting the Scope of the Study This chapter focuses solely on state-governed education  – or the state grammar schools – administered by the church. These school forms – from 1649 including the trivium [Sw. trivialskola] and the upper secondary level [Sw. gymnasium]  – were not the only existing schools during the early modern era (cf. Sandin 1986). However, they quickly became the very core of organized Swedish education and are therefore apt points of reference. Furthermore, this chapter almost exclusively concerns the formal planning of schooling. The examined sources include the national regulations of 1561–1571, 1611, 1649, 1693, 1724, 1807, and 1820, a national commission report of 1760, and the local decree of the school of Västerås from 1628.2 This was a seminal school in the Swedish context and was the kingdom’s first upper secondary school. In addition to this, a small number of autobiographies and reports from local schools are used as supplementary, yet fragmented, sources. Like many previous studies interested in spatial and material aspects of past education (cf. Markus 1996; Lawn and Grosvenor 2005; Burke 2005; Gutman and de Coninck-Smith 2008; Burke et al. 2010), the present chapter expands on the view that the social practices, spaces, materialities, and objects of schooling must be handled as interrelated. By exposing the relation between, for example, architecture and its impact on social routines, or how different discourses activate and define the use of certain school objects or spaces, it is possible to achieve a deeper understanding of how schools operate (cf. Lawn and Grosvenor 2005, pp. 7, 145–162). With regard to the theoretical approach, this chapter links to a Lefebvrian understanding of the production of social space and to his analytical distinction between the dimensions spatial practice (perceived space), representations of space 2  The decrees are published in ‘Project til en förbättrad och förnyad förordning för trivial scholar och gymnasier i riket’ (1760), Hall (1911, 1939, 1944), and Hall et. al (1921–1930).


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(­ conceived space), and representational spaces (lived space). However, rather than examining the actual practices of the schoolyard (≈perceived space) or the outdoors as individually and/or collectively experienced (≈lived space)  – which would be quite impossible due to the nature of the existing sources – what is focused on in this chapter is merely what Lefebvre defines as representations of space, or conceived space (cf. Lefebvre 1991, chapter 1). It is the representations of schooling and the thinking about space, materiality, social activity, and the outdoors within the sphere of official regulations that are examined. This can be seen as a reciprocal process, a constant strive from the architects of school policy to, on the one hand, expand the formal notions about educational space and on the other hand to enforce the reduction of it by creating mandatory rules, ideal uses, etc. and thus supply it with dominant representations. Such a process can be seen as an intrinsic part of governing for statute-bound institutions like schools (cf. Lefebvre 1991, pp. 105–108, 281). Furthermore, it is in many ways anachronistic to talk about the schoolyard as a coherent concept in an early modern context. Even if the specific word [Sw. scolagordh] had existed for a long time and direct connections between schools and playgrounds appear in written sources at about the same time as the first national school decrees (SAOB, skolgård; lekplats), the concept was never articulated in an intelligible manner in the formal instructions during the studied period. Instead, the instructions mention various places, practices, and material objects such as recess, playgrounds, play, recreation, processions, (botanical) gardens, plantations, picket fences, and so on. These are all elements of the outdoor surroundings with links to certain aspects of the teaching and fostering of pupils – and ultimately of managing behaviour and thereby also bringing into being the ‘schooled’ child – but they are elements that only later would come together to form the foundation of a schoolyard concept with more common and stable connotations. In Sweden, it was not until the late 1800s that formal regulatory texts started to refer to the schoolyard in ways that resemble a coherent and modern notion (Larsson et al. 2017, chapter 3). Thus, what is examined in this chapter is fragments in the making of a concept yet to come.

The Early Modern School Setting and the Schoolyard Even though the focus of this chapter is on school instructions, there are certain very profound spatial and material characteristics of early modern schooling that resonate in formal planning and therefore need to be highlighted. First of all, the state grammar school was closely connected to the church, not only ideologically and with regard to teaching content but also physically. The schools were embedded in the urban church compounds and thus were part of more extensive sceneries, including the domes, churchyards/graveyards, bell towers, and various administrative buildings (see Fig. 2.1). The importance of constructing early modern schools in direct attachment to churches – symbolically integrating education into the ideological mandate of the state church  – has been noted in previous research (Hall

2  Making the Schoolyard: Recess, Recreation, Play, and Other Pedagogical Incentives…


Fig. 2.1  The dome, the bell tower and the school in Linköping around the year 1700, illustration from Suecia antiqua et hodierna

1911, p. 25). This created a fusion between the outdoor surroundings of the church and the school that had a strong impact on the schoolyard as an actual space. Not until the mid-nineteenth century and the emerging secularization of schooling and the architectonical standardization of school buildings would this close spatial connection loosen up (cf. Lindeberg and Trovik 1987; Larsson et al. 2017, chapter 3). The urban school, detached from the church in physical appearance as well as in the imagination of school planners, is thus a later invention. A second spatial, and at the same time social, characteristic was the formal ‘borderlessness’ of schooling during the early modern period. These institutions were semi-boarding schools, highly corporative in character, and the jurisdiction of their administrators was not limited to pupil activities inside the school building or


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even within the school’s premises. The legal responsibility also included the pupils’ whereabouts in their dwelling quarters as well as in town. In addition to this, there does not seem to have existed any distinct boundary between the indoors and the outdoors of schooling. The pupils appear to have had extensive freedom to make use of the schoolhouse. One of the reasons for this was that the pupils themselves – via prefects – were to ensure that the school building was maintained in good shape before, during, and after the daily sessions, as well as to prepare classes for the teachers’ arrival at the school. Under these circumstances, a schoolyard could never obtain a more modern position as a loosely regulated buffer zone between, on the one hand, the strict regulations of inner school life, and, on the other, a more independent world outside of the school, free from school rules and teacher supervision (Larsson et al. 2017, chapter 2). Third, the formal planning of these school settings was thereto characterized by the fact that they were designated only for men, young men, and boys and for boys who were supposed to become priests and other public servants (however, in actual practice the schools could house a quite disparate social accumulation of boys). Ideas about the characteristics of boyhood as well as of the cardinal virtues that applied to the mentioned professions – piety, self-control, loyalty to the crown and church, and so on – reflected on all formal levels of operation. Fourth, the regulation of the outdoors was intertwined with more general processes of school organizing, processes that led to a whole new way of administering national education. The schoolyard was just a small piece in an ever-growing puzzle that sought to govern the whole enterprise of schooling (cf. Norlin 2016).

 he Rhythms of a Space: Understanding the Schoolyard T and Its Patterns of Change Lefebvre’s rhythm analysis can be seen as a set of analytical tools added to his spatial theory that can be used as a starting point for gaining a better understanding of the schoolyard in relation to social activity, time, and change. Lefebvre’s idea is that an analysis of the various repetitive and sometimes contradicting rhythms that underlie day-to-day life (the cyclic rhythms of nature, the more linear flow of social life, and so on) can help to clarify the interconnection between space, time, the body, and the often hidden forces that steer social conduct (Lefebvre 2004). A way to see this in the present school context is that formal representations always strive to subject and harmonize the rhythms of schooling in accordance to its governmental aims (thus avoiding arrhythmia). Only by orchestrating time, space, and social behaviour in an apt way can schools operate harmoniously. If a new section, for example, an outdoor area, is acknowledged as a formal part of schooling, then it must be incorporated as smoothly as possible. This might require alterations of previous rhythms.

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There are spatial characteristics of the schoolyard that differentiate it from, for example, the classroom, and that make it respond to a different set of rhythms. To begin with, there are interesting resemblances between early modern schoolyards and monastery yards, resemblances that can be stressed when seeking to understand the schoolyard in relation to time and change. The monastery yards were first of all multifunctional, including an aggregation of different spatial sections with different functions, uses, and material features. Some were related to economic utility and daily maintenance of the monastery (e.g. patches or gardens for growing vegetables or plants for medical use), while others were designated for social activities such as outdoor studies, recreation, or contemplative practice. Certain sections could also be used as funeral sites or memorial places (Lindeblad 2010; Vreta 1998). This multifunctionality, which also applied to the schoolyard, also meant that they were multi-dynamic. Every section had its own history, pattern of change, and discursive links. Another crucial dimension for understanding the monastery yard and the schoolyard is that they are both outdoor spaces and as such exposed to the natural elements and seasonal changes. This subjects them to repetitive supra-rhythms and cyclic change. Seasonal variations have – especially in countries like Sweden – an immense impact on the material and social dispositions of schoolyards. Winter can, for example, profoundly set the preconditions for outdoor activity and can lead to arrhythmia. In addition to these supra-rhythms comes the arrangement of the more concrete organization of day-to-day school life and its social routines that structures the daily, weekly, and seasonal use of the schoolyard and its different areas (Larsson et al. 2017, chapters 2 and 9).

 aking Room for Recess, Recreation, and Play: Inventing M the Play Area There is something about recess that is so unobtrusive that it rarely gets attention in educational history research. Still, these temporal in-betweens are crucial for creating breaks in the formal texture of indoor studying and for triggering ideas about educational add-ons outside of the classrooms. There are of course very practical reasons for creating such timely breaks, namely, that the pupils – considering that the school day in the early modern schools started already at 5 a.m. and ended 12 h later (cf. National decree of 1561, p. 13) – would need to have time to eat meals between classes. But these breaks were soon also assigned to other activities and purposes. The instruction of 1561 (issued in the church law of 1571) was written by the first Lutheran archbishop in Sweden, Laurentius Petri, and has been regarded as the first national school instruction (even if it built on an older tradition of regulatory texts). It was influenced by Philipp Melanchthon’s Instructions for the Visitors of


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Parish Pastors in Electoral Saxony of 1528 and combined a reformed religious and classical content (Hallgren 1909; Hall 1921). This first instruction did not include an explicit regulation of the outdoors as such, but it nonetheless expressed the necessity of recess, recreation, and play. Consequently, it introduced a daily, hour-­ long recess after lunch for the purpose of supporting such activities, along with time off for play and recreation on Sundays and public holidays. How the playing and recreational activities were conducted was supposed to be decided by the pupils themselves (National decree of 1561, pp. 13, 19). Play and recreation were, in other words, introduced as central concepts connected to the use of the outdoors, and they would hold such a central position throughout the early modern period. The subsequent decree of 1611 was more elaborate with regard to specifying the play element and its position in the schools. This instruction first of all included a plea for the creation of a designated section of the schoolyard for play. Second, it integrated play as a mandatory part of the training of pupils. One of the paragraphs stated: At the schools a space must be appointed as a playground and penalties set for anyone who either plays elsewhere or for those who without permission stay away from the playground at the specific time for play. One of the prefects should be present at the site to keep record of those who swear or attack others with insults and invectives. Otherwise, the boys will, as experience shows, in their games fairly easily learn to swear and curse. (National decree 1611, pp. 38–39)

Play was still central, but the instruction now also displayed efforts of regulating and controlling it. Governing thus became an issue related to specific notions about boyhood as something unruly and in need of supervision. This came to define the schoolyard as a gendered space (cf. Massey 2013). To swear or give fellow pupils degrading nicknames was, furthermore, something that was considered very severe. Such deviances from the school rules could result in incarceration, corporal punishment, or, if it was seen as blasphemy, expulsion from the school (Decree of Västerås 1628, p. 33–38; Norlin 2016, pp. 275–277). The decree of 1649 is generally seen as the most important instruction of the early modern period. It was highly elaborated with regard to the arrangement of educational practice, and it laid the foundation for a coherent school system. This instruction included a specific section on ‘holidays, games, and physical exercise’ and referred to Aristotle’s Politics as an influence. The instruction first of all stated that there should be set hours of recess for ‘innocent amusements and games’ as a part of the training. This could be conducted inside the school if the games were not too noisy; otherwise they should take place in an area specially designated for playing outside. Also, in this instruction supervision became an issue. The games were supposed to be supervised by prefects among the pupils, and the schoolmaster was also requested to visit the play area on a regular basis (National decree of 1649, pp. 91–92). In addition to this, there was also a clarification of what specific games were allowed on the school playground. It was, for example, stated that the games should not be ‘ignoble’, ‘saggy’, or ‘exhausting’ but ‘moderate’ and ‘noble’. Counted as such ‘moderate’ and ‘noble’ games were ‘ball games, moderate running games,

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etc.’, according to the instruction. There was also a clarification of the risks of playing. If it happened too often, it could lead to idleness; if it occurred too seldom, it might instead lead to sedulous reading among the pupils. Thus, to achieve the right frequency and balance was crucial. Playing also became integrated in the internal arrangement for punishing misbehaving pupils. It was, for example, stated that ‘nasty boys’ should be excluded from the games as a penalty for their nastiness (National decree of 1649, pp. 90–92). These three first instructions can be seen as a set of related, yet successively accumulating, ideas about recess, recreation, and play as mandatory parts of schooling and the outdoors. This is an example of how a new area was gradually introduced in formal planning, subjected to regulation, and made an immanent part of pedagogical practice. It can also be seen as an example of the simultaneous expansion and reduction of space intrinsic to the conceived dimension of Lefevbre’s trialectic. This meant a synchronization of time, space, and social routine and the introduction of mechanisms for managing behaviour through the design of rules. The instructions of 1693 and 1724 and the commission report of 1760 did not add anything new with regard to play and physical exercise. However, the instruction of 1724 clarified the responsibility of the town to provide schools with extended plots and/or to create plantations for the ‘recreation’ of school youth because the town was seen as benefitting from the school’s presence (National decree of 1724, p. 33). Regardless of the formal instructions and their sanctioned intentions about the outdoors, very little suggests that schoolyards before the year 1800 were physically prepared to house the activities ascribed to them in the instructions. Specially made sections dedicated to playing seem to have been absent, and pupils were left with whatever ad hoc place that was at hand. In local school records, one can, for example, find examples of seventeenth-century pupils getting caught for playing dice or playing with coins on the church grounds in their spare time (Hall 1944, p. 288), and autobiographies that treat schooling in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries include numerous examples of how the church grounds and even the graveyards were used during recess for play, pranks, and various other physical activities (Ödmann 1830, p. 85; Ahnfelt 1882, pp. 31–35; Stridsberg 1933, p. 11; see also Sprinchorn 1926, p. 8).

 rom Aiding the Intellect to Strengthening the Body: A New F Positioning of Physical Education Indications of an actual materialization of features connected to physical exercises and play appeared in Sweden around the year 1800. The decree of 1807, and later on the decree of 1820, marked a break with previous instructions on this matter. They were in harmony with the modernization of gymnastics and introduced a completely new discourse with regard to play and physical activities in formal planning.


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In Sweden, this was foremost manifested by the gymnastic model introduced by Pehr Henrik Ling (1776–1839). Ling’s model was built on four different branches – pedagogical, military, medical, and aesthetic – and was later on modified in various directions (Ljunggren 1999; Lindroth 2004). Instead of simply motivating physical elements as a means for recovering and aiding intellectual training – as was the classical motive  – this new current drew much closer links between active physical exercise, bodily strength, health, hygiene, and the physical preparation of pupils for the nation and its defence. This would soon come to dominate the thinking about physical outdoor activities and the schoolyard in formal planning and would give such elements a far stronger position in education than they previously had. This also brought pedagogical incentives that were strong enough to cause the material reconfigurations of schoolyards (Larsson et al. 2017, chapters 2 and 3). Examples of this emerging material reconfiguration are given in reports from local schools connected to a large survey that was launched by the so-called National Upbringing Committee of 1812. Several schools reported how fixed outdoor areas for physical exercise as well as advanced material equipment – including wooden structures and rope ladders for climbing, logs for balancing, etc. – were being constructed at the school sites (cf. National Upbringing Committee of 1812, reports from the schools of Linköping, pp. 36, 56; Norrköping, pp. 86, 95–96; Karlstad, p. 203) .

 he Outdoors and Theoretical Subjects: The Ground, the Sky, T and the Garden as Teaching Technologies There were also other elements attached to schooling and the academic subjects that gradually came to make use of the outdoors, elements that had little or nothing to do with play or physical activity. The early ceremonial use of the church’s and school’s outdoors (see Fig. 2.2) was, for example, connected to the training in music and singing. Unless pupils were part of the specific elementary class that only focused on practical mathematics and writing, they were required to take part in funerals and funeral processions, or as the decree of 1649 stated: ‘to escort dead bodies’ (cf. National decree of 1649, p. 53). These elements of schooling did not only have a

Fig. 2.2  A procession and a funeral ceremony on the church and school grounds in Västerås around the year 1700, illustration from Suecia antiqua et hodierna

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religious motive but were also closely attached to the economic administration of early modern schools and were important as a source of funding to run them (Sandin 1986, pp. 126–128; Larsson et al. 2017, chapter 2). Several of the early modern instructions also display a clear link between the teaching in advanced mathematics and physics (including astronomy, geometry, and geodesy) and the outdoors. If the teacher had the time and opportunity, he was supposed to make use of the outdoor environment for studying stars and star constellations on clear nights and for drawing up measures, forms, and distances on the ground (National decrees of 1693, p. 14, and 1724, p. 49; The commissioner decree of 1760; National decrees of 1807, p. 103). A royal letter from 1785 – which was reinforced in the decree of 1807 – also commanded that meteorological observations were to be conducted outdoors, and school records from about the same time give examples of school excursions connected to gnomonics, the study of the sun and the mastering of time (Ödmann 1830, pp.  97–98; National decrees of 1807, p. 103). The ground as well as the sky thus became important pedagogical aids – aids that, with regard to the spatial opportunities, or affordances, that they provided, surpassed all other teaching tools at the time. The strongest link between teaching and the outdoors was found in connection with the training in botany and medicine. Plots and patches for growing vegetables seem to have been established parts of the schools’ domestic economies for many years, but around the year 1600, one of the first known botanical school gardens in Sweden was created at the school of Västerås. According to the school records from this time, the garden contained fruits and berries, root vegetables, herbs, aromatic plants, and flowers, including apples, pears, cherries, plums, currants and gooseberry bushes, onions, carrots, radishes, parsnips, black radishes, dill, chervil, watercress, savoury, parsley, ‘fragrant’ spices, sage, marigold, velvet flower, violets, carnations, peonies, roses, etc. The school also appointed its own gardener (Hall 1911, pp. 280–281; Västerås decree of 1628, in Hall 1911, Appendix OI). By the mid-eighteenth century, and as a result of an emerging critique of the Latin and classicist orientation of the state-governed schools as well as an upswing in the manufacturing industry, the pleas for introducing more practical and useful knowledge in the state schools grew stronger. One response to this was to increase the natural science contents in schools. The commissioner report of 1760 – ‘Project til en förbättrad och förnyad förordning för trivial scholar och gymnasier i riket’ – can be seen as a sort of programmatic declaration for such a utilitarian turn. At this time, natural history was introduced as a school subject, and the botanical school garden became a more widespread feature. The connection to contemporary usefulness was tangible. The gardens could include medicinal plants such as tobacco, mulberry trees (important for silk production), and grasses suitable for colouring textiles (Floderus 1931, pp. 43–52). In the decree of 1807, it was explicitly imposed on the bishop to see to it that botanical gardens were built at the state schools if they had room for them on their grounds (National decree of 1807, p. 113). The reports to the National Upbringing Committee of 1812 give several local examples of the existence of school gardens, although they were of very different calibre. Some schools reported the existence of only a small kitchen garden, while others reported


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having botanical gardens and in one case even an orangery (National Upbringing Committee of 1812, reports from the schools in Skara, p. 770 and Härnösands gymnasium, p. 527). An apparent downside of school gardens was not only that they were time-­ consuming to keep in shape but also that they had the temporal organization of schooling working against them. Their peak as pedagogical tools overlapped with the summer vacation, and they were more or less useless during the long and cold winters. With regard to similar issues, the methodological appendix to the decree of 1820 suggested that the use of excursions and herbaria was a good alternative (‘Anwisningar och råd; bilaga till 1820 årsskolordning’, p.  47). To connect to Lefebvre, this can be read as a way to handle the disharmony, or arrhythmia, created by the tension between the cyclic rhythm of nature and the institutionalised social rhythm of the school. The common denominator for conducting outdoor activities within areas such as astronomy, geometry, and botany seems to be the desire to make teaching more tangible, active, and illustrative for pupils by putting them in direct contact with the phenomena they were supposed to study. This was also seen as making the teaching more practically anchored and contemporarily useful. These kinds of activities and the materialities that they relied on found support, not so much in the old classical and religious thinking but rather in a new and quickly emerging utilitarian discourse.

Functional and Aesthetic Dimensions of the Outdoors Matters related to functionality and the renovation of school buildings were highly important during the early modern era. Reports and letters from local schools recurrently addressed issues about the need to restore schools’ interiors and exteriors in order to keep them in bearable shape and fire safe, to mend damp school grounds, and to keep up with rising ground levels in badly drained and ever-changing townscapes and, of course, to find the economical means to do this (Cf. Hall 1939/1944, passim). However, closely attached to this functional and very practical interest for the outdoors was also an aesthetic with links to pedagogy. Early modern educational thinkers, like Comenius, stressed the importance of making both the inside and the surroundings of the schools aesthetically pleasant. If schools were arranged in such way, they would increase children’s desire to learn (Comenius 1999, p. 153). Similar ideas were also reflected in Swedish school instructions, although never in a programmatic way. Local school sources from the 1670s report, for example, about the planting of trees, the paving of the ground, and the construction of portals (to picket fences) on schoolyards in connection to overall restorations (Hall 1944, pp. 168–172). The decree of 1724, and later the commission writings of 1760, stated that it was the responsibility of the towns to see to it that the school grounds were extended to be able to include plantations and ‘other things’ that could work

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b­ eneficially for the school youth’s recreation. These decrees also determined the overall locations of the schools with regard to access to daylight and so on (National decree of 1724, p. 33; ‘Project til en förbättrad och förnyad förordning för trivial scholar och gymnasier i riket’ 1760). Letters from local schools and town councils from this period also show evidence of implementation of these regulations as well as of aesthetic considerations in reshaping schools’ outdoor areas. This included tidying up unpleasant and disgraceful schoolyards, tearing down old worn down buildings and picket fences in order to build new and ‘beautiful’ ones, and efforts to regulate where pupils urinated to reduce damage to the roughcast on stone walls and stench (Hall 1939, p. 218, 1944, pp. 172, 179–182, 279). Furthermore, the school garden is of course yet another example of features with an aesthetic potential. However, although the early modern sources express this modest concern for the aesthetic, it cannot be compared with the focus on these issues that are displayed by nineteenth-century sources.

On Moral Grounds: The School Gaolhouse The moral fostering of pupils and their training in social behaviour was one of the most distinctive tasks of early modern schooling. As mentioned above, the school authorities had a far-reaching responsibility for pupils and also a legal mandate to punish them. From this mandate emerged a very complex system for school discipline, encompassing a body of strict rules for moral conduct and equally strict means for upholding them. The prominent position of moral fostering also paved the way for a specific pedagogy and materiality dedicated to such activities (Norlin 2016). The school gaolhouse was a part of this materiality, or teaching technology, designed to foster pupils in social conduct. The gaol was, at least in some school sites, part of the outdoor facilities. The incarceration of pupils was used to punish misconducts such as crimes of violence, moral offence, desecration of the Sabbath, and vandalism, and it was often combined with other corporal punishments such as flogging pupils with ferules or birch rods or locking them into shackles or the pillory. The harshest penalty was expulsion from the school (cf. Decree of Västerås 1628, in Hall 1911, Appendix OI, pp. 33–38; Norlin 2016). A feature like the school gaolhouse was imbedded in a moral orthodox discourse and was clearly connected to the sacral penance tradition. It thus differed from other schoolyard features such as the botanical garden or the playground in the sense that they all had different discursive links. The gaolhouse was gradually phased out of formal planning as the ideas about corporal punishment as a means of upholding order changed and as school discipline found new and more elaborated techniques. In contrast to the botanical garden, which would become a permanent fixture of the schoolyard, the gaolhouses were instead taken out of use, torn down, or reconfigured to fit other purposes. A document from the school of Gävle from 1764 describes, for example, how it was decided to demolish the old and foul school gaol on the


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school grounds and replace it with a plant and herb garden, a ‘pretty picket fence’, and a storage for school supplies (Hall 1944, pp. 184–185; Norlin 2016). So, together with features such as the nineteenth-century outhouse, parade ground (or drilling area), and outdoor shooting range (Larsson et al. 2017, chapter 3), the school gaolhouse can be seen as an example of how certain aspects of the schoolyard have become outdated, lost their pedagogical purposes, and disappeared from the schoolyard’s topography.

Concluding Remarks: Making the Schoolyard? This chapter has examined formal efforts to facilitate outdoor activities and how this affected the spatial conceptualizations of schooling in early modern Sweden. Although concerns about the outdoors never became a major issue during the early modern era, this chapter has nonetheless highlighted how ideas about the use of the outdoors were introduced in formal planning in several different areas. It has also tried to connect the thinking about the outdoors to specific discourses. It is clear that the elements of recreation and play held the most prominent position in formal instruction regarding the use of the outdoors during the examined period. Such elements were central already in the first decree, and the ideas about their role in education expanded further in the instructions that followed. Accordingly, the making of the play area can be seen as the first effort in sectionalizing the schoolyard. Furthermore, there seems to be a clear link between these types of ascribed activities and what can be perceived as a classical humanistic discourse. In this recreation, play and moderate physical exercise were seen as necessary and supportive for the intellectual formation of the pupils. Even if the body was still subjected to the intellect, its harmonization with intellectual progress was seen as a vital part of schooling. This differed from more orthodox educational thinking that gave the body a far more suppressed position. This chapter has also stressed the connections between various academic subjects and the outdoors within the teaching of, for example, astronomy, geometry, geodesy, meteorology, and botany. For all of these subjects, as well as for play, recreation, and physical exercise, the outdoors supplied pedagogical possibilities that could not be attained inside the schools. The outdoors thus had a different kind of affordance, to use a more modern term. The sky, the ground, and the school garden were important parts of this. However, for these academic subjects, the motives for using the outdoors, seem to have been embedded in an emerging utilitarian discourse calling for a more active, practical, tangible, and contemporary turn of education. In addition to this, this chapter has also drawn connections between the pedagogical potentials of pleasant school environments and aesthetic considerations found in the formal planning of the outdoors, as well as of schoolyard features such as the gaolhouse connected to the religiously influenced area of moral education.

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All together, these ideas can be seen as gradually accumulating into the making of a common, although still fragmented, notion of the schoolyard. From having been a pedagogical terra incognita at the beginning of the early modern period, the schoolyard had gained a clearly visible and manifest position in formal educational planning by the end of it. And this occurred well before the major processes of modernization would begin. To return to the theories of Lefevbre presented above and to the common theme of this book, the making of the schoolyard as described in this chapter could be read as a gradual extension of conceived space and at the same time a reduction of it. The discovery of the outdoors extended the spatial possibilities of imagining schooling outside of the classroom, but by making it a part of the pedagogy, by designing rules and ideal uses of it, and by synchronizing it with the other rhythms of schooling, the outdoors soon became a site of governance and of extended ambitions to regulate pupils’ behaviour.

References Archival Sources Riksarkivet (RA) 1812 års Uppfostringskommitté, Från konsistorierna infordrade uppgifter om allmänna och enskilda skolor

Printed References Ahnfelt, P. G. (1882). Studentminnen: Anteckningar och tidsbilder från hemmet, skolan, universitetet och församlingen. Stockholm: Lamm. Burke, Catherine, (2005). Containing the school child: Architectures and pedagogies. Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 41(4–5), Special Issue, 489–639. Burke, C., Cunningham, P., & Grosvenor, I. (2010). Putting education in its place: Space, place and materialities in the History of Education. History of Education, 39(6), 677–680. Comenius, J. A. (1999). Didactica Magna: Stora undervisningsläran. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Floderus, M. (1931). Västerås högre allmänna läroverks skolträdgård – Sveriges äldsta. Lustgården, nr. 12. Frost, J. L. (2010). A history of children’s play and play environments: Toward a contemporary child-saving movement. New York: Routledge. Gutman, M., & de Coninck-Smith, N. (2008). Designing modern childhoods: History, space and the material culture of children. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Hall, B. R. (1911). JohannesRudbeckius (Ner.): En historisk-pedagogisk studie. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet. Hall, B. R. (1921). Om Sveriges första läroverksstadga: Studier rörande reformationstidens skola och skolfrågor. Lund: Föreningen för svensk undervisningshistoria. Hall, B.  R. (1939). Acta till Stockholms större latinläroverks historia, 1419–1840. Lund: Föreningen för svensk undervisningshistoria.


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Hall, B. R. (1944). Till Gefle läroverks historia 1557–1850: Urkunder samlade och kommenterade av B. Rud. Hall. Stockholm: Föreningen för svensk undervisningshistoria. Hall, B. R. (1921–1930). Sveriges allmänna läroverksstadgar 1561–1905. Lund: Föreningen för svensk undervisningshistoria. Hallgren, J.  A. (1909). Kort öfversikt af det svenska allmänna läroverkets historia. Stockholm: Norstedt. Klosterliv i Vreta: Förhistoria, andligt liv, daglig strävan, klostrets byggnader, nunnor och annat folk. (1998). Vreta Kloster. Larsson, A., Norlin, B., & Rönnlund, M. (2017). Den svenska skolgårdens historia: Skolans utemiljö som pedagogiskt och socialt rum. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. Lawn, M., & Grosvenor, I. (2005). Materialities of schooling: Design, technology, objects, routines. Oxford: Symposium Books. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Lefebvre, H. (2004). Rhythmanalysis: Space, time and everyday life. London: Continuum. Lindeberg, K., & Trovik, O. (1987). Läroverket som arkitektuppgift under 1800-talet. Stockholm: Konsthögskolans arkitekturskola. Lindeblad, K. (2010). Lavendel, hjärtstilla och svarta vinbär: Om medeltida klosterträdgårdar i Östergötland. In G. Tagesson et al. (Eds.), Fokus Vreta kloster: 17 nya rön om Sveriges äldsta kloster. Riksantikvarieämbetet arkeologiska undersökningar, nr. 77. Lindroth, J. (2004). Ling - från storhet till upplösning: Studier i svensk gymnastikhistoria 1800– 1950. Eslöv: B. Östlings bokförlag Symposion. Ljunggren, J.  (1999). Kroppens bildning: Linggymnastikens manlighetsprojekt 1790–1914. Stockholm: Stockholms Universitet. Markus, T. A. (1996). Early nineteenth century school space and ideology. Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 32(1), 9–50. Massey, D. (2013). Space, place, and gender. Hoboken: Wiley. Norlin, B. (2014), Kyrkan och skolan: Administrativ brytning från tidigmodern tid till nutid, Kyrkliga strukturer och platsbundna kulturer. In D. Lindmark, B. Norlin, D. Sjögren. Umeå: Umeå Universitet. Norlin, B. (2016). School jailhouse: Discipline, space and the materiality of school morale in early-Modern Sweden, History of Education: Journal of History of Education Society, 45(3). Ödmann, S. (1830). Hågkomster från hembygden och skolan. Uppsala: Palmblad & Co. “Project til en förbättrad och förnyad förordning för trivial scholar och gymnasier i riket” (1760). Stockholm: tryckt uti kongl. tryckeriet. Rimm, S. (2011). Vältalighet och mannafostran: Retorikutbildningen i svenska skolor och gymnasier 1724–1807. Örebro: Örebro universitet. Sandin, B. (1986). Hemmet, gatan, fabriken eller skolan: Folkundervisning och barnuppfostran i svenska städer 1600–1850. Lund: Lunds Universitet. Sellberg, E. (1979). Filosofin och nyttan. 1, Petrus Ramus och ramismen. Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet. Sellberg, E. (2010). Kyrkan och den tidigmoderna staten: En konflikt om Aristoteles, utbildning och makt. Stockholm: Carlsson. Sjöstrand, W. (1958). Pedagogikens historia. 2, Sverige och de nordiska grannländerna till början av 1700-talet. Lund: Gleerup. Sprinchorn, C. (1926). Minnen från svenska läroverk. 1. När vi gingo i Lunds katedralskola: Minnen upptecknade av gamla lärjungar. Lund: Gleerupska univ.-bokh. “Stadgar och förordningar för Västerås berömda gymnasium och skola (1628)”. In B. R. Hall, (1911). Johannes Rudbeckius (Ner.): En historisk-pedagogisk studie. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet. Appendix OI. Stridsberg, O. A. (1933). “Maria trivialskola å 1840-talet”, i Läroverksminnen: skildringar av f.d. elever och lärare, Årsböcker i svensk undervisningshistoria 37. Lund: Föreningen för svensk undervisningshistoria. Willis, J.  (2017). Architecture and the school in the twentieth century. In K.  Darian-Smith & J. Willis (Eds.), Designing schools: Space, place and pedagogy. London: Routledge.

Chapter 3

Democratic Schools for an Authoritarian Regime: Portuguese Educational and Architectural Experiences in the 1960s Gonçalo Canto Moniz

Abstract  During the Portuguese dictatorship (1926–1974), the former president Oliveira Salazar started to slowly open the regime to European policies after World War II. In 1960, the Minister of Education, Leite Pinto, integrated Portugal in the OECD Mediterranean Regional Project, which was created to improve the educational system in developing countries. This educational and planning policy was an opportunity to rethink the design of school building, according to the debate and the practices being developed in Europe, namely, in England. The participant countries  – Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia  – promoted a set of activities to increase their knowledge, focused on educational planning, architectural education, prefabricated construction and open classroom practices. In this context, between 1964 and1968, the Portuguese Work Group for School Buildings presented the first standardized projects for primary, preparatory and secondary schools that were built all over Portugal until 1984. This chapter will analyse this democratizing process of the authoritarian educational system focusing on four topics: (1) the educational policies and their implementation, (2) the design methodology concerning the architectural paradigms and the pedagogical practices, (3) the school buildings and learning spaces design and (4) the connection between design and governing behaviour.

This research has the financial support of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, in the frame of the Strategic Plan (UID/SOC/50012/2013) and the research project ATLAS of School Architecture in Portugal _ Education, Heritage and Challenges (PTDC/ATP-AQI/3273/2014). G. C. Moniz (*) Centre for Social Studies, Department of Architecture, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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Democratizing Fascism: Estado Novo Educational Policies In Europe, in the first half of the twentieth century, the emerging authoritarian regimes used education as a social tool to control behaviour and to bring up an elite that would guarantee the sustainability of the system itself. Therefore, public schools worked as mirrors of their governments and rulers, housing the implementation of a new political and social model. These regimes are reflected in the schools’ educational policies, management, pedagogy and also in their space design. In Portugal, the Estado Novo regime used the same methods their German and Italian allies did. In fact, the authoritarian regime created by António Oliveira Salazar followed with enthusiasm Mussolini’s and Hitler’s work, as the dictator himself states in an interview to his propaganda director António Ferro, in December 1932: [Portuguese] Dictatorship draws near, obviously, the [Mussolini’s] fascist dictatorship reinforces authority, declares open war on certain democratic principles, accentuates strong nationalist character, and is preoccupied with social concerns. It departs, however, from its policies of renovation. (Ferro 2007, p. 49)

The peculiarity of Salazar and Franco’s versus Hitler’s and Mussolini’s dictatorships was its longevity, guaranteed by the processes of transformation they were able to implement so as to ensure the regime’s survival after World War II. Regarding the State’s orientation, four crucial political moments are identifiable: first, the State’s modernization and the public work policies; second, the nationalist culture and ideology; third, the industrialization and political control; and fourth, the democratizing of speech and the limitation of freedom. These political processes of transformation had a direct impact on the educational policy orientation of the Estado Novo regime directed at the different stages of education. Therefore, one cannot speak of a single project but instead of a fragmented one that was being built through reaction to events.

The Modern School and the Territorial Network The Military Dictatorship, between 1926 and 1932, represented the transitory space from republican policies to the ones of the Estado Novo regime. The reforming spirit of the military dictatorship did not put aside the republican educational project; instead it tried to entrench the State’s role in the ‘student’s integral education’, as stated by Jorge Ramos do Ó (2009, p. 10). It is an exploratory moment during which Salazar held the position of Minister of Finances, but did not control all political fields. One of the foremost players was the engineer Duarte Pacheco who, in 1928, was Minister of Public Instruction as well as a teacher at the Instituto Superior Técnico (Higher Technical Institute). Not only did he have a direct influence on pedagogical processes, but he also assessed the material condition of public schools in the national territory and created a public

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work programme for school buildings, from maintenance to rehabilitation and new building construction. Thus, he created the Junta do Empréstimo para o Ensino Secundário (Loan Administration Department for the Secondary School), with architects, pedagogues and engineers. This arrangement allowed his successor, the minister Gustavo Cordeiro Ramos, to open, in 1930 and 1931, the architectural competitions for secondary school buildings for boys at Beja, Lamego e Coimbra, and for girls at Coimbra. This policy of public work assignment promoted the participation of young architects with innovative spatial and pedagogical organization proposals that mirrored European models. From a pedagogical point of view, these buildings delivered a comprehensive programme promoting diverse teaching models: humanities, with libraries; sciences, with laboratories, museums and herbariums; arts, with drawing and workshop rooms and cinema; and sports, with a gymnasium and pool, as we can see in articulation of functional blocs represented in the axonometric of Beja School Building (Fig. 3.1). This strategy also aimed at consolidating the secondary education school network by providing each district capital with adequate facilities. However, apart from these schools, Coimbra, Beja and Lamego, and the ones in

Fig. 3.1  Beja Secondary School, Axonometric, Luis Cristino da Silva, 1930–1936. Source: Cristino da Silva, ‘Liceu Nacional Jacinto de Matos, ex-Liceu Nacional Fialho de Almeida’, Revista Oficial do Sindicato Nacional dos Arquitectos, dir. Cottinelli Telmo, n.1, Lisboa, 1938


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Oporto and Lisbon, built in the republican period, most of the remaining national schools were housed in buildings with poor teaching conditions, such as old convents or urban houses. With regard to primary schools in this period, there were no significant changes to the process of building standardized projects in every city and village according to fixed dimensions, which had been implemented since the nineteenth century (Beja and Serra 1990). These projects aimed at providing the population with classrooms, sanitary installations and, when necessary, housing for the teacher. Although these small facilities progressively added to the built urban educational landscape of the Portuguese territory, the illiteracy levels remained very high when compared with other European countries.

The Nationalist School and the Ideological Facade The Portuguese State’s political and financial instability during the military dictatorship period created the conditions for António Oliveira Salazar to take over the presidency in 1932. In the following year, a new constitution was approved consolidating both the authoritarian face of the State and its nationalist character, both of which persisted throughout the term of the Estado Novo regime. The period between 1933 and 1945 in Portugal reflected the ideals and practices implemented by the European dictators in Germany and Italy. This way of thinking and conducting politics had its natural reflexion in Minister Carneiro Pacheco’s educational policy, who was appointed in 1936 to entrench the idea of the ‘Educator State’ proposed by Salazar. From primary school to university, the Estado Novo regime’s educational policy was centralized and deeply ideological, thus providing one of the main vehicles of the regime’s nationalist propaganda, called by António Ferro, ‘Politics of the Spirit’1 (Barreto 2010). Following Mussolini’s Opera Nazionale Balilla, Salazar created in 1936 Mocidade Portuguese (Portuguese Youth), and schools became ruled by a military discipline. Teachers had an important role to impose discipline and obedience to the idea of the State, which was underlined by a podium, the catholic crucifix and Salazar’s portrait in the classroom. Educational facilities (primary schools and lyceums) were the subject of a careful programming and systematization process, which aimed to bring the ‘Estado Novo regime’s Education’ to the whole territory, as O Século Ilustrado magazine stated in 1940. Thus, all buildings abandoned any modernist image and instead explored a more nationalist or regionalist one associated with the Commemorations of the Independence Double Centenary, carried out in 1940.2 1  António Ferro was the Director of the propaganda state department. The activities organized by this department were framed by the Politics of the Spirit, to promote the ‘aestheticization of politics’ and the politicization of art. 2  In 1940, the regime carried out the commemoration of two centenaries of the Independence: the foundation of Portugal, 1140, and the restoration of Independence conquered from Spain in 1640.

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Fig. 3.2  The axonometric represents the classical language of the façades with the rational organization of the programme. Coimbra Secondary School, Junta das Construções para o Ensino Técnico e Secundário, JCETS, 1938–1948. Source: Arquivo Histórico da Secretaria-Geral Educação e Ciência

This process was built from a direct intervention of ministers and State bodies. In the new political framework, the State created the Junta das Construções para o EnsinoTécnico e Secundário (JCETS) (Department of Construction for Technical and Secondary Education) to plan, design and build school buildings. On the one hand, primary schools were built according to the Centenary Plan3 embodying the image of a rural house. On the other hand, secondary school buildings were constructed according to the Plan of 1938, following the Lyceum of Portugal4 motto (da Mota 1940; Nóvoa and Santa-Clara 2003), and exploring a classical image of the facades, like a palace (Fig. 3.2). Apart from this nationalistic approach, both projects also adopted the rationalist criteria of the programme and construction and also the urban character of the public buildings. In fact, this urban condition was well stated in the central role that schools had within the design of urban plans. The university system also delivered its first integrated project with a plan for the city of  The Centenary Plan for the construction of primary schools in all Portuguese territory (Plano dos Centenários in Portuguese) was part of Salazar’s nationalist policies framed by the Double Centenary Commemoration of Portuguese independence. 4  The Plan of 1938 was defined by the Ministry of National Education to promote the construction of several secondary school buildings, named Lyceum (Liceu). This policy was welcomed by teachers who created a journal named Liceus de Portugal (Lyceum of Portugal). 3


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Coimbra. As part of the Estado Novo political programme, the idea of a New University was consolidated by integrating Portugal’s oldest university, created in 1290. Architect Cottinelli Telmo, who also designed the Portuguese World Exhibition for the Double Centenary Commemoration, demolished a great part of the old medieval city and built a modern urban structure according to the model of the University of Rome. The authoritarian image of the buildings became the face of a nondemocratic university, based on an elitist education that should train the State’s high-level officials. This ambitious and strategic programme for the Estado Novo Education was achieved during the 1940s and 1950s, but it was a slow process due to the economic difficulties deriving from World War II.

The Industrial School and the Rational System The end of World War II and consequent fall of the European dictatorships forced a substantial change in the Estado Novo political programme, abandoning the nationalist approach and addressing one that was more progressive and industrial. This direction was established in 1945 with the Law of Promotion and Industrial Reorganization (Lei do Fomento e da Reorganização Industrial), which allowed the support of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the Marshall Plan in 1948. The economic investment in the base infrastructures of the new industrial paradigm would be implemented through the ‘Planos do Fomento’, Development Plan I (1953–1958) and the Development Plan II (1959–1964). Fernando Pires de Lima, Minister of National Education, implemented a set of reforms between 1947 and 1955, aiming at valorising technical teaching to support industrial development. Thus, the government created a new building plan to develop commercial, industrial, artistic and agricultural schools to educate and produce specialized work forces in the district capitals. The Junta das Construções para o Ensino Técnico e Secundário (JCETS) developed a set of standardized projects that allowed fast and widespread construction throughout the national territory. The school as a palace was transformed into the school as a factory (Fig. 3.3). In parallel to the State’s initiatives, diverse experiments were carried out by the municipalities that began to have autonomy to make special projects. This practice was seen all over the country in the form of special projects of the City Halls’ offices or as direct commissions to private offices. In general, these projects abandoned the classicism style and the ideology of previous times and chose the modern space organization seen in international magazines and congresses. At this time, the State acknowledged the need to address the increasing student population and the necessary democratization of the access to primary, secondary, technical and superior schools. Simultaneously, Oporto and Lisbon began to build their modern university cities in the periphery, where the urban campus model was adopted in opposition to the one implemented in Coimbra.

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Fig. 3.3  The perspective represents the prototype project with three blocks – classrooms, sports pavilion, and workshops – that could be implemented with several layouts, adapted to any plot. Leiria Industrial and Commercial School, JCETS, 1950–55. Source: Arquivo Histórico da Secretaria-Geral Educação e Ciência

Technical and Social School and the Pavilion Model In 1955, Salazar remodelled his Ministry Organization to open Portugal’s society and the economy to the exterior world. After years of being closed to Europa and the world, Portugal needed to build relations with its neighbours to trigger exports and access the international organizations, such as NATO, EFTA or OECD. For the first time, Salazar appointed a science academic with an international curriculum to education; this act inverted the political profile of this area of government. The new minister Leite Pinto knew the educational policies of other European countries, believed in mass education by widening mandatory schooling, educating teachers, establishing lifelong learning practices and drawing up a plan for building schools (Almeida 2015, p. 71). His educational policy was based on an assessment of the educational actions needed, a policy which integrated foreign specialists and fostered close contact with the OEEC (Organization for the European Economic Co-operation) that after 1960 became the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Thus, Portugal had an immediate and natural reason for participating when the OECD started its Mediterranean Regional Project (MRP) to support countries in ‘determining school needs of each country for the next 15  years (1961–1975)’. Therefore, the adhesion to this OECD programme


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compelled Portugal to assemble a team of architects, engineers and pedagogues to develop standardized projects: the Work Group for School Buildings (Grupo de Trabalho sobre as Construções Escolares  – GTSCE). This standardization was intended to answer the mass education problem but also to establish relations with industry for the prefabrication of building systems.

 esign Methodology for Educational Buildings: D Concerning the Architectural Paradigms and the Pedagogical Practices The dialogue with OECD and the Mediterranean Regional Project (MRP) initiated by Minister Leite Pinto and continued by his successors, namely, Galvão Teles (1962–1968), not only transformed educational policies but also had great impact on the organisation of the educational system, from school planning to the construction of buildings to the pedagogical practices. In fact, after the report on Portugal made for the MRP was presented in 1963, the OECD started to develop a special interest in school buildings and the need to transform current paradigms. Therefore, the Development and Economy in Educational Building (DEEB) project was created with the participation of five countries of the MRP – Portugal, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia – the exception being Italy (Almeida 2015, p. 77). DEEB produced a new report on Portugal, where it proposed the creation of a Work Group for School Buildings which was created in 1964 inside the Ministry of Public Works and it continued the previous ‘boards’ (juntas) work thus absorbing their experience. However, it enclosed within the goal of building an innovative design process, which brought direct contact with international bodies and technicians. This standardization intended not only to answer the mass education issue but also to establish relations with industry for the prefabrication of building systems. The dialogue with the northern countries, especially England, resulted in an exploration of new learning spaces that were democratic and humanist and where the child was placed at the centre of the space design. Thus, the GTSCE developed integrated studies that covered the education issue from the nation to the classroom and aimed at fighting the traditional classroom crystallized by the Estado Novo regime. The intention was to engage with the ideas of new pedagogues, such as Rui Grácio’s, who wanted to recover the progressive teaching claimed in Portugal by António Sérgio and inspired by John Dewey. These pedagogues shared their ideas with the GTSCE’s architects, namely, Maria do Carmo Matos and Augusto Brandão, who represented a new generation that, in the early 1960s, claimed a social role for architecture. The GTSCE was made of an interdisciplinary team of architects (José Costa Silva, Maria do Carmo Matos, Augusto Brandão), engineers (José Marques da Silva, Artur Gonçalves, José Nascimento dos Santos) and pedagogues (Manuel

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Alambre dos Santos, Pedro Tavares, António Henriques). Architect José Costa Silva was an employee of the Board and had already participated in the 1938 Plan, but architects such as Maria do Carmo Matos and Augusto Brandão had just completed their education in architecture from Escola das Belas Artes of Lisbon in the 1950s, the peak period of questioning classic artistic education teaching. Augusto Brandão entered the JCETS in 1955 and designed some buildings, where a certain concern for standardization was already present and would be later explored in normalized projects for preparatory and secondary schools within GTSCE. His ideas on the new policy for school buildings were published in a set of articles in the magazine Binário between 1965 and 1967 where he argued that school should be a ‘living organism with new methodological concerns and, therefore, new architectural ones’ (Brandão 1965, p. 485). Maria do Carmo Matos’s professional activity started at the GTSCE, and she specialized in school architecture taking part in internships and international conferences. In 1966, she did an internship in the UK Development Group of the Architects and Building Branch at the Department of Education and Science for 3  months where she studied the office organization and the design method, attended meetings and followed up projects and visited schools and institutes, such as the CLASP Development Group.5 She had contact with new educational trends, such as group work and space flexibility, and with new physical environments built around studies of light, heating, isolation, ventilation and ergonomics. She also learnt new building techniques focused on prefabrication through development with industry, such as SCOLA, and solutions for integrating into architectural projects furniture that met pedagogical and ergonomic needs. This internship was supervised by the architect Guy Oddie, a consultant with OECD for the DEEB, who in his several visits to Portugal supported the GTSCE and the design of projects, as well as by other OECD consultants.6 It is, probably, during this period that Maria do Carmo met the English architects and couple Mary and David Medd, who started to regularly visit Portugal in order to see the new school spaces, comment on projects and present the most recent English school architecture practice (Almeida 2015, p. 114). The Medds represent a generation of English architects who, according to Catherine Burke (2009, pp. 422–423), ‘were “spacious” in their thinking’ and designed a school architecture ‘from the inside out’. In addition to the direct contact with technicians and structures of the project, GTSCE also created a documentation archive on school construction with reports, books, magazine articles and congress minutes. Access to scientific and professional knowledge helped to endorse the transformation proposals for school spaces and design methods. In fact, the office developed new design tools to integrate the different approaches from several disciplines. In this sense, instead of drawings, the report became the main design tool because it was easier to integrate the ­participation

5  CLASP Development Group was a Consortium of Local Authorities created in the UK in 1957 to develop new methods of standardization to support the mass construction of schools. 6  Eric Pearson, James Nisbett, Lizz Gibson or Alexander King


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of all players (architects, engineers, teachers, etc.) and to promote a strong awareness of the planning, design and assessment processes.7 Opening the institution, through OECD, to the English practices of designing also enabled contact with several European contexts, countries integrating MRP and DEEB, but also other countries participating in international meetings on school architecture. The Portuguese team attended training courses and international conferences, such as International Union of Architects (UIA) congresses, but the Seminar on the Day Light (Seminário Sobre a Luz do Dia), organized by the Civil Engineering Lab (LNEC  – Laboratório de Engenharia Civil), was particularly meaningful, as it brought together national and international experts. In fact, the theme of school architecture had already been present at UIA, both in the 1953 conference in Lisbon and in the summer course at Porto School of Fine Arts (Escola das Belas Artes do Porto) , in 1958, which was attended by Alfred Roth and Charles Herbert Aslin. Architect Vasco Croft was the first to write in Portugal on the paradigm shift that England was initiating with experiments in the school architecture of the Hertfordshire County, where he was an intern with Aslin’s team in 1953 (Croft 2001, p. 44). Croft’s articles in the Binário and Arquitectura magazines (Fig. 3.4) were pioneering and launched, in Portugal, a debate over the transformation of the technical school into a communitarian school that would relate the members of the immediate neighbourhood with a network of schools with several educational levels (Croft Moura 1957). The OECD, through the Mediterranean Regional Project and DEEB, allowed a deep change in the design culture of the government offices. Thus, it was international cooperation, which enabled the implementation of the educational policies of consecutive ministers in the 1960s aimed at addressing mass education. The new schools with spaces and pedagogy focused on the student influenced the organization of cities and helped to foster an emerging democratic culture that would claim freedom in 1974. As a matter of fact, after World War II, the communitarian school became an ally for contesting the authoritarian regime.

Communitarian School Buildings The standardized projects made by the architects Augusto Brandão and Maria do Carmo Matos, at GTSCE, were the starting point for the democratization of Portuguese society as they subverted the Estado Novo educational project with its bounded ideological matrix. The hierarchic structure of space and the classic façades of the compact school buildings were transformed into more open structures, composed by thematic blocs connected by galleries. Starting with a technical problem, the solutions developed a pavilion-like model that articulated all school spaces with

7  Ana Patrícia Almeida’s PhD thesis collects the documents relating GTSCE’s projects, namely, reports and letters between institutions and international biography (Almeida 2015, p. 295).

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Fig. 3.4  Croft de Moura, “Pre Fabricação em Hertfordshire”, Arquitectura, 61, 1957



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more flexible structures, adaptable to different urban and social contexts and also adaptable to different pedagogical methods. This model, inherited from hospital architecture, had already been experienced by architect Ventura Terra, in 1905, in the project of the Liceu Pedro Nunes in Lisbon, in the context of republican policies. However, after World War II and with a purely economic goal, the need to build more and faster created the conditions to generate the adoption of prefabricated building and project normalization systems. This way of thinking and doing had special impact on houses and school facilities, not only to answer the rural population exodus, but it also had an impact on industrial architecture and other public facilities, such as hospitals and military structures. This strategy’s success depended on a technologically developed industry, which could plan, design and execute. In the UK, the government and the architects could count on a qualified industry, but Portugal could not. The approach to the standardization of design processes also created a strong debate on programmatic aspects, namely, the need to address greater sociological diversity. Thus, the mass building of housing and schools had to find spatial and functioning answers, flexible solutions, to allow diverse appropriation. The house and the educational units (as classrooms) were the object of comprehensive studies with life-sized models where furniture gained increasing importance. In Portugal, these studies developed at housing and school planning offices were aided by the Civil Engineering Laboratory (LNEC) that developed the investigation, experimentation and monitoring. As for school architecture, the debate was focused on the open and multifunctional classroom and on open schools. On the one hand, the purpose was to abandon the traditional classroom and rethink the teacher-student relationship through a room that enabled a major diversity of learning processes. On the other hand, it was intended to make the school more open to the community, promoting parents’ participation in school activities and allowing the city to become an extension of the educational space. This architectural transformation implied a deep transformation in pedagogical methods and, therefore, a close dialogue between architects and pedagogues. As Burke writes (2009, p.  421), this team project would lie ‘in the development of a common vocabulary generated by research through practice’.

The Pilot Projects and the Multivalent Room At GTSCE, between 1964 and 1972, Augusto Brandão and Maria do Carmo Matos developed a set of standardized projects for the three education levels: primary, preparatory and secondary. Maria do Carmo was responsible for two pilot projects, one for the Primary School of Mem Martins, in 1964, and other for the Preparatory School type, in 1966, both developed under the RPM. The project process for both schools was organized in three stages: analysis, investigation and critical examination and action. Those three stages were developed by architects and pedagogues trying to establish the relation between ‘aspects to be considered by teachers’ and

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‘aspects to be considered by architects’ regarding programmes and teaching methods. On their side, pedagogues defined, for instance, ‘active methods’ (from the teacher and from the student) that restricted mobility, circulation, direct and personal contact and zoning according to several tasks, or ‘socialization’, which implied forming groups of students and furniture for specific and usual tasks (Oliveira 2010, pp. 132–134). From the pedagogical point of view, the primary school pilot project comprised a set of orientations from the MRP recommendations and current legislation, namely, relation with the community, learning from the senses (see, memorize, manipulate, associate and invent), team work and a spirit of belonging to the school. These conditions introduced significant changes to the formal learning spaces, where the classroom began to house different learning and teaching methods through multifunctional furniture. But the greatest transformation probably occurred in the informal learning spaces with the creation of a multivalent room, which was now a social meeting point for extracurricular activities, a library, a canteen and also, an exterior space that allowed different uses (Oliveira 2010, p. 22). These goals also implied the development of complementary studies to control natural light and to design furniture that should answer to a better relation with the student’s body through ergonomic studies. The architecture project for the primary school featured two crucial spaces: the classroom module, with two units, one sanitary and a service area, and the multivalent room, with kitchen, teachers’ room and library (Fig. 3.5). The classroom module could be repeated according to each school need. The multivalent room was

Fig. 3.5 Mem Martins School, primary school pilot-project, in Arquitectura 98, 1964, p. 170–171


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considered the centre of the school and could be extended to a classroom. The project also included a small exterior patio connecting the spaces and characterizing the transition spaces. The space rationality was opposed by a certain organic sense provided by the sloped roofing that gave the school a ‘home’ character, which was also experienced inside the building with the furniture created by a designer who joined the team of architects, engineers and pedagogues. For the preparatory school pilot project, the architect applied the same themes for the design and articulation with the pedagogical aspects – the multivalent room in the centre and the classroom modules with two or four units. The programme complexity would force the development of two classroom blocs  – one for common classes and another for special classes with a technical and manual character. However, the project’s major issue was co-education, because the government did not allow for different genders to share spaces. Despite the three submitted proposals, this specification precluded the pilot project. At the same time, between 1960 and 1966, architect Augusto Brandão developed four standardized projects for lyceums and technical schools. The presented proposals followed Maria do Carmo’s team principles established for the pilot schools regarding the relation between the multivalent space and the classroom blocs. If the adequacy of this model to the preparatory school had already implied a more complex system of spatial and functional relations, the pedagogical demand of these educational levels would imply the same. Brandão would, thus, work the diverse blocs with more autonomy by taking advantage of the pavilion-like system. One of the most valued aspects was the design of the central area that would become the civic centre of the school and surrounding community. The multivalent room, the gymnasium, the library and the canteen would be part of this centre. Another crucial aspect was the relation between this core and the classroom blocs that allowed relinquishing the corridors as distribution spaces. Within these blocs, rooms were organized around a central space that promoted interaction and socialization. Even the classrooms were now square shaped not to privilege a single direction and allow different settings. The drawings already showed this concern by simulating different organizations of the worktables and even proposed the association of two classrooms (Fig. 3.6). The system in blocs allowed not only an easier adequacy of the prototype to all plots, but it also promoted the use by the community with its autonomous functioning. Thus, the school core and the central space of the classroom blocs were spaces for the students to build relations, as a way to promote their civic and relational awareness, and also a space of articulation with the community. This idea was underlined by architect Augusto Brandão (1967, p. 529), ‘The creation of these blocs allows the application and adequacy of each space to the activities in course, promoting the development of groups of interest’. In 1968 and within the Development Plan III (Plano do Fomento), Augusto Brandão designed another project for preparatory schools that would be both economic and cultural. The team that included other architects, such as Costa e Silva, Sobral Blanco, José Pedroso and Bernardes Miranda, two pedagogues, Teixeira de Matos and Tavares Emídio and the Profabril company, promoted a research stage: ‘To design, manage and experience a school, to feel its spatial environment, in its whole and particular, a full research work must be done in order to feel and

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Fig. 3.6  Preparatory school pilot-project, plans, GTSCE (Augusto Brandão), 1966, in Arquitectura, 105–106, p. 184

e­ xperience its purpose’ (Costa e Silva et al. 1969, p. 183). This proposal retrieved the idea of a core of interest, associated with the classroom, with three purposes – informative, formative and guiding. The project already revealed a high level of knowledge on pedagogical issues and their impact on space design, showing


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a­ rchitectural solutions that promoted the diversity of activities developed by children in and outside a classroom. The novelty was the intermediate space between the classroom and the open courtyard, where students could find the space for their individuality within a highly collective space. This was probably the proposal which took the Medd’s principles the furthest, ‘designed from the inside out’, as seen in the expressive and intentional drawing of the architectural plan that exemplifies the school’s adaptability level. The best example of this rich dialogue between interior and exterior was the circular window of the classroom pavilions, which related the student’s world with the community’s world. Schools built during this period also followed the OECD’s recommendations as how to control costs, through the application of prefabricated systems and budgeting systems. One of the assessment committee’s criticisms of the pilot project for primary schools was related to the difficulty in using modern building systems but still resorting to traditional techniques. In Augusto Brandão’s designs, this issue appears highly evolved regarding the project rationalization and the integration of prefabrication products from Portuguese companies, mainly Soares da Costa. As Alegre and Heitor (2013, p. 102) explain: the retrograde Portuguese industrial sector at the time did not allow the development of more innovative construction systems using new materials (steel and aluminium) such as light weight steel structures and prefabricated systems like those produced by English industries. On the contrary, the Portuguese approach promoted the use of reinforced concrete systems with standard and normalized elements in the construction.

The image of these schools is indeed associated to this material, such as concrete surfaces, aluminium frames or asbestos cement roofing. Unfortunately, the Portuguese industry did not develop specific solutions for schools, and these elementary industrial systems did not contribute to enhance the public image of these buildings. So, these schools are more known by their industrial image than their communitarian function. These schools were built all over the Portuguese territory, providing facilities for the new neighbourhoods that were quickly appearing in the peripheries. Their modular principle was crucial to meeting the dimensions of any plot that should be bought by a low price or offered by the municipality. With this economic strategy, the school buildings lost not only their central and structural position in urban planning but also their public character (Fig. 3.7).

The P3 Project and Open Classroom In 1969 Salazar died and the Colonial War was getting criticized harder everyday by all sectors of society. The new leader, Marcelo Caetano, reoriented Estado Novo towards a democratic renovation allowing the ‘possible opening’ of the regime. The Minister of Education, Veiga Simão, started a democratizing process of the educational system due to the pressure imposed by students in 1969’s academic crises

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Fig. 3.7  Preparatory school pilot-project, two different site-plans, GTSCE (Augusto Brandão), 1966, in Arquitectura, 105–106, p. 191

(Moniz 2008). The contract with OECD came to an end, and GTSCE and JCETS became the General Direction of School Building (DGCE  – Direcção-Geral das Construções Escolares) led by the Ministry of Public Works. These changes in the regulating bodies diminished for the Ministry of Education the value of architectural school planning, which made the dialogue between architects and teachers more difficult. At DGCE, Maria do Carmo developed a new prototype for a primary school the ‘P3 Project’ that would bring to the school space a progressive pedagogical method. Following the several projects designed through the 1960s, the debate was ever


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Fig. 3.8  P3 Prototype Project, two classrooms per floor and a multivalent room, plans, Maria do Carmo Matos, DGCE, 1970. Source: DGEE (October, 1977), Normas sobre Construções Escolares. Edifícios e Terrenos para Escolas Primárias, doc. E1/77, Arquivo Histórico da Secretaria-Geral Educação e Ciência

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Fig. 3.9  P3 Prototype Project, six classrooms per floor and a multivalent room, Maria do Carmo Matos, DGCE, 1970. Source: DGEE (October, 1977), Normas sobre Construções Escolares. Edifícios e Terrenos para Escolas Primárias, doc. E1/77, SGEC_DGCE_GEP E1/77, Arquivo Histórico da Secretaria-Geral Educação e Ciência

more focused on the classroom and the difficulty in overcoming traditional teaching. Thus, the P3 Project explored research into the open plan school, which was being tried out in the international context. Although Maria do Carmo had lost the dialogue with OECD, she maintained contact with English architects, namely, the Medds, who visited Portugal in 1970 to make a report on the furniture project developed by the architect Fernanda Castelo. P3 Project had two main goals: on the one hand, to promote teamwork and the diversity of teaching methods, and on the other, to allow fast and low-cost building by means of associating two classroom modules (two or three rooms) and a polyvalent central core (Figs.  3.8 and 3.9). If P3 drawings showed the architects’ clear adoption of the open plan school, it is in the report, which informed and justified the project that the architects’ will to ‘make pedagogy through the space’ is revealed, as Ana Patrícia Almeida writes (2015, p.  187) in her study on ‘open plan schools.’ These architects and teachers who developed the study also demonstrated a deep knowledge of this new paradigm that proposed an ‘open school not only in a physical aspect, but also open to all truly renewing educational conceptions’. The project report was even more specific, explaining the pedagogical potential the space gave to the teaching and learning process: –– The space organization should be less imposing, allowing students and teachers to choose between diverse work methods. –– The individual and teamwork should attend the students’ interests and the diversity of tasks.


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–– Not only the current learning techniques but also those adopted in more evolved countries. –– learning process: “the space organization should be less imposing, allowing students and teachers to choose between diverse work methods; the individual and teamwork should attend the students’ interests and the diversity of tasks; not only the current learning techniques but also those adopted in more evolved countries; students’ social interaction without being compartmentalized in classrooms, so they will join together for their interests and kinship” (MOP 1970, p. 4). However, the 1985 report, made at the end of this experience, acknowledged teachers’ criticism, ‘it (the building) already has a much defined pedagogical burden and it is difficult to escape its own teaching way’ (MOP 1970, p. 5). Teachers were not ready for the radical proposal from the architects and a few progressive teachers, which implied a dramatic change in pedagogical methods in order to create a group dynamic and to explore each student’s individuality. Teachers complained of noise and indiscipline and clamoured for four-walled classrooms. In response to this rejection, the General Direction of Basic Education promoted colloquiums, training actions and documentation on the use of open classrooms to support teachers, with Portuguese and international bibliographies, where, for an example, several didactic schemes were offered. The P3 prototype construction and its implementation process moved from the authoritarian regime to the democratic one with the end of the Estado Novo in 1974. Nevertheless, this transformation of Portuguese society was not enough for teachers to abandon their traditional practices and adhere to the P3 flexible and adaptable space. This pedagogical experiment with more than 300 built schools came to an end, in 1986, due to teachers’ strong opposition. In a way, it is the democracy and the right to refuse an imposed model that sentenced the end of the democratic experiment led by an authoritarian government.

Paradoxes of the Learning Spaces Democratization Process The democratization of learning spaces has been a process developed in two time periods. On the one hand, the Estado Novo regime, from 1955 to 1974, promoted an educational policy focused on school building from alphabetization to scientific education as an answer to Portuguese society’s low educational attainment level. In fact, as Almeida (2015, p. 255) refers in her research, ‘also in this case it is possible to consider school building policies as exemplary figures of educational policies’. This process was born from a minister’s decision to open the dialogue with international institutions, but it was implemented by a group of directors and technicians who acknowledged the opportunity to transform the nationalist paradigm. The OECE/OECD’s and its consultants’ support and also the technical and social training of architects and pedagogues were crucial to this research into the school space to integrate new paradigms more focused on students and the community.

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The successive proposals presented between 1964 and 1974 tried to include this approach, always negotiating with several institutions to control the implementation impact. The multivalent room, to both interior and exterior community, and the open plan classroom, to integrate students’ diversity, are innovative and ­international concepts that technicians could design and directors would accept. Even if teachers have, in general, rejected the model, the architectural culture recognized the quality of this process and its products, having several articles published in the specialist magazines, Arquitectura and Binário. Thus, we might say that educational policies and the school architecture have democratized the authoritarian regime. On the other hand, the democratic regime, from 1974 to 1985, recognized the value of past experiences made during the Estado Novo regime and kept in force the prototype projects. In fact, most of the 300 primary schools of the P3 project and many standardized ones (preparatory and secondary) were built during the democracy period. However, besides the colloquiums, the training actions and support documentation made to train teachers for the new space and pedagogical paradigm, this democratic and architectural model was not successfully implemented. Teachers of the open classroom school reacted and claimed the traditional classroom, with walls, rejecting the space and the teamwork as a pedagogical practice. As a matter of fact, Portuguese democratic society and its institutions could not continue this innovative experiment. We can, therefore, conclude that the learning space democratization process between 1955 and 1985 was always paradoxical and six contradictions are easily identifiable. First, it was born within the authoritarian regime institutions as a way to promote and support mass education and so to address economic and labour industrialization. Second, mass education through the standardization and prefabrication building enabled the construction of spaces that changed the teacher-student relationship, which was against the Estado Novo principles of hierarchy, order and discipline. Third, the building industry was not prepared to offer solutions with high technology at low cost for school buildings. Fourth, teachers were not ready to develop the pedagogical practices proposed by GTSCE, namely, teamwork and the open plan classroom. Fifth, the open school implementation with a democratic character was supported by the Estado Novo institution but not by teachers of the democratic regime. Sixth, the Estado Novo educational policy promoted research into democratic learning space, while the democracy educational policy gave in to the teachers’ pressure and returned to the traditional classroom. The learning space democratization process was slow and paradoxical as was Portuguese society’s democratization itself, which in many cases has not overcome the Estado Novo heritage. School architecture was again subject of a structured educational policy in 2007 with the Parque Escolar programme,8 but the classroom was yet to be touched again and another opportunity was lost (Blyth et al. 2012; Moniz and Ferreira 2016).

8  Parque Escolar is a State company created in 2007 to promote the modernisation of the secondary school buildings, following the British programme, Building Schools for the Future.


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References Alegre, A., & Heitor, T. (2013). The evolution of secondary school building construction in Portugal in the 20th century: From traditional to industrial. Construction History, 28(2), 79–104. Almeida, A.  P. T. de (2015). Atores, regulação e conhecimento nas políticas públicas de construçõesescolaresem Portugal: as escolas de área aberta. Retrieved from http://repositorio. Barreto, J.  (2010). António Ferro: Modernism and Politics. In S.  Dix & J.  Pizarro (Eds.), Portuguese modernisms: Multiple perspectives on literature and the visual arts (pp.  135–154). London: Routledge. Retrieved from Ant%C3%B3nio_Ferro_Modernism_and_Politics. Beja, F., & Serra, J.  (Eds.). (1990). Muitos anos de escolas. Lisbon: Ministério da Educação, Direcção Geral de Administração Escolar. Blyth, A., Almeida, R., Forrester, D., Gorey, A., & Hostens, G. (2012). Modernising secondary school buildings in Portugal. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved from Brandão, A. (1965). Breves considerações acerca da posição actual da arquitectura escolar em Portugal perante o surto e a reorganizaçãodoensino. Binário, 77, 484–485. Brandão, A.  P. (1967). Temas de construção escolar: análise do Liceu de Vila Nova de Gaia. Binário, 103–104, 526–537. Burke, C. (2009). “Inside out”: A collaborative approach to designing schools in England, 1945– 1972. Paedagogica Historica, 45(3), 421–433. Costa e Silva, Blanco, S., Pedroso, J., Miranda, B., & Brandão, A. P. (1969). As novas escolas do ciclo preparatório do ensino secundário: estudos para o projecto da escola preparatória do ensino secundário. Arquitectura, 105–106, 183–192. Croft, V. (2001). Arquitectura e humanismo : o papel do arquitecto, hoje, em Portugal. Lisbon: Terramar. Croft Moura. (1957). Pré Fabricação emHerfordshire. Arquitectura, (61), 32–35. Ferro, A. (2007). Entrevistas a Salazar. Lisbon: Parceria A. M. Pereira. Moniz, G. C. (2008). The Portuguese “May 68”: Politics, Education and Architecture. European Journal of American Studies, 3(2). Moniz, G. C., & Ferreira, C. (2016). The school as a city and a city as a school: Future architectural scenarios for the school. In Lernumgebungen Erziehungswissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf Schulgebäude und Klassenzimmer (pp. 125–137). Opladen: Verlag Barbara Budrich. MOP. (1970). P3 Projecto Normalizado de Escolas Primárias. Mota, A. A. R. da (Ed.). (1940). Liceus de Portugal: boletim da acção educativa do ensino liceal. Lisbon: s.n. Nóvoa, A., & Santa-Clara, A.  T. (Eds.). (2003). «Liceus de Portugal»: histórias, arquivos, memórias (1aed). Porto: ASA. Ó, J. R. do. (2009). Ensino Liceal (1863–1975). Ministério da Educação. Retrieved from http:// Oliveira, S.  I. dos S. (2010). Escolas-tipo: o processo de produção escolar de 1958 a 1968. Retrieved from

Chapter 4

Design Features of Icelandic School Buildings: How Do They Reflect Changes in Educational Governance and Daily School Practice? Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir and Torfi Hjartarson

Abstract  A recent shift in the design of school buildings in Iceland is apparent, from a conventional classroom setting to a more open and flexible learning environment. The aim of the project related here is to take a close look at this development by identifying significant design features and how they have changed over time to reflect educational policy and affect educational practice. Environmental and architectonic features characterising both older and recently designed school buildings at the primary and lower secondary level are examined in light of challenges involving architecture, educational ideology, school governance and teaching practice. Data was collected by interviews, observations and photography at 20 school sites, review of policy and technical documents, drawings and writings. The school buildings are grouped into three main categories based on their overall design: a traditional design pattern with classrooms of similar sizes along corridors, a cluster design pattern with two or more classrooms with adjacent spaces grouped together and arranged to form units within the school as a whole and finally an open plan design pattern with extended learning spaces for large groups of students and teacher teams. The first design form has prevailed for a long time and is seen by many as the dominant venue for conventional school practice, while the two latter and most recent design forms have been developed to encourage a more dynamic and democratic approach to teaching and learning.

This study has received grants from the Icelandic Research Council (RANNIS), The University of Iceland Research Fund and The University of Akureyri Research Fund. Models depiced were  designed by ARKIS architects and the authors, first published in Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson, 2011. Photographs presented were taken by the second author in primary and lower secondary schools at different locations in Iceland not necessarily in relation with the research project related here. They are published with all rights reserved. A. K. Sigurðardóttir (*) · T. Hjartarson School of Education, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



A. K. Sigurðardóttir and T. Hjartarson

Policy, Design and Daily Practice Links between educational policy, the design of a school building and daily school practice have gained attention in the literature of late. Scholars seem to agree on the complexity of interactive relations at work in this respect, while results remain somewhat inconclusive as to how and to what extent spatial design may affect teaching and learning or school practice in broader terms (Alterator and Deed 2013; Blackmore et  al. 2011; Woolner 2010). Recent studies in Portugal (Veloso et  al. 2015) indicate no or limited changes in educational practice following a nationwide effort to renovate upper secondary school buildings. Mulcahy et al. (2015), similarly, found no clear or causal link between space and pedagogy as they reviewed the use of flexible learning spaces in Victoria, Australia, focusing on four schools at the primary and secondary school level. They concluded that pedagogical change should be regarded from a sociometric perspective as being encompassed with multiple sets of relations and multiple forms of practice. Some examples and experiences, however, reviewed in a recent research project in Icelandic schools (Óskarsdóttir 2014), serve to show how well-founded school building design, laid out, realised and followed up with appropriate developmental and administrative measures, may help to evolve school practice and bring about wanted change. A recent shift in educational policy and the design of school buildings has been recorded to have had some effect on daily school practice and collaboration among the teaching staff in Icelandic schools at the primary and lower secondary school level, manifested in more democratic and student-centred learning (Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2011, 2016a, b), as will be related further below. A conceptual model by Gislason (2010, 2015) attempts to throw some light on complex sets of relations between space and pedagogical practice by suggesting that the physical space, teaching organisation, staff culture and student milieu of a school should be elements in logical alignment. The organisation of teaching reflects cultural values and educational assumptions, as does the physical design of a school building, and there have to be certain congruencies between all these elements when attempts are made to bring about educational change. The conventional school model, based on tracking, fragmentation of subject matter and other measures of standardisation, has sometimes been coined ‘the cells and bell model’ (Nair and Fielding 2005) and is often considered rigorous or even oppressive from the outset. The traditional design form of school buildings represents or reflects conventions that are firmly rooted in our educational systems and are by many deemed out of date or obsolete (Nair 2011), in part for looking at learning as a linear process or a production line where teachers transmit knowledge to students (Veloso et al. 2015). School design, accordingly, ‘still responds to outdated modes of instruction’ (Lackney 2009, p. 5), in spite of enormous societal changes and educational movements in decades past, such as the progressive movement and early open plan approaches in school design. We do, however, have to pay careful attention to detail and historical context when reviewing school building design. The conventional school building is sometimes tied in overly simplified ways with educational efforts and social rigour in Prussia approaching industrialisation, some

4  Design Features of Icelandic School Buildings: How Do They Reflect Changes…


200 years back in time (Dorn 2011; Watters 2015). Schools that we tend to regard as conventional may in fact have more complex roots that we need to consider, as well as egalitarian, democratic and progressive elements that should be recognised and taken into account (Dudek 2000). Progressive movements and open plan approaches in design have gained momentum in decades past, yet suffered backlashes and often tended to fade out over time (Cuban 2004; Fink 2000), while more recent attempts to make radical changes in school design seem to many more sustainable, in part with the help of digital technologies (Törnquist 2005). The basic approach in design, manifested in buildings representing clusters or open plan design and related below, has been to provide teachers and students alike with a better venue for a more democratic practice, emphasising project-based and individualised learning, collaborative efforts and manifold use of educational resources. It needs to be noted, however, that some new design features may, nevertheless, fail to bring about wanted change or have unwanted side effects that have to be considered and kept in mind. The educational promise of new design forms, again, needs to be regarded with certain care, attention to detail and awareness of contextual complexities. We will below take a close look at Icelandic buildings designed to house compulsory schools at the primary and lower secondary school levels, spanning grade levels 1–10. Our aim is to identify and illustrate significant features of school design and how they have evolved over time to reflect educational ideology and affect educational practice. We will attempt to illuminate three main issues in this respect: what are the architectonic features of significance involved, what were the ideological and political ideas of governance behind each particular design feature or model of design and how have they affected educational practice. Data was collected by observations and photography at 20 school sites, interviews with school leaders and teachers at each site, as well as reviews of relevant policy documents. The buildings and their surroundings were outlined in observation notes. Some of the schools in our sample represent many design patterns, and a few have gradually become very complex constructions over time, after a number of revisions and supplementary building projects. The buildings, do however, in general terms, grope as a whole or in part into three categories based on their overall design: a conventional design laid out in the spirit of an industrial era and often coined ‘cells and bells’, with classrooms of similar sizes lined up along corridors, a cluster design to encourage activities and collaboration across classroom boundaries with two or more classrooms and adjacent spaces grouped together and arranged to form operational and collaborative units within the school as a whole and finally an open plan design of a more radical approach with extensive learning spaces for multiple uses and large cohorts of students, attended and led by teachers working in teams. The two latter and more recent design forms were developed to support a reflective and collaborative school practice in an attempt to meet individual needs of students and encourage their democratic involvement in their own learning process. They represent a clear shift in school building design evident in a number of new school buildings and reconstruction projects in Reykjavik and other parts of Iceland, built and inaugurated over the last couple of decades. We will below be looking at


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all three design forms, to illuminate how the design of school buildings has evolved over time in response to educational governance attempting to affect daily school practice.

‘ Cells and Bells’: The Predominant Design Form Throughout the Twentieth Century The conventional design pattern of regularly sized classrooms in rows was predominant in 6 buildings out of 20 in our sample and characteristic in part at 7 other sites. The pattern was found in older schools but also in some of the more recent buildings included in the sample. Nine initial school houses from the sample, predominantly of traditional design, were built over a period from 1942 to 1997 but later enlarged and revised in part with supplementary constructs of open plan design. The history of public school buildings in Iceland is fairly short; industrialisation led to modern and technological advances but did not really reach this remote country until the early twentieth century (Guttormsson 2009). The population was tiny in comparison with other countries and had been living under primitive conditions from livestock farming and fisheries in open sailboats for centuries past. Design decisions at each school site in those early years of modernisation had to rely on a handful of architects, who gradually grew in number and were educated in other countries where public school buildings were already abundant. Educational and political stakeholders must also have influenced decisions to a certain extent at each site. Educational pioneers in these early years brought to the country advanced ideas about public education and teacher training, based on their studies and study visits abroad on both sides of the Atlantic. The oldest public school house in Reykjavik (Fig. 4.1), still in use as a school but not included in our sample, built in the 1920s and inaugurated in 1930, is an example of ambitious design at these early stages of public schooling.

Fig. 4.1  Icelandic school inaugurated in 1930: decorated entrance, hallway, and playground, Iceland 2015

4  Design Features of Icelandic School Buildings: How Do They Reflect Changes…


The building is a tall and prominent structure, neoclassical in a Nordic fashion of that era (Arkitektafélag Íslands 2000) and designed by one of the first architects in the country, partly based on Danish expertise and advice (Guttormsson 2009). It is made of concrete, decorated with noteworthy artwork by Icelandic artists and laid out with an array of sophisticated spaces for learning, cultural activities and community needs. The design of most public school buildings in Iceland, throughout the last century, appears to be mostly based on concepts determined in a similar fashion: modelled to some extent after school buildings abroad or their local counterparts, as they grew in number, influenced to some extent by predominant pedagogies of their era and agreed upon for each individual project. The prevailing or most common design pattern, however, easily detected in most of these buildings and sometimes carefully copied from one site to another, has been the row of classrooms, similar in size and lined up to run along a corridor of some particular length and style (see also Lippman 2010). Hallways, corridors and indoor balconies tended to be wide, bringing certain splendour to older school buildings as cultural centres, but grew somewhat narrower by comparison in some later buildings of traditional design, in part on financial grounds. Many school buildings, predominantly of traditional design, were built in a post-war era when birth rates were on the rise and people moving in great numbers from the countryside into more densely populated areas. The city of Reykjavik grew very fast in the decades following the Second World War, and new school buildings, housing up to a thousand children for a number of years each, had to be built or enlarged in an easily scalable fashion. Figure 4.2 reflects a typical footprint of conventional wings designed in that fashion and found in many of the school buildings included in our sample. A regular classroom laid out in a conventional fashion would be from around 45 m2 in size in the older schools up to around 70 m2 in more recent schools. Such a classroom would have individual seats and tables for about 20–30 students, normally lined up in rows, often with two or more students sitting together, to face a

Fig. 4.2  Model of a conventional setup of classrooms along narrow hallways, created 2011


A. K. Sigurðardóttir and T. Hjartarson

teacher desk and a chalkboard but, in some instances, arranged to accommodate a class of students in small groups. Most classrooms of this sort are shaped in a cube-­ like fashion with large windows above table level running along one of the sides. Some of these classrooms, however, designed in the latter half of the century, may vary a bit in shape and size from the norm and have a breakout area in one corner or some extra space for group activities and individual work at one end. Such features, subtle as they are, do reflect a longstanding interest among educationalists to encourage variety in group arrangements and teaching methods and promote both collaborative learning and project work (Guttormsson 2009). An emphasis on crafts as special subjects in public education has in Iceland been evident from the very early years of public schooling. Home economics, textiles, woodwork and art were in the early twentieth century not only considered pedagogically sound in a Deweyan sense and spirit, tying authentic tasks from everyday life into public schooling, but also of practical importance in an underdeveloped country, way behind its distant neighbours in almost any industry or craftsmanship (Guttormsson 2009). This has been clearly reflected in legislation and the design of public school buildings all around the country. Public school buildings in Iceland are, as a rule, equipped with spacious classrooms of special design, dedicated and assigned to home economics, textiles, woodwork and art (Fig. 4.3). Swimming skills were also deemed feasible from the outset of modernisation in the twentieth century. Fishermen had for centuries been prowling in dangerous waters and losing their lives at the coastline and were now laying the foundations for economic prosperity by mechanising a growing fleet of fishing vessels. A collective effort was made to teach all children how to swim and special swimming pools— often quite primitive but filled or heated with hot spring water—set up at many school sites. Sophisticated facilities for swimming have since become popular attractions all around the country, while swimming lessons were made obligatory early on and are still required for students of all ten grades of compulsory schooling. The need for spacious sport facilities in every neighbourhood or community was also considered evident as villages and townships evolved. A relatively large sports hall or gym was found within or close by every school building in our sample, with a swimming pool within reach at a reasonable distance in the local community, if not residing on the premises within the school ground, school building or a sports hall on site (Fig. 4.4). It is also worth noting that prominent artwork by artists of renown was embedded in many school buildings erected from the 1930s onward, for example, in entrances, in lobbies or in corridors. This was to highlight the role of schools as places to foster cultural awareness of children and not merely knowledge and vocational skills (Guttormsson 2009). Legislation later also supported and mandated to a certain extent the decoration of new public buildings financed by the state with works of art (Lög um Listskreytingasjóð ríkisins, nr 71/1990), in part to support and favour art as a professional activity and produce more artwork at a both regional and national level. Hallways, halls and in particular classrooms tend to be decorated with selections of student work, decorative or artistic in part, sometimes including collective

Fig. 4.3  The insides of an extensive classroom assigned to woodwork, Iceland 2009

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Fig. 4.4  Facilities for swimming and sport, Iceland 2009

pieces of work created by a group of students under the supervision of a visiting artist. Architectonic features, such as rounded forms, exceptional surfaces, special lighting or vivid colours, are also of interest in this regard; there is an artistic flair and aesthetic ambition characterising many school buildings from both earlier and more recent times. Educational authorities rarely discuss explicitly how they tie together pedagogy and the design of a school building; conventional school design tends to be seen as the norm and taken for granted. We do, however, detect, both in policy and design, clear intentions to bring up the young as healthy and culturally aware individuals capable of applying practical skills in daily life and different vocations. A recent study (Óskarsdóttir 2014) serves to show that the most common teaching methods still follow conventional modes of instruction, characterised by one-way transmission of knowledge and individual seatwork. We did, however, also detect several instances, where teachers worked in teams and were using corridors or other adjacent spaces to attain more flexibility in their pedagogical approach.

 chools Within Schools in the Late Twentieth Century S and the New Millennium Cluster design patterns were identified in 7 buildings out of 20 in our sample. They were the predominant design feature in two of these buildings, while the other five were only partly made up of clusters. A cluster typically includes two or more regular classrooms joined by some shared space or a spacious hallway, foldable walls or exceptionally wide doors to allow for more flow between spaces, one or more breakout rooms for groups, maybe a small room assigned to students with special needs, and a room or two assigned to a group of teachers, sometimes organised as a team across two or more grade levels. The idea behind cluster design, according to Lackney (2009), is rooted in an attempt to create an atmosphere of a small school within a large school. This approach was based on studies that appeared to indicate

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Fig. 4.5  Model of clusters of classrooms with adjacent hallway areas, a small room for the teaching staff and break out rooms for multiple uses, created 2011

higher levels of participation in school activities, student satisfaction, learning achievement and social connectedness in small schools as opposed to larger institutes, and the aim was generally to create a sense of a learning community within the larger organisation of a school, most often to encourage collaboration, individualised learning, and project-based work. Elaborate clusters of regular classrooms supplemented with a selection of rooms and hallway areas, as well as different ways to connect learning spaces, were found in some of the most recent buildings we reviewed. The illustration in Fig. 4.5 reflects the footprint of a pair of two-storey classroom clusters in a larger school building chosen from our sample and inaugurated in 2000. Classrooms, hallway areas, teacher work rooms and other adjacent spaces are arranged to form three two-storey constructs, laid out on each floor as shown in the illustration. The fourth and largest two-storey construct, not included in the illustration, is a central unit housing kitchen facilities and a community hall at ground level, as well as a swimming pool and a large gym in a somewhat confined complex of spaces assigned to sports. The school building was designed just before the new millennium and was meant to be at the forefront among other schools in fostering modern ways of teaching and learning, a new school for the twenty-first century (Eiríkur Hermannson 1999). The governance policy behind the overall design is clearly reflected in the title of a brochure published on the project; the aim was to create a homely atmosphere with each cluster constituting a small school within the larger institute: The small school within the large school (Gísladóttir 2000). The building was said to be modelled based on recent Scandinavian school buildings. A speech, held by the director of schools in the municipality (Hermannsson 1999) to celebrate the new school building, underlined the importance of professional collaboration among teachers and how the building would provide opportunities for a more flexible application of learning spaces. A small room assigned to


A. K. Sigurðardóttir and T. Hjartarson

teachers operating in each cluster was intended to serve as a hub where teachers could confer on strategies and share experiences during breaks and extra hours on a daily basis. This allowed them also to be in place for their students, who might be at work in some of the adjacent learning spaces or taking a lesson break somewhere nearby the facilities (Gísladóttir 2000). Teachers of young students, in particular, appear to appreciate this setup and make less use than teachers of older students of a more centrally located teacher room assigned to the teaching staff at large (Hjartarson and Sigurðardóttir 2011).

Educational Practice in Classroom Clusters In cluster-designed schools (see, e.g., Figs. 4.5 and 4.6), regular classrooms were frequently designed to be merged on occasions with an adjacent classroom or learning space by opening up a wide doorway or folding up a wall of removable partitions. According to data from our study (Sigurðardóttir 2014), teachers, however, appeared to be making rather limited use of such design features, mostly at the lowest age level, spanning grades one to four, which serves to illustrate that uses of space may not always follow the intensions of designers or governing bodies aiming to change daily school practice. Teaching methods in cluster setups seemed to fall into a similar vein as was found in more conventional school buildings. Accessible spaces, on the other hand, such as those shown in Figs.  4.7 and 4.8, adjacent to conventional classrooms, appeared to be highly appreciated and used on a regular basis. This particular design form, the cluster setup, appeared applicable in a number of ways and could be considered to be a step towards a more radical approach promoting student-centred learning and flexibility in grouping students, sometimes across grade levels, as will be outlined in the next section.

Fig. 4.6  The insides of conventional classrooms in a school of recent cluster design, Iceland 2009

Fig. 4.7  Spaces adjacent to a cluster of conventional classrooms, Iceland 2009

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A. K. Sigurðardóttir and T. Hjartarson

Fig. 4.8  Conventional classrooms in cluster designed schools, Iceland 2009

 pen Plan Learning Spaces and Fluid Boundaries in the New O Millennium Open plan learning spaces are the dominant design feature of three school buildings constructed in 2004–2011 and included in our sample. Extensive open plan classroom spaces for large cohorts of students and teams of teaching staff members surround and share an even more extended open plan area for indoor traffic and multiple uses: project-based learning, individual work and study groups, play and relaxation. Two of these central spaces are also used as venues for an open plan school library, mostly unshielded from passing indoor traffic. Three conventional school buildings in our sample have been extended with a supplementary construct designed in an open plan fashion, and two more altered slightly or to a greater extent by breaking down walls separating two or more regular classrooms. With a new century and a new millennium came a significant shift in educational policies and school governance. The municipality of Reykjavik had begun to promote an educational policy emphasising individualised and collaborative learning and recognised the significance of school building design in school development. The governance policy addressed every aspect of school practice. School buildings were supposed to offer flexible spaces for different assignments and group sizes and even take on the role of a community centre in their neighbourhoods (Fasteignastofa Reykjavíkur and Fræðslumiðstöð Reykjavíkur 2004). Teacher  collaboration and student-centred learning were seen as being characterised to some extent by teacher teams responsible for a group of students, learning around interdisciplinary themes and increased student choice between subject areas, assignments and learning methods. This intention was to foster independent individuals, more involved in the local community and capable of participating in a fluid and democratic society (Reykjavik City Department of Education 2005). Many new buildings and supplementary construction projects were needed at the time: legislation had stipulated a longer school day, and a change was being made from a double-shift school to a single-shift schedule where all students had to attend school at more or less the same time. A detailed design process was carried out to

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prepare a number of new school buildings and reconstruction projects in the city according to the new policy, involving a carefully chosen group of consulting stakeholders at each site. The method was coined The Design Down Process and had been developed by a research group based at the University of Minnesota (Jilk 2005). It was later used in an adapted form by a number of municipalities in different parts of Iceland. The initiative, led by the municipality of Reykjavik, marked a shift in school development and governance manifested in a number of new school buildings and supplementary constructs, mostly designed in an open plan fashion (Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2016a). A few recent school buildings and supplementary constructs from our sample of school buildings represent this radical move towards age blending and integration of class groups, where teachers working in collaborative teams attend cohorts of some 40–120 students across two or more grade levels in extended classroom spaces. The aim, as it appears in governance policy documents (Fasteignastofa Reykjavíkur and Fræðslumiðstöð Reykjavíkur 2004), was to encourage initiative among teachers and students alike and adapt curriculum matter towards individual needs, in part by dividing students into small groups within the larger student body or cohort in each extended classroom space. Breakout rooms for up to 20–30 students, movable furniture, foldable walls, partitions and curtains, as well as a number of shared learning spaces, a central community hall, a school library or information centre holding a computer lab, not to forget a gym, rooms for music lessons, and facilities for arts and crafts, are used to provide an array of locations and spaces for different group arrangements, project-based learning and private work. A recent study (Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2016a), derived from our extended research project, illustrates how a detailed design process and educational policy related in a previous section were applied to define an open plan school model for large cohorts of students, envision a school building serving that model and determine its basic layout. The building was inaugurated in 2005 and is made up of several open plan classroom spaces for teacher teams and large cohorts of students, amounting to around a hundred students, most often spanning two grades and organised in two pairs of groups in each classroom space. One such space is reflected in Fig. 4.9. A section of an even more extensive space, open plan, centrally located and shared by the school community as a whole to serve as a hallway, community hall, library and canteen is indicated as a dark area at the bottom of the illustration and can be seen in Fig. 4.10. The study also served to show how school practice in the new building, after an initial period of roughly a decade, appeared to have evolved. A couple of walls had been put up to break up in part one of the open plan learning spaces to appease teachers among those attending grades eight to ten. Members of the group were previously accustomed to subject-based teaching and more inclined to divide students into subgroups by subjects and age than their colleagues attending students at the primary level, spanning grades one to seven. The latter group of teachers appeared to be relatively content and dedicated in its approach to teaching and learning in an open plan environment assigned to a collaborative team of teachers


A. K. Sigurðardóttir and T. Hjartarson

Fig. 4.9  Model of an open plan classroom with shared learning spaces for a large cohort of students and a team of teachers, created 2011

leading a large cohort of students across grade levels, most frequently working on thematic projects involving a number of subject fields, including arts and crafts. Design groups behind some of the open plan constructs included in our sample have turned out buildings with a somewhat limited space for special subjects, such as art, textiles, woodwork and home economics, compared to other schools, to allow for more room in other learning spaces and emphasise an approach where arts and crafts would be applied across subjects or disciplines in daily school practice. This goes against the Icelandic tradition and was to some extent based on the notion that working big machines and traditional handwork should be partly replaced by new technologies (Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2016a). This was met with resistance by many teachers involved and has not been copied in recent buildings of similar design. Considerable tensions and plain difficulties over a period of a few initial years in an open plan learning environment have been recorded, in particular at one site in our sample. The school was initially established in the late 1950s by erecting a constellation of central units and conventional classroom wings, but later revised in part and supplemented with a large construct of open plan design. These changes were driven by local governance in Reykjavik as was related above. Teachers had a hard time figuring out how to share and make effective use of unfamiliar and unique classroom spaces, and obvious attempts had been made to block vision through transparent partitions with decorative assignments, posters and furniture. The soundscape created by so many walls made up of glass partitions had also proven problematic. Some of these partitions had been added to accommodate the wishes of the teaching staff at a preparatory design stage and may well have turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing for teachers and students alike.

Fig. 4.10  A centrally located library in an open plan community hall, Iceland 2010

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A. K. Sigurðardóttir and T. Hjartarson

Teachers in open plan classrooms included in our sample, as opposed to those mainly positioned or operating in traditional settings, have proven not only more likely to be teaching alongside a colleague on a daily basis but also to work with colleagues on the planning of lessons or to confer with them about classroom management (Sigurðardóttir 2014). They appear to feel more involved in decision-­ making at school level and more inclined to value the professional dialogue among staff members on different school issues as being critical, objective and open. Teaching practices in open classroom environments, furthermore, seem to provide more opportunities for students to choose between tasks and a greater variety in group divisions and workspace arrangements (Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2016a, b). Team teaching and project-based work across disciplines and grades constituted the predominant pattern when it came to teaching methods and organisation of learning. Removable wall partitions were detected in some of the more extensive spaces observed in our study, such as a community hall lying next to a broad hallway or a large gym in schools of both cluster and open plan design. One of these schools also contained a special wall with an interesting design feature worth noting. This was a particular wall unit separating the backstage of a community hall from a classroom assigned to lessons in music. The wall could neither be folded up by removing partitions nor penetrated by opening up a doorway but pushed back from one side or the other to create more space when more room was needed on that side of the wall. The community hall in this particular school was partly framed in by windows and could be opened in part to be merged with a broad hallway and a spacious gym. This was said to be of particular benefit on occasions when the community hall was being used for a fair, a dance or other festivities, often involving parents and the local community. Similar options, providing opportunities to merge spaces of this kind, had been implemented in most of the recent constructs or buildings included in our sample. A recent trend has been to make the community hall a more central unit, used on a daily basis to serve as a canteen with removable furniture, a hall for social learning activities as well as cultural events, a main hallway or walkthrough area, a gallery for exhibitions and sometimes even an open plan school library, offering not only a selection of books and information resources but also facilities to read aloud and tell stories; work in groups; play cards, board games and chess; or make use of a computer lab with an array of digital tools for individual studies, as well as varied project work. This reflects national and municipal policy measures over the last few decades to give ICT prominence within daily school practice and education at large (Jakobsdóttir et al. 2014).

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Alterations in Icelandic School Design Primary and lower secondary school buildings in Iceland tend to be large and sturdy constructions of high quality, not only built to endure exceptionally stormy weathers, long winters and a moderately arctic climate but also to house an array of facilities as outlined above. Attempts to make the design of a school building comprehensible are also apparent in many buildings included in our sample; an effort has most often been made to make the building inviting, apprehensible and logical in structure, allowing, for instance, different age groups to identify their home area within each school. Arts and crafts have maintained a prominent position in general school layout from early years of schooling and up to date. Our study of 20 school buildings at the primary and lower secondary school level in Iceland reveals a recent shift in school design from a traditional classroom setting to a more open and flexible learning environment, characterised by classroom clusters and open plan spaces. This development has been taking place through overlapping periods of time from the late twentieth century up to date, most significantly in the early years of this century when a great number of construction and reconstruction projects were carried out in Reykjavik and other parts of the country. Municipal authorities in Reykjavik began at the turn of this century to explore new approaches to school practice and school design and other municipalities followed, looking for ways to encourage collaboration and student-centred learning. New schools were designed and built and a number of old school buildings revised or supplemented. New design features, such as clusters of varied learning spaces or extended classroom spaces designed in an open plan fashion for use by large cohorts of students, appear to encourage to some extent teacher collaboration and reflective practice, democratic involvement and a more positive school ethos among staff members, as well as collaborative learning, thematic group work and playful learning activities among students, often across grade levels (Óskarsdóttir 2014; Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2016a, b). Certain frustration and difficulties have been reported in school buildings during the first years of new design, in particular, in a supplementary building, where glass partitions, such as in Fig. 4.11, appeared to have been implemented to an excessive

Fig. 4.11  Unconventional learning spaces and glass wall partitions, Iceland 2010


A. K. Sigurðardóttir and T. Hjartarson

degree (Grímsson and Sigurðardóttir 2013), and in an open plan school at the lower secondary level, where a small group of teachers found it troublesome to align their subject-oriented approach and preferred teaching method of direct instruction with an open plan learning environment (Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2016a). Some shelter from walkthrough traffic and other disturbances does also appear of significance in classroom clusters and open plan spaces: clusters of learning spaces and open plan environments providing the right level of flexibility and openness combined with appropriate options or levels of shelter for individual studies, group work, rehearsals or class group activities appeared to work relatively well in daily school practice (Sigurðardóttir 2014; Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2016a; Hjartarson and Sigurðardóttir 2016). International trends have influenced educational policies and school building design in Iceland from the outset, as would be expected, but particular features characterising the national curriculum and consequently public school buildings have also been identified, in particular, an emphasis on sophisticated learning spaces used for specific purposes and disciplines, such as swimming, sport, home economics, music and arts and crafts (Bamford 2011; Óskarsdóttir 2014). This was evident in both older and more recent school buildings reviewed in our study. The community hall has also become a more central entity shared by many and used for different purposes in daily school practice, in schools of both open plan and cluster design. The symbolic value and educational importance of the school library as an information and media centre have furthermore become more evident in school buildings of recent design, the library tends to be positioned in a prominent and central location and more often than not linked to a computer lab, sometimes in an open plan fashion. We have, furthermore, affirmed an emphasis on flexibility and oversight or transparency in buildings of recent design, manifested in the use of fluid or transparent boundaries and shared spaces, movable furniture, glass partitions, curtains, foldable walls, window frames and wide door openings, allowing the teaching staff to oversee, connect, divide and merge different spaces with relative ease. It should be noted that experimental arrangements and design patterns, where regular classrooms share supplementary spaces of varied sizes and form clusters, or schools are provided with extended learning spaces for large cohorts of students and teachers working in teams, have been tried before. They have been tried at a number school sites in different countries from the latter part of the twentieth century up to date and most often returned mixed results. While some schools have been applying open or half-open learning spaces for decades now, others have gradually moved towards a more conventional learning environment. The latter was most probably a common trend following a progressive movement of the 1960s and 1970s in the last century affecting school practice in countries such as Sweden (Dudek 2000; Törnquist 2005), the UK (Dudek 2000), the USA (Cuban 2004; Lackney 2009) and Japan (Yanagisawa 2009), to name but a few. Open plan schools founded at the height of this progressive movement, according to Bennett et al. (1980), constituted an effort to create an informal, flexible environment where teachers would be able to work together and try out different forms of practice. Current ideas behind open

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plan movements of late, partly evoked by recent advances in digital technologies, fall in a similar vein, as can, for example, be derived from a municipal policy about individualised learning presented by the city of Reykjavik (Reykjavík City, Department of Education 2005) a good decade back in time or from a more recent OECD (2013) publication on innovative learning environments. To what extent these ideas are reflected in actual practice in classrooms and adjacent spaces arranged in clusters, or open plan learning spaces for large cohorts, remains debatable and calls for further research, focusing on complex sets of relations as well as forms of practice (Mulcahy et al. 2015) and the need for alignment between different elements or aspects such as the physical space, teaching organisation, staff culture and student milieu of a school (Gislason 2010, 2015). We have pointed out examples where teaching and learning were clearly affected by the physical conditions or where physical conditions have been adapted or changed to meet organisational demands. There are examples where teachers have not quite accepted or grown accustomed to open plan classrooms and walls or wall partitions have been put up to make open spaces more suitable for subject-based teaching. There are also examples where walls have been broken down between conventional classrooms to allow for more flexibility and team teaching, sometimes across grades. Open plan classrooms, in general, appear to encourage professional collaboration among the teaching staff (Sigurðardóttir and Hjartarson 2011), which seems desirable according to the literature on successful schools (Teddlie and Reynolds 2000) and teachers’ job satisfaction (OECD 2014). School buildings have been said to be visible symbols of educational conceptions (Lippman 2010; Otto 1966) and can be regarded as such from a historical point of view. We have outlined above how governance policy imposed by the city of Reykjavik at the turn of the century has led to a significant shift in the design of Icelandic school buildings, emphasising open plan spaces, spatial clusters in different constellations, transparency and fluid boundaries between varied arenas of school practice, including the community hall and the school library, as well as rooms assigned to teams of teachers and learning spaces assigned to special subjects, such as arts and crafts. The underlying aim was to promote and encourage a more democratic and reflective practice, teacher collaboration, project-based work and student-centred learning. We have pointed out some key design features and initial successes in this respect, but it will take further research based on careful attention to context and detail to determine how effective these efforts, manifested in policy and design, will seem as time goes by.

References Alterator, S., & Deed, C. (2013). Teacher adaptation to open learning spaces. Issues in Educational Research, 23(3), 315–330. Arkitektafélag Íslands. (2000). Leiðsögn um íslenska byggingarlist [Guide to Icelandic architecture]. Reykjavík: Arkitektafélag Íslands.


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Bamford, A. (2011). List- og menningarfræðsla á Íslandi [Art- and cultural education in Iceland]. Reykjavík: Mennta- og menningarmálaráðuneytið. Bennett, N., Andreae, J., Hegarty, P., & Wade, B. (1980). Open plan schools. Teaching, curriculum, design. Windsor: NFER Publishing Company for the Schools Council. Blackmore, J., Bateman, D., Loughlin, J., O’Mara, J., & Aranda, G. (2011). Research into the connections between built learning spaces and student learning outcomes: A literature review. Melbourne: State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development). Cuban, L. (2004). The open classroom. Education Next, 4(2), 68–71. Retrieved from: Dorn, S. (2011, September 4). Being careless with education history [blog]. Dudek, M. (2000). Architecture of schools. The new learning environment. Oxford/New York: Architectural Press. Fasteignastofa Reykjavíkur, & Fræðslumiðstöð Reykjavíkur. (2004). Húsnæði grunnskóla Reykjavíkur: Greining á þörf fyrir byggingar og endurbætur. [School buildings in Reykjavik: Analysis of needs for new buildings and renovations. A report made in collaboration between Reykjavík City Educational Department and Reykjavík City Building Department] Reykjavik: Fasteignastofa Reykjavíkur, & Fræðslumiðstöð Reykjavíkur. Fink, D. (2000). Good schools/real schools. Why school reform doesn’t last. New York: Teachers College Press. Gísladóttir, D. (2000). Heiðarskóli: Litli skólinn í stóra skólanum. [Heiðarskóli: The small school within the big school]. Reykjanesbær. Gislason, N. (2010). Architectural design and the learning environment: A framework for school design research. Learning Environments Research, 13, 127–145. Gislason, N. (2015). The open plan high school: Educational motivations and challenges. In P. Woolner (Ed.), School design together (pp. 101–119). New York: Routlegde. Grímsson, H., & Sigurðardóttir, A.  K. (2013). Nám og námsumhverfi 21. aldar. Væntingar og veruleiki. [Learning and learning environment in the 21st century. Expectations and reality]. Uppeldi og menntun. 22(1), 9–31. Guttormsson, L. (2009). Alþýðufræðsla á Íslandi 1880–2007. Fyrra bindi [Public education in Iceland 1880–2007. Volume I.]. Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan. Hermannsson, E. [director of schools]. (1999). An inauguration speech. Unpublished paper. Hjartarson, T., & Sigurðardóttir, A. K. (2011). Hönnun skólabygginga í deiglu nýrra kennsluhátta: Íslenskar grunnskólabyggingar við upphaf 21. aldar [The design of school buildings in a melting pot of new educational practice: Icelandic school buildings at the primary and lower secondary level in the beginning of the 21st century]. Tímarit um Menntarannsóknir, 8, 60–79. Hjartarson, T., & Sigurðardóttir, A. K. (2016). School library housing: A dynamic and democratic venue for progressive school practice? A paper in draft form presented at ECER 2016 Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers, August 25th, at the University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. Jakobsdóttir, S., Hjartarson, T., & Þórhallsdóttir, B. (2014). Upplýsingatækni í skólastarfi [ICT in school practice]. In G. G. Óskarsdóttir (Ed.), Starfshættir í grunnskólum við upphaf 21. aldar [Teaching and learning in Icelandic compulsory schools at the beginning of the 21st century] (pp. 277–319). Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan. Jilk, B.  A. (2005). Place making and change in learning environments. In M.  Dudek (Ed.), Children’s spaces (pp. 30–43). Oxford: Architectural Press. Lackney, J.  A. (2009). A design language for schools and learning communities. In R.  Walden (Ed.), Schools for the future. Design proposals from architectural design (pp.  155–168). Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe and Huber. Lippman, P. C. (2010). Evidence-based design of elementary and secondary schools. A responsive approach to creating learning environments. New Jersey: Wiley. Lög um listskreytingasjóð ríkisins, nr. 71/1990.[Acts on the official art decorations fond]. Retrieved from

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Mulcahy, D., Cleveland, B., & Aberton, H. (2015). Learning spaces and pedagogic change: Envisioned, enacted and experienced. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23(4), 575–595. https:// Nair, P. (2011, July 29). The classroom is obsolete: It’s time for something new. Education Week. Retrieved from Nair, P., & Fielding, R. (2005). The language of school design: Design patterns for 21st century schools. Minneapolis: DesignShare. OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013). Innovative learning environments. OECD Publishing. OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2014). A teachers’ guide to TALIS 2013. Teaching and learning international survey. TALIS, OECD Publishing. https:// Óskarsdóttir, G.  G. (2014). Starfshættir í grunnskólum við upphaf 21. aldar [Teaching and learning in Icelandic compulsory schools in the beginning of the 21st century]. Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan. Otto, K. (1966). School buildings. London: Iliffe. Reykjavik City Department of Education. (2005). Measurement tool on individualized and cooperative learning. Reykjavík: Reykjavik City Department of Education Retrieved from: http:// Sigurðardóttir, A.  K. (2014). Skólabyggingar og námsumhverfi [School buildings and learning environment]. In G.  G. Óskarsdóttir (Ed.), Starfshættir í grunnskólum við upphaf 21. aldar [Teaching and learning in Icelandic compulsory schools at the beginning of the 21st century] (pp. 57–83). Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan. Sigurðardóttir, A. K., & Hjartarson, T. (2011). School buildings for the 21st century: Some features of new school buildings in Iceland. CEPS Journal, 1(2), 25–43. Sigurðardóttir, A. K., & Hjartarson, T. (2016a). The idea and reality of an innovative school: From inventive design to established practice in a new school building. Improving Schools, 19(1), 62–79. Sigurðardóttir, A. K., & Hjartarson, T. (2016b). School buildings and classroom environments in Iceland. In U. Stadler-Altman (Ed.), Lernumgebungen. Erziehungswissenschaftliche perspectiven auf schulgebaude und klassenzimmer (pp. 31–48). Opladen: Barbara Budrich. Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (2000). The international handbook of school effectiveness research. London: Falmer Press. Törnquist, A. (2005). Skolhus för tonåringar:Rumsliga aspekter på skolans organisation och arbetssätt [School buildings for teenagers: Spatial aspects of school organisation and practice]. Stockholm: Arkus. Veloso, L., Marques, J.  S., & Duarte, A. (2015). Changing education through learning spaces: Impacts of the Portuguese school buildings’ renovation programme. Cambridge Journal of Education, 44(3), 401–423. Watters, A. (2015). The invented history of ‘the factory model of education’. Online article, retrieved from: Woolner, P. (2010). The design of learning spaces. New York: Continuum. Yanagisawa, K. (2009). Historical background of the Japanese school. In R. Walden (Ed.), Schools for the future. Design proposals from architectural design (pp.  35–44). Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe & Huber.

Part II

Making of Educational Places, Peoples, and Procedures/Practices

Chapter 5

Beyond the Educational Visions of the State: The Construction of School Buildings in Rural Nineteenth-Century Sweden Johannes Westberg

Abstract  While the architecture, educational ideas and material culture of nineteenth century school buildings have been properly investigated, we know less about the actual processes involved in designing and building schools. These processes are explored in this chapter, allowing the influence of local decision-makers, school designers, builders and workers on the dynamics between state governance and school design in Sweden, 1840–1900, to be examined. The analysis is based on a case study of 66 school building projects in the Sundsvall region, located in northern Sweden. In this chapter, I will argue that the local design and building processes fundamentally influenced school design. The school districts’ organisation promoted low-cost alternatives and diversity among school buildings. Builders and architects adapted schools to the local sense of aesthetics, hygiene and appropriate temperature for classrooms, as well as the local needs to accommodate the areas’ school-aged children in the planned classrooms. In addition, the morals, organisational skills and knowledge of builders and building workers resulted in a diverse quality of the school buildings. In comparison with investigations focusing on national building plans, exploration of these local factors reveals a much more complex image of the relationship between state governance and school design, showing, once again, that what you want is not always what you get.

Introduction In Sweden, as elsewhere in the Western world, the nineteenth century was a period of intense school building. As the national system of mass education grew, so did the number of school buildings, from an estimated 938  in 1839 to 8910  in 1900 (Aquilonius 1942, p. 266; BiSOS P 1900). As they were vital to the expansion of J. Westberg (*) School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



J. Westberg

mass schooling, school buildings soon became the focal point of public debate and central government intervention. Foreign school buildings were studied by Swedish schoolmen and state officials on journeys through Denmark, Germany and the USA, state school inspectors responsible for examining school buildings were instated in 1861, and national building plans (normalritningar) for schools were published in 1865 and 1878 by the Swedish central government (Westberg 2014a, 2015). Although the target of recurrent criticism, Swedish school buildings were promoted abroad as a symbol of the Swedish school system advances at world fairs such as the London Exhibition of 1871 and the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia (Lundahl and Lawn 2015). The purpose of this chapter is to take a broader view of the processes involved in designing and building schools and specifically examine how the decision-makers, builders and workers that were involved in these processes affected the quality and characteristics of schools that were actually built. In taking this approach, I will be able to elucidate how the process of designing and building schools intervened in the State’s attempts at governing the design of Swedish schools and shaped the outcome of this process in the 1840–1900 period. Using local school building projects from 12 school districts as a point of departure, the investigation presented in this chapter sheds new light on nineteenth-­ century school building. I will describe school design and building processes that were highly adapted to the needs and expectations of rural local communities. While state school inspectors and professional architects at times did participate in the initial design specifications and the construction process, parish meetings, school boards and local building contractors were instrumental in the school building process. Although craftsmen such as carpenters and blacksmiths played important roles in school building, most of the work was performed by crofters and farmers living near the building site. As a result, the design and quality of Swedish school buildings was marked by significant variations. Due to a number of reasons, including the frugality of school districts and the discrepancies in the know-how builders possessed, the standards promoted by the Swedish national building plans for primary schools were not always reached or desired. Thus, the analyses presented in this chapter will problematise the impact of state governance in the field of school design, which has thus far often been taken for granted.

School Buildings and the Building Process As noted above, the Swedish school system expanded rapidly during the second half of the nineteenth century. Although schools had already been established prior to the School Act of 1842 in almost half of Sweden’s about 2300 parishes (based on the 1839 records), the School Act mandated that Sweden’s parishes form school districts and fund at least one school. As a result, by mid-1850s, all Swedish parishes had formed school districts and had established schools. This initiative was accompanied by more extensive teacher recruitment, whereby the number of

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teachers employed increased from roughly 3458 in 1850 (Westberg 2014b, p. 57) to 7145 in 1868 and further to 16,619 in 1900 (BiSOS P 1868, 1900). Even though the School Act of 1842 included formulations on the need to build schools that were fit and decent (SFS 1842, p. 19), it was the national building plans of 1865 and 1878 that contained Sweden’s first official educational policy on primary school buildings (Öfverintendentsembetet 1865, 1878). These building plans were not binding regulations but rather served as affordable examples of school designs adapted to the educational, aesthetic and hygienic standards of the time, which the districts were encouraged to use. Most of the examples given pertained to small rural school buildings built in stone across 1 or 1.5 floors (see Fig. 5.1) that included a classroom, a dressing room and a teacher’s apartment. These schools were presented with pleasant exteriors conveying dignity without extravagance in design. All rooms were heated to 16 °C and well ventilated, and classrooms were spacious, with ceiling heights spanning 3.6–4.8 m (as per 1865 specifications) or a maximum of 4.2 m (introduced in 1878). Given the extensive scope of the national building plans, covering almost the entire process of constructing school buildings, including how school sites, building materials and the layout of classrooms should be chosen, their dual purpose was to enhance the design of schools and reduce the cost of school building (Westberg 2015). Extant research on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century school buildings has focused on national building plans and other political and pedagogical visions. Excellent studies in this field have covered, for example, Swedish national building plans (Kristenson 2005), Swiss public debate (Helfenberger 2013) and the architecture of English schools (Seaborne 1971). Vital studies have also explored the material culture of schools and schoolyards (Lawn and Grosvenor 2005; Larsson 2013), school buildings and educational ideas (Goad 2010; Benito 2003), school architects (de ConinckSmith 2010; Burke 2010), school buildings and discipline (Markus 1996; Upton 1996) and the school building as an icon or a symbol (Schroeder 1978; Cutler 1989). However, less is known about the way actual school buildings were built and the impact this had on their subsequent use. In this chapter, I may only speculate about the reasons behind this omission. Maybe it is due to the difficulties involved in investigating these matters or the emphasis that historians of education have placed on matters of national educational politics and the intervention of nation states in the development of schooling (Grew et al. 1983). Nevertheless, findings yielded by existing studies indicate that many nineteenth-century schools failed to live up to the standards set by contemporary educationalists, and scholars have presented several examples of the diverse quality of school buildings. Research conducted in Italy provides evidence on miserable so-called killer schools (Cappelli 2015, p.  53). Enquiries pertaining to Russian schools indicate that 31% of the school buildings in Voronezh (town bordering Ukraine) were damp (Eklof 1988, p.  128), and in the USA, log schools were often provided with dirt floors only (Zimmerman 2009, pp. 20–21). In some European countries, however, the situation seems to have been better. For example, despite varying quality, 69% of the schools in Zürich, Switzerland, was deemed satisfactory in 1837–1838 (De Vincenti 2015, p. 277), and


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Fig. 5.1 The national building plan’s vision for a school, built in stone. Source: Öfverintendentsembetet 1865, plate III

78% of the schools in the Gothenburg region, Sweden, were given a similar review (Westberg 2014a, p. 49). These insights into local school buildings raise questions about the relationship between state governance and actual school design and the design and building processes that produced such schools. Since schools rarely lived up to the ideals set by the State in school acts and national building plans, it is important to attempt to identify factors pertaining to building and designing schools that may account for the often low but always varying quality of nineteenth-century schools. What roles did school boards, architects and builders play in this context? Unlike the building of, for example, English country houses and public buildings, which has been the

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subject of extensive research (see, e.g. Chalklin 1998; Wilson and Mackley 2000), such questions remain largely neglected in the historiography of education. My analysis of the distance between the educational politics of school buildings and actual school design has consequently been inspired by the work of English building historians, such as Richard Wilson, Alan Mackley and Christopher Chalklin. In their encompassing studies of English country houses, churches, prisons and libraries, these scholars have explored the work of builders, the expenditure and the organisation of building projects, among many other topics (Chalklin 1979, 1998; Wilson and Mackley 1999, 2000). Apart from influencing the types of questions addressed in this chapter, such studies have also affected my choice of source materials. Instead of delimiting my investigation to printed building plans, handbooks or specifications of completed buildings, I have examined source materials related to the entire school building process. These materials include building accounts, minutes from school boards and parishes, and drawings produced by local architects and builders that worked on 66 school building projects in the Sundsvall region. Using such a broad spectrum of materials, and focusing on a single region (in this case a region where the rapid expansion of the school system created unusually rich source of data), has allowed me to delve deeper into the gap between political visions of school buildings and actual school buildings.

School Boards and Building Committees Swedish school buildings were, to a certain extent, a result of the decentralised organisation of the Swedish school system. In this system, the local school districts were responsible for building and maintaining schools. During the investigated period, the final decision of Swedish school districts was taken at parish meetings (sockenstämma) and later church meetings (kyrkostämma), in which all taxable inhabitants of the school districts had the right to participate. Attendees of the parish or church meetings also appointed the school boards, who were responsible for managing the schools of the district. The school boards frequently delegated the management of school building projects to a building committee whose members were selected either based on their expertise or as representatives of various groups (Westberg 2014a, pp. 135–46). Although available evidence indicates that school inspectors could influence decisions in certain cases (Westberg 2014a, pp. 114–16), the responsibility of determining when and how schools were to be built lay primarily with these local governing bodies. When examining why the design of actual school buildings differed from the visions of politicians and educators, the school district organisation must be considered. Since this organisation gave great responsibilities to the laymen attending parish meetings and school boards, not all decisions on future school buildings were optimal. Building history has been marked by rather romanticised notions of the organisation of building processes that still linger. Scholars have, for example, claimed that all buildings emerge from carefully considered decisions (Powell 1996,


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p. 1). Partly due to the organisation of Swedish school districts, this was not entirely the case when Swedish schools were built. While perfection may exist in heaven, human actions are, as Friedrich Nietzsche pointed out, ‘human, all too human’ (Nietzsche 1908). There are several examples of how school districts’ decisions differed from the visions formulated in the school act and the national building plans purely due to suboptimal decision-making. In many cases, school districts were unable to keep the building costs down, which was one of the above-mentioned purposes of the national building plans. In Indal, for example, the school district pursued an affordable option for their first school and consequently decided to add an additional floor to the parish house in which a classroom could be fitted. Unfortunately for the school district, the parish board members changed their mind. Counter to the available evidence and prior experience, they concluded that the building of an entirely new school would be a cheaper option. When the school was built in 1845, it became apparent that this was mistaken, which led to aggravated discussions in the parish meetings (PM1 1842, Dec 11, K1:1, Indal; PM 1844, May 12; PM 1845, April 27, K1:4, Indal). Apart from such mistakes in estimating costs and resources involved in school building, the school districts’ decisions were also shaped by other factors. For example, owing to their multifaceted economic culture, the school districts of the Sundsvall region not only strove to strike a balance between the district’s needs and resources but pursued economic decisions that were fair, reasonable and benevolent. Although this meant that the districts did not solely pursue a low-cost policy, the districts’ policy certainly exhibited thrifty traits (Westberg 2017, Chap. 3) which affected their school buildings. The school districts’ economic culture affected the building materials used. Contrary to the national building plans (Öfverintendentsembetet 1865, p. 4), which promoted schools built in stone, the Sundsvall region’s school districts chose, with a few exceptions, to build wooden schools, since that was the least expensive option in such a relatively forested area (for such arguments, see SB 1880, March 17, K2:2, Sättna). The heating sources selected by the school districts also differed from those recommended by the national building plans. The latter favoured Swedish ceramic stoves (kakelugnar) or a combination of ceramic and iron stoves (Öfverintendentsembetet 1865, 1878), since such options would provide classrooms with less variable and more comfortable heat than the sole use of iron stoves. Some school districts nevertheless preferred iron stoves, since they consumed less firewood and were cheaper to purchase (SB 1880, April 4, K3a:1, Hässjö; PM 1887, July 10 and 24, K1:7, Attmar). In contrast to the state governance through national building plans and school inspectors, the school districts’ low-cost policy also promoted diversity. In general, the school districts had three options when a new school building was required. They could build a new school, purchase an existing building or redevelop a build-

 PM is used as an abbreviation for ‘parish meeting minutes’.


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ing already owned by the parish. In the Sundsvall region, school districts tended to build new schools. During the investigated period, the school districts had 47 newly built schools, but nevertheless purchased 11 school buildings and redeveloped 8 buildings (Westberg 2014c, p. 457). The decision not to build new schools was certainly driven by financial matters. Redevelopments were by far the cheapest option, followed by purchasing buildings (see Westberg 2014c, Table 3), and the districts were aware of the price differences. When Tynderö school district, for example, chose to fit a classroom into their parish house (sockenstuga)—the building in which parish meetings and school board meetings were held—the decision was motivated by the fact that this option was cheaper than building a new school (PM 1848, Feb. 13, K1:1, Tynderö). Lower costs were also the reason behind Timrå school district’s decision to purchase a property instead of building a new school (CM 1883, Aug. 19, K1:4, Timrå). They also motivated purchase of a building in 1894 by Indal school district and by Njurunda school district in 1896 (CM2 1894, Jan. 14, K2:1, Indal; SB 1896, Oct. 23, K3a:1, Njurunda). The school districts’ efforts to keep costs down also contributed to the varying quality of school buildings. This frugal element of the districts’ economic culture may explain the low quality of certain school buildings. It was certainly not uncommon that school districts ran schools that deviated from the national building plans’ hygienic vision of warm (heated to at least 16  °C), spacious and well-ventilated classrooms that, in the latter respect, was inspired by the findings of the French physicist Jean Claude Eugène Péclet (Öfverintendentsembetet 1865, pp. 21–22). In practice, the school districts acquired and retained schools that were suboptimal in those respects. The school district of Indal, for example, purchased a school building at a low price that certainly reflected its quality. The building’s classroom was, for example, so poorly insulated that it could not be heated to more than 10 °C in wintertime (CM 1895, May 27; 1897, June 7; 1899, April 3, K2:1, Indal). Other school districts made similar cost-related decisions that ran counter to the ideals presented in the national building plans. Alnö school district, for example, decided against building a new school even though the state school inspector demanded that a new school be built, describing the existing school as ‘cramped, drafty and unhealthy’ (SB3 1888, Oct. 31, K3a:1, Alnö). In Indal, the school district was reluctant to refurbish their school. In 1864, the teacher notified the school board that the floor draft forced children to warm their feet at the fireplace. Similar complaints recurred 3  years later. Moreover, the school board argued that the school building repairs could no longer be postponed since it was possible to see through the floorboards, which were so rotten that the fireplace was in danger of collapsing. Forcing children to spend several hours each day in such conditions was described as a ‘murder on the poor children’. Nevertheless, the parish meeting attendees voted against necessary repairs, since parishioners claimed that the work that needed to be done on their parish’s parsonage would be expensive enough (SB 1864, March 6; 1867, March 17, K4a:1, Indal).  CM is used as an abbreviation for ‘church meeting minutes’.  SB is used as an abbreviation for ‘school board’.

2 3


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Apart from being affected by the nonspecialist character of the school districts’ representatives and their desire to keep costs low, the school building process was marked by a political culture that allowed rather extensive conflicts.4 As a result, decisions to build new schools were delayed, and schoolchildren were forced to attend schools that were too small or otherwise unsatisfactory. Based on the information on 28 school building projects, for which the period of the decision-making process could be established, it took on average 4.5 years from the first mentioning of the need for a new school building to the decision to build a school to be taken at a parish or church meeting. There were, however, a wide variety of outcomes. At most, it took 18 years for a proposal of a new school building to be accepted at the parish meeting (CM 1879, Feb. 29; 1897, June 7, K2:1, Indal). Nevertheless, most school districts reached the final decision within only a few years. The process was particularly efficient in Sättna, where parishioners noted in June 1879 that the need for a new school building had been long recognised. The foundation work began in May 1880, and the school building was finished in 1882 (SB 1879, June 2, K2:2, Sättna; CM 1880, May 23, K1:5, Sättna). Similarly, in Tuna, the building of a new school was discussed in December 1883, and the first invoice was paid to the builder in July 1884 (CM 1884, Feb. 10, K2:2, Tuna; Rude building account books 1884, L2:1, Tuna). Although the decision-making process was delayed for a variety of reasons, the organisation of the decision-making process was likely the main one. Taking vital decisions at parish and church meetings, where all tax paying inhabitants were welcome to participate, naturally meant that there were many opinions that had to be reconciled. The conflicts of interest pertained to a wide range of topics and included issues such as the choice of building site, aesthetical considerations and the choice of builders. Underneath this superficial discord, there were often various conflicts, such as those between villages, landowners and landless and those plainly based on acrimonious personal relationships. The first major school building project in Alnö school district is a good example of conflicts that delayed the building process. In this case, the school board noted in January 1863 that a suitable school should be built as soon as possible at a reasonable price. In March of the same year, builder J. P. Björn’s design for a new school was chosen by the parishioners with 29 votes for and only 2 votes against (SB 1863, Jan. 18, K4a:1, Alnö; PM 1863, March 8, K1:2, Alnö). The odds for being able to quickly build a school seemed favourable, but the situation in the parish meeting changed after the poll. Even though several parishioners proposed that a building committee should be chosen, no committee was established. There were also disagreements regarding the building site, and parishioners questioned the building plans despite their previous approval. Thus, by September 1864, no decision had yet been taken on where the school should be built. The apparent discord meant that the issue was not discussed again until May 1865. The parish meeting attendees finally

4  Regarding conflicts in the political culture of Swedish parishes, see also Gustafsson 1989, pp. 87–92.

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agreed on a building site, and the critique against the builder Björn’s plans was managed by discarding them and choosing the drawings of city builder Johan August Mesch instead. Although Mesch’s plans were not uncontroversial—his drawings were rejected in the parish meeting held in September 1865—they were finally approved by the parish meeting in October 1865, which meant that the actual building of the school could begin (CM 1865, May 28, June 16 Sept. 24, Oct 10, K1:2, Alnö). To summarise, the examples cited above illustrate how the local organisation of the Swedish school system—comprising of parish meetings, school boards and building committees—affected the manner in which the political and educational visions of the Swedish state were realised in the design of schools in the Sundsvall region. Partly due to economic reasons, the school districts chose to build wooden schools, rather than using stone, as promoted by the national building plans. In addition, children attended schools that were colder and more cramped relative to the standards set forth by the national building plans. The school districts’ low-cost policy also promoted diversity among school buildings, not the least since districts at times chose to remodel or purchase existing buildings. The school districts’ organisation also contributed to the sometimes severe delays in making the decisions on building new schools.

Builders, Farmers and Architects Nineteenth-century school buildings were also influenced by the decisions made by the designers involved in the actual building process. It is generally quite difficult to explore the nineteenth-century Swedish school building designs and their creators. The difficulty partly arises because professional architects were not always used in the countryside. In addition, school buildings were often built according to tradition or using existing buildings as models (Lange 2011; Almevik 2012). I have, nevertheless, identified the individuals that were denoted as school building designers in 33 of the 47 newly built schools in the Sundsvall region during the investigated period. As evident from Table 5.1, the use of a professional architect was not the school districts’ first choice in most cases. In 33 out of the 47 newly built schools, the school designer has been possible to identify. Only 12 out of 33 school buildings were designed by an individual registered as architect or drafter. Instead, districts more commonly employed a building contractor, as they did in 14 cases, or used drawings made by a mill owner, merchant, a parish priest, a farmer or a teacher. In the 14 cases where I have not been able to identify the school designer, this individual was likely not a professional architect. These local school designers certainly affected how the State’s political and educational visions of schooling were realised in actual school buildings, illustrating the fact that school building was far from a simple outcome of state governance. As


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Table 5.1  School building designers in the Sundsvall region 1840–1900 Designer Abraham Wiklund Natanael Källander Per Österlund Gustaf Lundberg Johan August Mesch Claes Westberg Johan Adolf Säve Pehr Dahlberg Jonas Sidner Eric Hägglund Gustaf Hermansson Georg Arnell J. A. Häggström Olof Noren Reinhold Hörnell

Born 1858 1867 1861 1865 1824 1802 1800 1812 1843 1803 1864 1858 ? 1821 1851

Profession Builder, industrialist City architect Architect Worker, builder City architect Mill owner Vicar Builder Teacher, organist Ship builder City architect Drafter Builder Farmer Inspector, merchant

No. of schools 7 4 4 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Source: Minutes, drawings and account books pertaining to the school districts of the Sundsvall region

the school districts’ organisation, the involvement of school designers with various backgrounds certainly promoted diversity in school design. When the architect was unknown, or the individual in charge was not a professional architect, the school design was inclined to follow the pattern of traditional residential buildings.5 This was, for example, the case in Tuna, where the school (finished in 1848) plans were drawn by the vicar Johan Adolf Säve; in Njurunda, where drawings for the school built in 1848 were made by the mill owner Claes Westberg; and in Sättna, where a school built in 1883 was designed by the farmer Olof Noren. Prior to the national building plan of 1865, all schools were designed in accordance to such building types. Following its adoption, 8 of 38 schools included in the study sample were built using such designs. The schools built in accordance with traditional building types were essentially traditional Swedish rural residential buildings fitted with a classroom. Since Swedish school buildings of that period generally included a teacher’s apartment, this gave rise to a variety of solutions. When building a one-storey building, the teacher’s apartment could be placed on the right side of the entrance and would typically comprise of two chambers and a kitchen. The square-shaped classroom was placed on the left side of the entrance (PM 1859, Nov. 13, K1:4, Hässjö). In buildings having two storeys, the classroom and the teacher’s apartment were usually on separate floors. Although these traditional building types were well known to the contemporary builders, rendering drawings unnecessary, there nevertheless exists one simple 5  These traditional building types are presented in Ek 1959, pp. 13–25. The concept of building types is discussed by Karlsmo and Löfgren 2016.

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Fig. 5.2  A layout of the rooms of the school in Tuna school district (1846). Source: PM 1845, February 22, K1:4, Tuna

drawing that illustrates the design of such a building (Fig. 5.2). The first floor of this school building included five rooms and a kitchen, at least three of which belonged to the teacher’s apartment. The second floor included an oblong classroom, described by the state school inspectors as ‘eminently arranged’, and two chambers (PM 1845, Nov. 1, K1:4, Tuna; Sundborg 1997, pp.  6–7; Inspector’s report Ljustorp, 1859, Sept. 5, G3 ha:1, DKH6). The use of traditional building types in school design obviously resulted in a significant departure from the visions of politicians and educators. This gap between envisioned and actual school designs may, in part, explain some of the critique that school buildings received for being overly dark or too cold. It is probable that many schools were not intended to meet the hygiene, heating, light or space requirements per child that were set by educators or state school inspectors. For example, the school in Indal, modelled on a traditional residential building, was described by a school inspector as ‘low, dark and unpleasant’ (PM 1854, Feb. 26, K1:4, Indal). However, such reviews did not mean that parents and children necessarily perceived these schools as inadequate or that these schools were inferior to other rural buildings of the period. Many school buildings may have been dirty, cramped and cold, but similar standards could be found in peasants’ residential buildings. Cold indoor temperatures, which meant that water froze indoors in the mornings, were, for example, a common characteristic of residential buildings in northern Sweden (Bohman 2010, pp. 119–23). The lack of professional expertise may, however, also explain the significant impact that the national building plans had on Swedish school buildings. The national building plans presented builders, who neither had the interest to build other kinds of schools nor the access to other relevant school designs, with an easily

 DKH is used as an abbreviation for ‘The Cathedral Chapter in Härnösand’.



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accessible and state-recommended basic structure for a school building.7 This did not, however, imply that all architects built schools following their own design. In the Sundsvall region, architects also used existing building plans as models. For example, the architect Per Österlund’s plans for a school in Timrå were based on Plate 2 included in the national building plans of 1865 (SB 1898, June 30, K3a:1, Timrå). The impact of the national building plans on actual schools was manifested in various ways. Most important was perhaps the T-shape of the schools, with the rectangular classroom built transversely to the building structure where the teacher’s apartment was located. Indeed, six of eight drawings presented in the national building plans of 1865 had this shape, which was adopted in 19 of 38 schools built after 1865  in the Sundsvall region. The influence of national building plans was also evident in the 12 cases when school districts explicitly stated that they had decided to employ a national building plan. Five of these schools were based on Plate 11a in the 1878 edition of the building plans. This model featured a rectangular classroom intended for 64 pupils, a room specifically designated for the teaching of sloyd, a dressing room for the children and a teacher’s apartment (see Fig. 5.3). Although school districts often modelled their schools after the national building plans, some deviations existed. As mentioned above, for durability and fire safety reasons, the national building plans promoted schools built out of stone (Öfverintendentsembetet 1865). In the forested Sundsvall region, however, the school districts opted for using wood instead, as it was readily available and thus cheaper. The school districts’ decisions were also guided by aesthetic and practical considerations that differed from those of the national building plans. While the national building plans argued against two-storey buildings—which was perceived as not only unpractical but also spoiled the appearance of the school—the school districts of the Sundsvall region often made use of two-storey buildings. Indeed, more than half of their schools had at least two storeys. This departure from the recommendations could be attributed to the need to provide a teacher’s apartment, which was easier if the building had a second floor. The appearance of two-storey buildings was also aligned with the aesthetic sense of the nineteenth century countryside, which due to the increasing profits of the agricultural sector saw a growing number of two-storeyed buildings (Ulväng 2004). The school districts also made adjustments to accommodate a greater number of pupils than originally planned. When Plate 1a (Öfverintendentsembetet 1878), for educational reasons, suggested a classroom intended for 30 pupils, the school board of Njurunda enlarged the classroom to fit 40 pupils in order to accommodate all children residing in the vicinity of the school (SB 1898, Jan 1, K3a:1, Njurunda). The school board of Njurunda also made adjustments to the aforementioned Plate 11a (Öfverintendentsembetet 1878). Originally, it included a room specifically intended for sloyd, which was a school subject that the Swedish state actively promoted with the purpose of strengthening both the aesthetical taste of the individual 7  For a similar explanation to the impact of national building plans in Sweden, see Kristenson 2005, pp. 67–68.

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Fig. 5.3  Drawing of a school (including a sloyd room) intended for 64 children. Source: Öfverintendentsembetet 1878, Plate 11a

and the economic strength of the Swedish nation (Sörensen 1942). These aims were reflected in the national building plans but were not always deemed important at the local level. In the case of Njurunda, the school board remodelled the sloyd room into an ordinary classroom, in order to accommodate an increasing number of school-aged children (SB 1898, Oct 10, K3a:1, Njurunda). Thus, the educational


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Fig. 5.4  Drawing of a school in Skön school district (1897) by Gustaf Hermansson and Natanael Johannes Källander. Source: 06c:1, Skön

visions of the national building plans were transformed to fit the needs of local school districts. The educational visions of the national building plans were also reshaped when professional architects were employed. When they were given the task of designing schools, this meant that school buildings, on occasion, departed significantly from both traditional building types and the national building plans. The most conspicuous example of this practice was the school of Skönsberg, designed by the city architects Gustaf Hermansson and Natanael Johannes Källander. These architects had training and professional experience that set them apart from most builders and school building designers in the Sundsvall region. City architect Gustaf Hermansson, for example, designed churches and buildings for teacher seminars all over Sweden and later held high positions at the Board of Public Buildings and the General Building Board (Arkdok, s.v. ‘Gustaf Hermansson’). City architect Källander succeeded him, following training in Stockholm, and designed many buildings in Sundsvall and elsewhere during his 39-year-long tenure as the city architect of Sundsvall (Sundsvalls Tidning, June 24, 1917). The training and expertise these architects possessed enabled them to design schools that differed significantly from the visions of the national building plans. This departure is evident in the design of the school of Skönsberg (see Fig. 5.4), which was one of the biggest and most expensive school buildings of the Sundsvall region, measuring 23.2 × 16 m. In contrast to the comparatively small rural school buildings that the national building plans focused on, this school featured two floors. The first floor included 2 classrooms for 64 children each, as well as 2 classrooms for 48 children each. The teacher’s apartment, a classroom intended for the instruction of sloyd, a storage room and a dressing room were accommodated on the ­second floor (CM 1898, Sept. 18, K2a:2, Skön; Ritning till folkskola å Skönsberg, O6c:1, Skön). In sum, the diverse backgrounds of builders and school building designers contributed to the wide variety of school building designs adopted in the rural Sundsvall

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region. Although the national building plans were influential in this process, this diversity meant that there was not a shared experience of school buildings during the nineteenth century. Significant differences existed even in the small Sundsvall region. The use of not only professional architects but also builders, teachers and farmers as school designers underpinned these differences and enabled schools to be built using the national building plans and traditional building types or following original drawings produced by professional architects. As a result, the schools that were realised in the Sundsvall region often departed significantly from the educational visions promoted by the national building plans. Instead of being an expression of national building plans, the schools were adapted to the local sense of aesthetics, hygiene and appropriate temperature for classrooms, aiming to meet the need to accommodate all local school-aged children in the planned classrooms.

Day’s Work, Piecework and Contract Work Once school boards, building committees and school designers had made their decisions, the actual construction work could commence. After the initial foundation work, the construction continued by erecting the timbered frame of the school building. Thereafter, the schools were provided with a roof and a floor, before being painted and furnished. The length of this process is, naturally, difficult to determine. However, judging from the 19 building projects for which this information is available, the process took on average 1.5 years. The speed of the building process was, at least partly, determined by the seasons. Building materials, including timber and bricks, were usually transported during winter, when roads were frozen and thus passable. Foundation and building work was usually conducted during summer and autumn, when working conditions were good (Westberg 2014a, pp. 203–06). Although extant investigations into the social history of labour have focused on construction workers to a disproportionately high degree (Woodward 1995, p. 3), we know very little about those who worked at school building sites. This limited attention on the subject is likely due to the scarcity of relevant source materials and the sheer amount of work required to identify the workers involved in school building projects. Nevertheless, three building accounts in the Sundsvall region have allowed me to identify 121 construction workers. These labourers were, with only two exceptions, men. Most of them were middle-aged and predominantly resided in the school district. Three quarters of the workers were living in the school district, and when workers from other parts of the region were hired, they were often craftsmen and specialists, equipped with titles such as tin smith, mason or painter. Although from the twenty-first-century perspective, it would be expected that schools were mainly built by craftsmen that was not the case in the rural Sundsvall region. Instead, the landless and semi-landless population (including crofters, cottagers and lodgers) constituted 51% of the labour force and, together with farmers (27%), served as the main labour force at these school buildings (see Fig.  5.5).

110 Fig. 5.5  The social background of the workforce at school building sites (percentages). For a presentation of the sources and the analysis, see Westberg 2014a, pp. 386–89

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5 17

Landless or semi-landless 51


Farmers Craftsmen Officials and industrialists

Fig. 5.6  Carpenters at a building site, slightly west of the Sundsvall region. Source: Sundsvall’s Museum. The picture was taken by the carpenter, journalist and photographer Per Lind (1862– 1914) in 1898

Craftsmen (Fig. 5.6) comprised 17% of the workers, followed by various officials and industrialists (5%). In the Sundsvall region, the building work was organised as day’s work (dagsverken), piecework (beting) or contract work (entreprenad). When the day’s work system was used, the labour was organised in number of work days conducted by individual persons. Until the late nineteenth century, a day’s work in Sweden usually corresponded to 12 h of work (Lindahl et al. 1937, pp. 14–16). Piecework meant

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that workers were paid for performing a task regardless of time spent. During the eighteenth century, piecework had become an increasingly common method for remunerating farm workers in Sweden (Myrdal 1996, p.  150). Apart from day’s work and piecework, school districts also organised school building by contracting out parts of (such as the foundation work or the timbering of the school) or the whole task of building a school to a builder. The organisation of the labour force promoted the diversity among school buildings evident in Sweden and elsewhere in the nineteenth century. These diverse ways of organising the school building process had advantages and disadvantages that were reflected in the schools that were built. Day’s work, for example, made it easy to organise and remunerate labourers, since the work conducted did not have to be specified beforehand. In addition, day’s work did not encourage skimping. Each worker was remunerated per day’s work, regardless of the amount of work conducted. This, however, meant that workers had no motivation to work faster (Utterström 1957, pp. 875–76). In the Sundsvall region, corvée labour, that is, the labour that was taxed from the inhabitants of the school district, was generally organised in terms of day’s work. This practice was frequently employed during the first half of the investigated period, when half of the 16 schools built in the 1840–1870 period used levied day’s work. As available evidence indicates, this practice had evident advantages. By taxing inhabitants for the necessary labour, which could amount to, for example, 254 day’s work on foundations (CM 1880, Dec. 12, K2:1, Indal), monetary costs were kept low. Nevertheless, corvée labour had important drawbacks. Employing all taxable (male) parishioners, regardless of their construction work skills and experience, adversely affected the quality of the results, which was explicitly noted when schools were built in Njurunda and Alnö. In Alnö, the parish meeting attendees stated their preference for craftsmen, since they could conduct the necessary building work faster and better than ‘often useless day workers’ (PM 1855, Aug. 5, K1:2, Alnö; PM 1847, Dec. 4, K1:3, Njurunda). Unlike day’s work, the piecework system encouraged workers to perform their tasks quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, the need to finish their tasks as soon as possible could also make workers careless (Myrdal 1996, p. 151). Consequently, piecework was supposed to be used for simple and well-defined tasks (Myrdal 1996, p. 149). When building schools, the work of craftsmen, such as stove makers, blacksmiths and glaziers, was often organised in this manner. However, not only qualified tasks were managed through piecework but also other well-defined tasks, such as transport of building materials (see, e.g. Receipt no 29, 1866, May 18; no 67, 1866, Oct. 16, H1:1, Alnö). One of the major consequences of day’s work and piecework was that these labour management practices put a great administrative burden on school boards and building committees, tasked with organising and remunerating all construction workers. The amount of administrative work required is reflected by the 112 entries in the building accounts of Alnö school district in 1865−1869 and the 170 entries in the building accounts of Tynderö school district 1876−1879. When school boards and building committees were unable to cope with this administrative burden, mis-


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takes were made. A school in Attmar school district received, for example, an additional floor since the site manager did not follow the orders of the parish meeting attendees, whose representatives first inspected the school building once it had been completed (PM 1847, June 13, K1:5, Attmar). To reduce their workload, school districts contracted out parts or the entire task of building a school. Contracting out construction work to several builders meant that the school board and the building committee retained some control over the building process. Multiple contracts also meant that districts could keep the costs down by allowing contractors to compete for each part of the building process. On the other hand, single contracts required even less effort from school boards and building committees, while enabling building promoters to determine the cost of a building in advance (Chalklin 1998, p. 83). Single contracts also gave school districts greater leverage with respect to project completion dates, since only one contractor was responsible for the entire building. This opportunity was exploited by the school districts of the Sundsvall region (see, e.g. SB 1883, July 22, K2:2, Sättna; SB 1892, July 10, K4a:2, Njurunda). Along with the aforementioned advantages of single and multiple contracts, there were disadvantages that affected the building process and the completed building. Multiple contracts could compromise cooperation between contractors, which delayed building completion (Chalklin 1998, p. 84). In the Sundsvall region, Indal school district gave the stoneworker Sundberg the contract for completing the foundation of a school building. Upon receiving the contract, Sundberg became ill, which delayed the foundation work and prevented Abraham Johansson, who was contracted for building the school, from starting his work. Johansson, who had contracts on other buildings, was thereafter not able to perform his work, and the district was therefore forced to find a new contractor for the building (CM 1897, Jan. 24, K2:1, Indal). When Sundberg’s health improved, he completed the foundation, but the work quality was unfortunately inadequate and thus further delayed the school building process. The deficiencies included an uneven foundation wall, as well as incorrectly dug drains (CM 1897, Nov. 14, K2:1, Indal). As exemplified by stoneworker Sundberg’s misfortunes in Indal, the use of multiple or single contracts could significantly affect the quality of the building. Chalklin’s research on government buildings in England has shown that single contracts could tempt contractors to compromise on work quality in order to complete buildings at the lowest possible cost, thus maximising the profit. For building promoters, it was also difficult to assess whether the contractor had the financial resources and the competence necessary to perform the required work (Chalklin 1998, p. 84). These issues were well known in Sweden. Choosing the wrong building contractor for church buildings was not an uncommon experience in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, which may be illustrated by a vicar’s stated desire that a parish church not be built by ‘cheaters, as often happens’ (Fernlund 1989, p. 15). Such experiences were also shared by school districts. A state school inspector noted in 1899 that schools ‘not infrequently’ required rigorous repairs just a few years after project completion due to mismanagement by building contractors (Laurell 1900, p. 17).

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Similar experiences with building contractors were noted in the Sundsvall region. Contractors could engage in fraudulent behaviour (N:42, app. Be, 1889, Jan. 3, A1a:22, Selånger district court; CM 1883, Aug. 12, K1:5, Sättna). The use of building contractors could also affect school design. In Tuna, for example, the farmer Olof Hällström was presented with the task of building a school comprising of two classrooms and two teacher’s apartments. Hällström, who died shortly after the school building’s completion aged only 48, had neither the financial competence nor the necessary building expertise. After completion, many questions remained regarding how Hällström actually spent the funds that he was given. The school building also failed to pass the building inspection. Two knowledgeable carpenters noted that the foundation, the roof trusses and the roof ridges needed to be strengthened. The building was later described as ‘haphazardly built, failed and bungled’ in an investigation requested by the church meeting (SB 1886, March 31 and May 31; Report on Rude school building 1891, October 24, K2:3, Tuna). Apart from exemplifying a building project gone wrong, the school building in Rude illustrates the specific risks associated with single contracts. From the perspective of the objective of this chapter, this case thus also illustrates how the choices made when organising the construction work could affect the results and, in the case of the school in Rude, lead to unwanted outcomes. Hence, the case of the Rude school building also exemplifies how the building process could affect the resulting construction of school buildings. In contrast to the educational visions of the national building plans, actual school buildings were built by men and consequently suffered from their individual shortcomings, as well as the drawbacks that marked each method of organising building work.

Conclusions This chapter has been devoted to the process of designing and building schools and how local decision-makers, school designers, builders and workers influenced the dynamics between state governance and school design. Consequently, I have shown that school buildings were far from a simple outcome of the state policies expressed in school acts and national building plans but were rather the result of a complex process that defined whether, and how, the educational visions of the Swedish state was materialised into actual school buildings. In this chapter, I have indicated some of the ways in which school design was shaped by the design and building process. The organisation of local school districts, which presented laymen with great responsibilities, meant not only that sometimes suboptimal decisions were taken but also that considerations other than those of purely educational nature were taken into account. The school districts did not only pursue the aesthetic, hygienic and educational visions of the central government but also adopted a low-cost policy that affected the kind of schools that were built. The governing bodies of school districts were hesitant to improve schools that were described as cold, cramped and unhealthy, and generally chose to build


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wooden schools and purchase iron stoves, since these were the more affordable options in the Sundsvall region. This frugal outlook also affected the kind of schools that were built. In order to keep costs down, school districts often decided to remodel existing buildings into schools or purchase school buildings instead of building new schools. The discussions presented in this chapter have also shown how the relation between state governance and school design was modified by the school designers involved. As was presented in the preceding sections, professional architects played a comparatively minor role in school building in the Sundsvall region. Only 12 of 33 schools included in the study sample were designed by architects or drafters. Above all, the use of school designers with differing backgrounds promoted diversity among school buildings. In addition, by hiring nonprofessional architects, school districts were inclined either to model their schools after traditional rural building types or the national building plans published in 1865 and 1878. These sources offered simple school design examples and guidelines for those lacking professional training. When school districts hired professional architects, these individuals could further increase the diversity among school buildings by using their expertise to design schools independently from building types and national building plans. Diversity also marked the organisation of the actual construction work. As noted above, each type of organisation had its advantages and disadvantages. Day’s work levied as corvée labour from all (male) taxable parishioners reduced the monetary expenditure on schooling but also meant that some construction work was performed by unskilled individuals—the so-called useless day workers. Piecework could accelerate the construction work but also tempt workers to cut corners to maximise their pay. Contracting out a part of the construction work eased the administrative burden of school boards and building committees, but also meant that vital responsibilities were transferred to a building contractor who did not necessarily have the moral stance or the knowledge required to implement a successful school construction. Regardless of the extent to which these advantages and disadvantages were realised in practice, the use of varying organisational forms contributed to the diverse quality of school buildings and occasional outright failures. In sum, the analyses presented in this chapter have demonstrated that nineteenth-­ century schools were not the product of a deliberate and straightforward decision-­ making process based on the educational visions of school acts and national building plans. Although national building plans remain vital for our understanding of nineteenth-­century school buildings, as well as the discourses surrounding them, I have shown that such investigations cannot omit the design and building process if we are to fully understand the schools that were actually built. Although school design is certainly a matter of political and educational visions, encapsulating notions of, for example, discipline, hygiene and citizenship, the design of actual schools was determined by complex processes that cannot be reduced to the visions of school architects and educationalists. Above all, these design and building processes enable us to explain the diversity that marked nineteenth-century school buildings, in Sweden and elsewhere.

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Diversity, deficiencies or deviations from normal building plans were not merely an issue of indifference, lack of ability or frugality but rather reflect the complexity of design and building processes that involved various kinds of individuals and diverse considerations. The diversity of nineteenth-century school buildings thus stem from significant divergence among construction and design processes, as well as differences among individuals involved in such projects. Thus, this chapter encourages further investigations into the various local, regional and national histories of school building.

References Archival Sources Parish archives at the Regional State Archive in Härnösand (Landsarkivet i Härnösand). Alnö, Attmar, Hässjö, Indal, Ljustorp, Njurunda, Selånger, Skön, Sättna, Timrå, Tuna, Tynderö. The Cathedral Chapter in Härnösand (Domkapitlet i Härnösand, DKH). Selånger district court (Selångers tingslag). Revisorers verkställda granskning. N:42, Bil. Be till utslag, 1889, January 3, A1a:22, Lagtima höstting.

Printed References Almevik, G. (2012). Byggnaden som kunskapskälla. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gotheburgensis. Aquilonius, K. (1942). Svenska folkskolans historia: Del 2. Det svenska folkundervisningsväsendet 1809–1860. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers förlag. Benito, A.  E. (2003). The School in the city: School architecture as discourse and as text. Paedagogica Historica, 39(1), 53–64. BiSOS P. (1868-1900). Bidrag till Sveriges officiella statistik. Sweden: Undervisningsväsendet. Bohman, S. (2010). Omsorg om livet: Spädbarnsdödlighetens förändring i Ådalen under 1800-­ talet. Uppsala: Uppsala University Library. Burke, C. (2010). Putting education in its place: Mapping the observations of Danish and English architects on 1950s school design. Paedagogica Historica, 46(5), 655–672. Cappelli, G. (2015). Escaping from a human capital trap? Italy’s regions and the move to centralized primary schooling, 1861–1936. European Review of Economic History, 20(1), 46–65. Chalklin, C.  W. (1979). Prison building by the county of Berks, 1766–1820. Berkshire Archæological Journal, 69, 61–71. Chalklin, C. W. (1998). English counties and public building, 1650–1830. London: Hambledon Press. Cutler, W. (1989). Cathedral of Culture: The schoolhouse in American educational thought and practice since 1820. History of Education Quarterly, 29(1), 1–40. de Coninck-Smith, N. (2010). Danish and British architects at work: A micro-study of architectural encounters after the second world war. History of Education, 39(6), 713–730. De Vincenti, A. (2015). Schule der Gesellschaft: Wissensordnungen von Zürcher Unterrichtspraktiken zwischen 1771 und 1834. Zürich: Chronos.


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Ek, S.  B. (1959). Nybildning och tradition: Förändringar inom allmogens bostadsskick i norra Ångermanland. In B. Hellman (Ed.), Arkiv för norrländsk hembygdsforskning 1959–60 (Vol. XVI, pp. 7–124). Härnösand: Kulturhistoriska föreningen Murberget. Eklof, B. (1988). Kindertempel or shack? The school building in late imperial Russia (A case study of backwardness). Russian Review, 47(2), 117–143. Fernlund, S. (1989). Kyrkobyggande i Skåne 1760–1860. In E. Cinthio, P.-O. Karlsson, & W. M. Pardon (Eds.), Kyrkobyggnader 1760–1860. Del 1: Skåne och Blekinge. (pp.  295, Sveriges kyrkor,. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International. Goad, P. (2010). A chrome yellow blackboard with blue chalk’: New education and the new architecture: Modernism at Koornong school. History of Education, 39(6), 731–748. Grew, R., Harrigan, P. J., & Whitney, J. (1983). The availability of schooling in nineteenth-century France. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 14(1), 25–63. Gustafsson, H. (1989). Sockenstugans politiska kultur: Lokal självstyrelse på 1800-talets landsbygd. Stockholm: Stadshistoriska institutet. Helfenberger, M. (2013). Das Schulhaus als geheimer Miterzieher. Normative Debatten in der Schweiz von 1830 bis 1930. Bern: Haupt Verlag. Karlsmo, E., & Löfgren, E. (2016). Historiography of Swedish building types. Konsthistorisk tidskrift/Journal of Art History, 85(1), 8–28. Kristenson, H. (2005). Skolhuset: Idé och form. Lund: Signum. Lange, U. (2011). Ladugården: Om lantbrukets bebyggelse och arkitektur 1600–2000. Stockholm: Nordiska museets förlag. Larsson, A. (2013). A children’s place? The school playground debate in postwar Sweden. History of Education, 42(1), 115–130. Laurell, F. e. (1900). Upsala stift: Domprosteriet, Vaksala, Närdinghundra m.fl. kontrakt. In Berättelse om folkskolorna i riket för åren 1893–1898. Stockholm: P. A. Nordstedt & söner. Lawn, M., & Grosvenor, I. (2005). Materialities of schooling: Design – technology – objects – routines. Oxford: Symposium books. Lindahl, E., Dahlgren, E., & Kock, K. (1937). Wages, cost of living and National Income in Sweden 1860–1930: Part two. London: P.S. King & Norstedt. Lundahl, C., & Lawn, M. (2015). The Swedish schoolhouse: A case study in transnational influences in education at the 1870s world fairs. Paedagogica Historica, 51(3), 319–334. Markus, T. (1996). Early nineteenth century school space and ideology. Paedagogica Historica, 32(1), 9–50. Myrdal, J. (1996). Betingsläror och arbetsåtgång i lantbruket. In A. Perlinge (Ed.), Landbon, ladan och lagen och hägnaderna, arbetstiden och bygdelaget samt ytterligare 20 agrarhistoriska artiklar (pp. 147–161). Stockholm: Kungl. Skogs- och lantbruksakademien. Nietzsche, F. (1908). Human, all too human: A book for free spirits. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr. Öfverintendentsembetet. (1865). Normalritningar till folkskolebyggnader jemte beskrifning. Stockholm: s.n. Öfverintendentsembetet. (1878). Normalritningar till folkskolebyggnader jemte beskrifning: Andra omarbetade upplagan. Stockholm: s.n. Powell, C. G. (1996). The British building industry since 1800: An economic history. London: E. & F. N. Spon. Schroeder, F. E. H. (1978). The little red schoolhouse. In R. B. Brown & M. Fishwick (Eds.), Icons of America (pp. 139–160). Bowling Green: Popular Press. Seaborne, M. (1971). The English school: Its architecture and organization 1370–1870. London: Routledge. SFS. (1842:19). Kongl. Maj:ts Nådiga Stadga angående folk- underwisningen i Riket; Gifwen Stockholms Slott den 18 Junii 1842. Sundborg, P. (1997). Kyrkskolan i Tuna: Dokumentation inför rivningen 1997. Sundsvall: Sundsvalls museum. Sundsvalls tidning, June 24, 1917

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Sörensen, A. (1942). Svenska folkskolans historia: Del 3. Det svenska folkundervisningsväsendet 1860–1900. Stockholm: Bonniers. Ulväng, G. (2004). Hus och gård i förändring: Uppländska herrgårdar, boställen och bondgårdar under 1700- och 1800-talens agrara revolution. Hedemora: Gidlund. Upton, D. (1996). Lancasterian schools, republican citizenship, and the spatial imagination in Early nineteenth-century America. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 55(3), 238–253. Utterström, G. (1957). Jordbrukets arbetare levnadsvillkor och arbetsliv på landsbygden från frihetstiden till mitten av 1800-talet. Första delen. Stockholm: Tiden. Westberg, J. (2014a). Att bygga ett skolväsende: Folkskolans förutsättningar och framväxt 1840– 1900. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. Westberg, J. (2014b). En politisk illusion? 1842 års folkskolestadga och den svenska folkskolan. Uddannelseshistorie, 48, 52–70. Westberg, J. (2014c). How much did a Swedish schoolhouse cost to build? Rewriting the history of nineteenth century rural schoolhouses. Scandinavian Journal of History, 39(4), 448–471. Westberg, J.  (2015). Referring to international examples, adjusting to local realities: Swedish nineteenth century rural schoolhouses. Bildungsgeschichte. International Journal for the Historiography of Education, 5(1), 25–40. Westberg, J.  (2017). Funding the Rise of Mass Schooling: The Social, Economic and Cultural History of School Finance in Sweden, 1840–1900. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Wilson, R.  G., & Mackley, A. (1999). How much did the English country house cost to build, 1660–1880? Economic History Review, 52(3), 436–468. Wilson, R.  G., & Mackley, A. (2000). Creating paradise: The building of the English country house 1660–1880. London: Hambledon. Woodward, D. (1995). Men at work: Labourers and building craftsmen in the towns of Northern England, 1450–1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zimmerman, J.  (2009). Small wonder: The little red schoolhouse in history and memory. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Chapter 6

Creative Discipline in Education and Architecture: Story of a School Thomas Bellfield, Catherine Burke, Dominic Cullinan, Emma Dyer, and Karolina Szynalska

Abstract  The relationship between school buildings and their pedagogies is complex. There is a consensus that the built environment through its structure and organisation can impact education, but it is often unclear or unknown how this happens in individual cases. Here we examine one design process, which led to the construction of a secondary school in England. Driven by an ethos of collaboration, it resulted in a structure that aimed to favour the students, and not the institution’s need for controlling them, and it supports collaborative project-based learning. We discuss in detail the design epistemology (‘creative discipline’) of the architectural practice that facilitated this process, and the employed method (‘spin painting’ diagrams). We argue that this unique procedure was a catalyst for stimulating collective decision-making, and the visual method employed was a tool for translating the pedagogical model into a tangible structure. It was invented specifically to facilitate generating a shared vision as a necessary condition of compatibility between the school’s educational approach and the building’s affordances for learning.

Introduction At the heart of this book are the following two questions: How does the making of education take place and shape through material school design and how does this process have the potential to expand the meaning and possibilities of governance? Besides changing architectural styles and associated innovations in technologies of design and construction, school buildings demonstrate changing values about T. Bellfield · C. Burke (*) · E. Dyer · K. Szynalska Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected] D. Cullinan Studio Cullinan and Buck Architects Limited (SCABAL), London, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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education and illuminate the organisational relationships thought essential to achieving these. Architecture is propositional. It offers opportunities for action, but it does not determine them. It is relational; it consists of affordances, which depend on its properties as well as people’s perceptions of them. For architecture to do what it is intended to do, it requires a successful dialogue between the architect and the custodians. The theory and practice of ‘creative discipline’, which we will discuss in the context of this case study, is a complex design methodology and metaphor. The term was coined by Dominic Cullinan, a codirector of SCABAL architectural studio, to describe the conceptual approach and design practice of his firm. It was used to articulate a series of linked research projects carried out by the authors of this chapter. Subsequently, this initial work defined the principles of research through design which have been (and continue to be) drawn on through the three ongoing doctoral studies.1 This chapter will describe in detail the story of one school design initiative, with its unique form of collaboration and ‘creative discipline’ that was introduced into the design process. In telling the story of the making of the Academy,2 we will specifically discuss the development of a visual tool, which was created to facilitate the manipulation of the key ingredients of the final pedagogical and organisational design brief. These are the fixed requirements (the discipline) together with the flexible and open to interpretation elements (the creativity). This metaphor helped SCABAL to conceptualise the balance between the necessities of producing a tangible design proposition that has the capacity for change. We will consider building design as governance and will reflect on intentions and unintended outcomes of the relationship between education and architecture.

Policy Context During the first decade of the twenty-first century, education was the UK New Labour Government’s top priority (DfES 2003, p. 1). Launched in 2003, the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) capital programme was the government’s largest and most expensive project (DfES 2003; James 2011, p. 10). The then Prime Minister Tony Blair declared the investment would ‘see the entire secondary school building stock upgraded and refurbished in the greatest school renewal programme in British history’ (Prime Minister’s Office 2004), and it was described by a spokesperson for the DfES as ‘the biggest schools capital investment project since the Victorian era’ (Curtis 2004). The BSF programme had many similarities in its assumptions about school buildings to the post-war programme (Woolner et  al. 1  These studies explore various aspects of the relationship between school design and the experience of education. They are collaborative doctoral awards, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), for collaborative research into architecture and education and include a substantial period of time spent in the offices of SCABAL. 2  The Academy, not the real name, is the title of the school we will use throughout the chapter.

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2005, p. 35). There were similarities between the BSF and post-war programme in terms of assumptions about school buildings, and BSF also adopted innovative concepts from the post-­war programme such as consultation with architects and education and a consideration of how future changes to pedagogy might impact the physical design of the building (Woolner et al. 2005, p. 35). The aim of BSF was to rebuild or refurbish all secondary schools in England by 2020. Each secondary school was to excel in providing the central core of learning and to have ‘a clear mission and ethos, so that it makes its own distinctive contribution’ (DfEE 2001, p. 11). Unlike ‘many school buildings [that] are of poor design, are dull and uniform and have institutional look’ (DfES 2002, p. 4), the new facilities were to focus on achieving a more diverse curriculum, ‘new ways of learning’, diversity and accessibility (DfES 2002, p. 4). The impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) was thought to be critical to success. The rhetoric that accompanied the BSF programme implied that the new schools themselves would contribute to educational outcomes and could bring about educational transformation (CABE 2007). But it was up to individual partnerships between schools, sponsors and architects to establish the distinctive character of pedagogy (new ways of learning) and architecture that was expected to be transformative. Ultimately many schools built under the BSF produced very little educational transformation. Although they were often architecturally exciting, they were often viewed as technologically advanced envelopes to house antiquated school system arranged into a set of classrooms. Indeed, the review of capital investment in school buildings and facilities, commissioned by the coalition government, the James Review, found ‘little evidence of genuinely innovative designs that radically improved the educational agenda’ (James 2011, p. 54).

The Academy Academies are state-maintained but independently run schools. In line with the policy, they were able to be established by sponsors from the private and voluntary sectors, while their running cost was to be met by the state. They received their funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority. Since 2010 all new schools in England are academies. Originally, they intended to offer ‘a radical option to help raise achievement in areas of historic underperformance by bringing a new and distinctive approach to school management and governance’ (DfEE 2001, p. 49). The Academy’s sponsor, a university with very strong liberal tradition, believed that in sharing facilities and expertise and providing support to teachers and pupils, it could bring a fundamental improvement in the educational experience of pupils in the school and the community around it. Reciprocally, the school was expected to be a research field for the university. The Academy was planned with input from academics. The university was keen to demonstrate that this new model of comprehensive school can provide outstanding state education. It


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Fig. 6.1  The Academy from the outside. Photo by Dominic Cullinan

proposed to extend the traditional curriculum and to promote interdisciplinary problem-­solving and applied learning. The Academy is a state secondary school open to the local community with no fees. The building has a gross internal floor area of over 10,000 m2 and was constructed between 2011 and 2013 at a total cost of £26m. The building construction was funded with private capital using the private finance initiative (PFI). The contract was delivered through an especially commissioned consortium orchestrated by the local authority and in partnership with the Academy sponsor. Such complex projects require services of a Client Design Advisor (CDA) and Dominic Cullinan was appointed to that role. A celebrated architectural practice won the competitive tender to design the school. The new school and the new school building opened in January 2013 and reached its full capacity of 1150 pupils from September 2016. It is a smaller than average school of this type and serves a socio-economically diverse neighbourhood. The latest figures (June 2016) show that around nine out of ten pupils are of black, Asian and minority ethnic heritage and that a large proportion of pupils do not speak English as their first language. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils, who are supported by the pupil premium, is well above average.3 The proportion of pupils who have special education needs or disabilities is above average. The six-storey building is situated on a busy road intersection in central London (Fig. 6.1). Located on a tight corner plot, it curves around a south-facing outdoor 3  This is additional government funding to support pupils who are known to be eligible for free school meals and those looked after by the local authority.

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amphitheatre, which acts as a central circulation space and provides access to the school’s five households – units in a house system for tutoring, dining and sports. Each household includes approximately 230 pupils of all ages including the sixth form, which unlike in many other schools are deliberately not separated out. Each unit is organised across all floors around a set of carefully positioned spaces following the principles of urban design. Each occupies their own discrete area of the building, and students from each household are encouraged to use their own staircases for circulation where practicable. Each has a space that is visible to others from the central internal circulation space, with more secluded study areas located further away. The households contain a series of elements including subject-specific learning facilities, a dining room and a large open plan learning space called a Superstudio. Each Superstudio has a soft tiered forum area where the whole membership of the household is able to gather, as well as a range of flexible furniture that can be quickly rearranged depending on the learning activity at hand. The assembly of tables, desks, various chairs and sofas is reminiscent of a professional creative office environment, rather than a school. Collaborative learning at the Academy is facilitated by learning sets – a fundamental feature of the teaching, learning and students’ experience. This constructivist approach is intended to facilitate learning. Each learning set consists of a group of five to six students. Membership of the sets is determined by the school management; they are heterogeneous and permanent, although students are allowed to apply to the school management to swap sets in certain situations. Maintaining long-lasting, small learning communities is thought to influence the level of set-­ members’ achievement and productivity (Ruebling 2007; Watkins 2005). Through experiencing learning activities alongside people with different skills, the pupils have opportunity for practicing mediation. They make meaning through dialogue and, it is believed, develop the vital capacity of self-direction (Mercer and Littleton 2007; Wells and Claxton 2002). The Academy also trusts that encouraging interdependence between learners promotes a shift from cognitive self-interest to mutual interest, a development in positive learning and social relationships and an increased openness to being influenced by and influencing others. The Superstudios are intended to specifically facilitate collaborative group learning and students’ interdependence. As such, the design reflects a very strong commitment to the school’s pedagogy and the proposed governance. The school was designed and constructed in such a way that it would be very difficult to revert it to being divided into classrooms. The pedagogical approach emphasises opportunities for interdisciplinary problem-­solving and ‘hands-on’ approaches to learning. It aims to foster pupils’ understanding of democracy and experience of self-regulated learning. Students are offered access to the whole curriculum through a staged form of progression, regardless of age, and the household organisation aims to stimulate these cross-year relationships. Collaboration is embedded at the Academy in the relationship between architecture and pedagogy. The open learning spaces, the decentralised system of dining rooms and other features of the households provide opportunities for social learning and flexible project-based educational experiences. The architectural


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e­ lements also serve as a reminder of the university sponsor’s values and the pedagogical ethos that exemplifies them. The environment affords as well as represents collaborative learning.

The Procurement At the time of its development as a new school, the sponsor was obliged to abide by the requirements of the BSF procurement process, which was invented and managed by Partnership for Schools (PfS). In line with the recommendations of Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), the engagement of a Client Design Advisor (CDA) was required by PfS and imposed upon local authorities to ensure high-quality outcomes from investments that included ‘improved educational results, a wider role for schools in the communities they serve, environmental and social sustainability and better value for money’ (CABE 2005). It was believed that a CDA (an experienced architect), if involved at an early stage, would bring about economic efficiencies and improve the overall quality of projects. However, the expectations of such participatory processes overlooked some very real complexities, barriers and difficulties. Cullinan’s role as CDA in the planning of the Academy began with an invitation to initiate conversations about the design of the new school.4 The original plan was to wait until a head teacher was appointed, but Cullinan persuaded the commissioning team otherwise. As consultant on the project, he had a particular view of how a new educational system could work and how it could be housed. Conversely, the university had strong convictions about knowledge, understanding and learning, but these were not immediately compatible with secondary schooling system. The emerging concept for the school, rather than being an adaptation of a secondary school template adjusted by ideas from higher education, was developed from the beginning. It deliberately chose not to follow any particular philosophies, but was instead about validation of recognised progressive educational practices. It was inspired by the historic Dutch de Werkplaats school and contemporary Danish school design trends: buildings reflecting democratic pedagogy such as Hellerup Skole (2009 visit) and Ørestad Gymnasium (2010 visit, see Fig. 6.2). These existing European schools demonstrate confidence in alternative to mainstream pedagogies especially with a view to the needs of future societies (Burke and Könings 2016). Such schools, while catering for the education of older children, nevertheless are characterised by homely settings, where children have considerable freedom to choose type and location of project-based learning activities. Indeed, the idea that a secondary school might resemble a primary school in ways that enhance a sense of belonging and commitment was developed by the CDA prior to their engagement in designing the building for the Academy. Through discussions and workshops with academics and students, visits to exemplars and an evolving diagrammatic tool, the  Cullinan worked with colleagues from SCABAL in this role throughout.


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Fig. 6.2  Ørestad Gymnasium 2017. Photo by Karolina Szynalska

CDA helped to identify, understand and crystallise the vision of the sponsor and to build confidence in what was implied by the innovative features of their own educational approach.

The Superclasses As a practice especially interested in designing for education, SCABAL provided rich resources from which to draw for inspiration. Prior to Cullinan’s involvement in the Academy project, his practice (SCABAL) had developed a method to establish what proportion of school facilities should be committed to specialised subject-­ specific areas, vital knowledge about the spatial requirements of secondary school-age pupils. This method subsequently became known as the Superclass projects for two other London secondary schools. Both schools wanted a unique space, where they could test and practice new pedagogical models in preparation for the complete transformation of their whole school buildings under the BSF. Whereas the first Superclass was a rather straightforward reinterpretation of de Werkplaats with the grouped arrangement of different rooms to foster different learning activities and group sizes, the design of the second was accompanied by analysis of the school’s timetable in which all of the pupils’ activities were plotted on pie charts. According to the subsequent analysis, and counter to expectations, it was discovered that large parts of school experience did not require traditional subject-specific classrooms.


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The pie charts were a part of the development of the design of the school’s brief, where the design team was concurrently learning and teaching the school’s team their design methods. SCABAL’s intention was to demonstrate a way in which the two teams could talk about reconfiguring an existing school to transform it into a future school using (as an example) the existing school timetable – the key to the whole school pedagogical and spatial management structure. Each meeting and its concluding decisions contributed to refinements of the diagrams. The pie charts showed how much time (and therefore space) was used for each subject; how, within each subject, there were mixtures of activities, group sizes and learning styles; and how different subjects had commonalities in terms of these activities, group sizes and learning styles. That was subsequently superimposed to form a new ordering and a new possible mixture of spaces to be used by this variety of groups. The architects analysed and then dismantled all the existing components of a working school and put them back together again to form new organisation that could afford new ways of governing (for the institution) and learning (for students), in this case collaborative, interdependent and self-directed. This method highlighted the proportion of ‘general’ and ‘specialist’ learning, across the whole school timetable and even within subjects like science. The resulting diagrams revealed that, according to the then current timetable, there could be much more ‘general learning space’ than ‘specialist learning space’. They also revealed how it would be possible to design a school in favour of the students and not around the institution’s need for controlling them. Traditional subject-based management is supported by classroom system and reflects the Fordist model of centralised control requiring everyone in the school to change places with every portion of time. This factory production model-inspired system wrongly assumes that students’ learning occurs in the transmission of knowledge from the teacher and the learning can be facilitated akin to an assembly line. The proposed organisation of the Superclass breaks this authority. The university sponsor was impressed by the two Superclasses, both as spaces and pedagogical models. However, the pie chart method was devised specifically for remodelling existing school spaces in institutions with established pedagogical ethos. Consequently, the CDA developed another approach for finding how to organise space according to the educational model envisaged by the university. Over the course of 1 year, before the architects of the school building were selected, a weekly dialogue was organised with participation by the head teacher and representatives of both the local education authority and school sponsors. During this time, the vision of the future school organisation was formulated.

The Development of the Brief The Academy was designed through a process comprising two intertwining parts: in part one the pedagogical model that underpins the Academy was created and developed; in part two, this pedagogical model was translated into an organisational

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model and then into a set of spatial diagrams. The resulting concept was later summarised in the briefing document used in the competition for selecting the architect for the commission. This document, which described the school as both a learning community and as a place, was built on a collection of many different experiences of thinking about education for the foreseeable future. Through addressing working in education today as well as designing schools for the future, it became a flexible recipe for the building’s design that included a built-in contingency. Bidders and their architects as well as other consultants were expected to not only rigorously fulfil the criteria of the competition brief but to also be critical and creative in their response. The sponsor’s overall ambition for the future school was to provide education for all that would prepare pupils for the twenty-first century. The future school’s ethos was motivated by a desire to bestow on the pupils the sponsor’s own values such as independence of thought and developing a worldview, as well as a belief in the potential of all pupils; it prioritised inclusion, innovation and equality of opportunity. In pursuit of these aims, and drawing on project-based-learning practices, a model was developed that sought to break down the hegemony of subjects and subject spaces. Instead of a model where pupils were expected to move around the school between set periods of time spent in specific classrooms or with specific teachers, an entirely different vision was developed wherein pupils might be enabled to follow a particular subject over a period of time, addressing it through different disciplines. If, for example, the project required them to undertake a science experiment, they would be able to do so as dictated by the needs and timescale of their project rather than waiting for their ‘turn’ to come around (if at all) in the dedicated specific subject curriculum. The principle at the heart of this approach is that a pupil should be free to navigate their school as and when they need, rather than their movements being governed according to a managerial timetable over which they have no input. Through the participatory process, a progressive pedagogy began to emerge. It strove to recognise the individual needs of every pupil and therefore the need to facilitate and support them in navigating diverse pathways on a day-to-day basis, as well as throughout their time at the Academy. During the second part of the design process, the above pedagogical model was translated into an organisational and spatial model. Like any state school, the Academy was designed in consultation with guidance set out in Building Bulletins 98 (Williamson 2004), a government document that sets out simple, realistic and nonstatutory area guidelines for secondary school buildings in the UK. Yet, unusually, the document was not taken as a recipe to be faithfully followed but acknowledged as one possible version of what a school might be like and what spatial components it might contain. Through a more creative interpretation of its guidance, new possibilities were opened up for the future school’s organisation. The brief needed to match the area requirements with the educational vision, and to do this, the CDA developed a methodology that allowed for imaginative but structured discussion with the sponsor and the local authority. This methodology used a series


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of circular diagrams to translate the pedagogical model established thus far into a carefully negotiated multilayered spatial system.

The ‘Spin Painting’ Process Architectural drawings (e.g. technical plans and models) are not always easy for the layperson to read. They also tend to be static in nature, even in the case of 3D models which, although dynamic in presentation, they require time and expertise to manipulate. In contrast, the spin paintings – named after a series of works by the artist Damien Hirst, created by dripping paint onto a revolving canvas – could be manipulated back and forth by all involved in the discussions about the design process with ease.5 They facilitated the negotiation of the dynamic spatial, pedagogic and pastoral arrangements of the Academy. Importantly, they did not require either the CDA or the client to formally agree particular component parts of the brief before moving on to the next during the design process. By articulating the tension between fixed and revolving components, and accurately defining the degree of their flexibility, the spin paintings enabled contradictions thrown up by complex and competing agendas to be reconciled while also allowing for each of the various components to be considered and developed independently. Individual ‘paintings’ with depicted constitutive elements were considered during weekly meetings between the local authority, the sponsor, the head teacher and the CDA, each exposing parts of the Academy’s structure and their reflection in its spatial organisation. They acted as catalysts for a dialogue. The format of meetings, while often led by the CDA, afforded all attending the opportunity to contribute to growing an understanding of the pedagogical and managerial implications of various structural configurations. The process facilitated consideration of the constitutive configuration of the whole establishment, i.e. the grouping of the vertical, pastoral house system as well as the pedagogical structure of unique learning pathways of individual pupils. The diagrams illustrated the relationships between groups of spaces along with individual adjacent rooms (Fig. 6.3). While each diagram was independently interrogated and re-worked through an iterative process, accumulating technical and spatial complexity, collectively they were also combined and re-examined as relational components within a multilayered system through a further process of iteration. The spin painting depicted in Fig. 6.4 emerged during the latter stages of this process and contains within it all of the required spatial elements in the Academy. The concentric rings represent (from the centre) the central space of the amphitheatre, the community ‘shop fronts’ (which are publically visible within the Academy), the specialist stations (e.g. engineering), the Superstudios and, finally, the houses. The five irregular contours delineate the boundaries of the households. The square

5  For Damien Hirst’s spin paintings, see internet source, accessed 27:01:17.

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Fig. 6.3  An early iteration of the spin painting, which shows both the whole school and contents and arrangement of a Superstudio. Image by SCABAL

and rectangular shapes correspond with all spaces required by the architectural brief; their size is in proportion. The detailed design for the future Academy follows individual learners’ timetables rather than the imposed requirements of a standard schedule of accommodation, with the spaces intended to suit particular learning tasks and optimum group sizes, rather than adhering to subject delineations. The spin painting diagram became pivotal to the direction of the pedagogical and spatial brief. The spin paintings were a working tool to negotiate the use, the size and the distribution of the accommodation as well as the movement throughout the school. They afforded new ideas to emerge and solidify as real and viable proposals. They were the manifestations of the participatory design as governance.

Spin Painting as a Means of Participation In opening his essay The Negotiation of Hope, Jeremy Till draws on the work of Carole Pateman (1970) to articulate three types of participation. In full participation each individual member of a group has equal power to determine the outcome of


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Fig. 6.4  The conclusive spin painting. Image by SCABAL

decisions; in partial participation power is unequal, with overall power resting with particular individuals; and in pseudo-participation, people are deceived into accepting decisions already taken, over which they have no power (2005, p. 27). Within architectural practice, Till suggests, full participation is an unattainable ideal. Moreover, while partial participation is perhaps most realistic, in  locating power with the expert, it is incompatible with the perspective that sees participation’s goal as ‘the empowerment of the citizen user and not of the expert’ (ibid.). Pseudoparticipation, he argues, perhaps covers the majority of participatory processes within the architectural context (ibid.), including the BSF programme. The BSF Building Bulletin (DfES 2002) advised that ‘All potential users in the community should be consulted’ (p. 63). It stated that ‘this approach will help to encourage greater use of the building, develop trust between all parties and add to the feeling of community and ownership’ (ibid.). However, although consultation with children, parents, teachers, and staff was widely encouraged, final decisions remained in the hands of particular professionals. As one of the consequences of this process, the average cost and length of the BSF pre-procurement were particularly substantial, £1.7 million during 18–20 months (James 2011, p. 18). As with

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Till’s contention, that participation is often driven out of architectural practice for fear of the uncertainty it brings (e.g. Till 2009), a key reason for the removal of ‘consultation’ in the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP)  – the replacement to BSF  – was to ‘guard’ against the economic and temporal uncertainties raised by engaging in meaningful participation. Indeed, the commissioning of business rather than educational leaders to undertake the Jame Review, together with its criticism of the inefficiencies brought about by participation and negotiation, and its recommended standardised approach to school design now adopted by government, exemplifies the government’s new perspective. From it the process of designing and building schools was to be fully controllable and, where possible, predetermined by adult professionals (James 2011, p. 21). Considering each of the aforementioned types of participation to be inadequate, Till contends that a new type is needed, one which is ‘realistic enough to acknowledge imbalances of power and knowledge, but at the same time works with these imbalances in a way that transforms the expectations and futures of the participants’ – one which is ‘transformative’ (Till 2005, p. 27) and thus beneficial ‘for all parties  – the architect [and society] included’ (ibid., p. 30). However, Till also acknowledges that such a type of participation is often seen by professionals as a threat, for it challenges the certainties provided by the (unequal) status quo of knowledge and power relations, and it lays bare the ‘limits’ of ‘specialist’ knowledge (ibid., p. 31). To create and nurture processes of participation that have the potential to be transformative, he posits that we must reconsider notions of expert as well as how knowledge is deployed: ‘architectural knowledge should not be applied as an abstraction from the outside but developed from within the context of a given situation’ (ibid., p. 32). Furthermore, knowledge must be considered able to pass and influence in both directions: ‘the architect [must] acknowledge the potentially transformative status of the users’ knowledge and […] provide channels through which it might be articulated’ (ibid., p. 33). The participatory process of collaboration between the sponsor, the local authority and the head teacher and the CDA, through which the Academy’s brief was developed, has some important elements in common with Till’s concept of transformative participation. Since differences in verbal and visual language are common sources of tension between different parties within any participatory process (e.g. Till 2005, p. 28), through replacing the need for architectural drawings, the method of spin painting proactively sets out to provide an alternative medium for communication between those involved. However, although easier to understand than the drawings they replaced, the spin painting method was still devised and introduced by the CDA and could not, therefore, fully eradicate language as a potential source of tension. The growing understanding was built on dialogue. The method was subjunctive: it operated in a non-confrontational mode, which ensured inevitable conflict between the collaborators was constructive. Under the BFS, the common assumption was that participatory design processes would necessarily involve pupils and teachers. Users’ participation has been a significant theme, which has emerged in the last two decades. Many publications set out guidance how it should be done and illustrate the outcomes (e.g. Flutter 2006;


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Hoffman 2014; Jamieson et al. 2000; Morgan 2000; Birch et al. 2017; Sorrell and Sorrell 2005). It is therefore worth considering how the process of spin painting might stand up to the introduction of further participants, namely, children and teachers. Multiple spin paintings can be layered and extended to ever increase the resulting diagrams’ complexity with different combinations. Therefore, they should also be able to accommodate the input of more participants with a greater range of abilities and perspectives. Thus, the spin painting method could in theory allow for different aspects of the design to be explored and developed at a range of scales, dependent on the strengths and interests of those involved. However, expanding the spin painting’s scope would almost certainly lead to an increase in potential conflict between different perspectives, and although we have argued that the method is capable of ensuring that conflict is productive, this capacity is presumably limited. For example, in the case of the Academy, the dislocation between the potential desires of students or teachers and the specific agenda set out by the sponsor may have been too great for the spin painting method to successfully resolve. That said, the potential for conflict should never be used as a reason for not involving the views of all. To recall Till, ‘confrontation with difference [is] inevitable’ (Till 2005, p. 34). It is only through ‘the negotiation of the personal with the social and the individual with the collective [that] political space emerges’ (ibid., p. 35), and it is only through engaging in the negotiation of political space that new and better opportunities can surface (ibid., p. 9). Furthermore, in any participatory process, both methods and participants must be responsive and willing to adapt to a situation’s unfolding. It is only through ‘doing’ that the advantages and disadvantages of any method can be known. The method of spin painting may or may not be able to cope with the involvement of additional and conflicting perspectives. Without ‘doing’, it is impossible to know. In sum: it is difficult to ascertain whether the design of the Academy was representative of ‘transformative participation’ as set out by Till. But one can certainly describe it as one of unique in-depth collaboration. That is to say, a collaborative process that drew on the specific experiences and knowledge of both the sponsor and CDA to get beneath the surface and to explore the potential of what an Academy might be.

Concluding Remarks: Designing with ‘Creative Discipline’ So, how might we describe the process of collaborative design in terms of a wider context of methodologies and theoretical positions? At the beginning of this chapter, the design epistemology creative discipline was described as constituting two parts: the first (the creative) referring to the opportunities for reflection, revision, change and alteration and the second (the discipline) defining the capacity to allow certain elements of the design to become stable or fixed without limiting creativity. This approach has been described as a means by which the creative vision of the architect could be protected from being lost in translation in the making of a

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building. However, the story of a school’s design explored in this chapter suggests that the practice of creative discipline is not about holding on to a single vision at all costs but is inclusive and highly collaborative. The spin painting method aims to ensure that the stakeholders not only understand the consequences of the choices they make but that they also have opportunities to alter or even reverse those choices at any point during the process. In the field of childhood studies, participatory processes have often been articulated (following a children’s rights-driven agenda) as a means either to combat the exclusion of children by adults or to demonstrate the former’s position as independent social actors (e.g. Mannion 2007). However, as Michael Wyness (2012) and Alison Clark (2010) argue, these are zero-sum positions that ignore the potential of ‘collaborative dialogue between children and adults’ (Clark 2010, p. 5). The design process was undertaken without the involvement of children and teachers ordinarily incumbent in an existing school due to the particular circumstances in which the Academy was conceived (i.e. both school and building being new). Yet, through providing a context for dialogue, it reinforces the positive potential in framing participation as collaborative dialogue, as ‘ordinary people in conversation’ (Billig 1988, p. 162, cited in Till 2005, p. 37). The process of turning ideas and practical expertise into a coherent vision always requires a form of representation. However, to capture ideas in a plan or model is to risk creating an apparent form of permanence which might limit further creative input. Through articulating the tension between fixed and unfixed, as well as providing means through which these tensions could be addressed, spin paintings facilitated the creation of a pedagogical and architectural brief that, while stable in concept, remained flexible enough for variations and future development. Thus, the spin paintings became a catalyst for stimulating and supporting progressive practice. While spin paintings are certainly not the only method through which the many challenges inherent in collaborative design processes might be addressed, neither are they bound to the particular context of this project. They might be replicated elsewhere with a range of possible outcomes according to the particular context in which they operate. That said, their successful use in this project did not rely merely on the organisational structure of the visual tool but also on the particular suitability for the unique pedagogical context endorsed by the sponsor and on the consensus-­driven collaborative and cooperative process of developing and articulating it. In this way, the method of spin painting is both product and procedure: it facilitates and acts propositionally, creating and describing a new piece of architecture. Unlike many architectural drawings, it does not simply describe a building’s envelope to subsequently be inhabited, but instead intertwines both social and pedagogical structures. The design process discussed here illustrates creative discipline as creating a shared vision, facilitated and guided by a CDA who was able to draw on previous engagement with innovative educational practice and its architecture. Although the ‘finished’ nature of the built environment seems to suggest otherwise, the experience of utilising the spin painting suggests that while certain features are indeed fixed, achieving a comprehensive pedagogy, looser elements of the design can still


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be continuously redesigned and structures devised that are open to continual remodelling. That the ambition to design the Academy around the pupils, and not (as is usually the case) its management, was conceived through a design of a management is itself paradoxical. However, this paradox reveals a potential insight into the fundamental assumption of the BSF programme: that is, that educational transformation can be achieved through high-quality buildings alone. Indeed, the advice on consultation for the programme (DfES 2002) is rather superficial. Drawing on the outcomes of The Guardian newspaper’s School I’d Like competition (2001), it lists the ‘most popular things that pupils wanted’ (DfES 2002, p. 63) such as good furniture, easily available drinking water, better toilets and quiet study rooms or ‘chill-out’ rooms, but it does not mention any more complex reflections by the pupils (reported in Burke and Grosvenor 2003), methods of addressing educational issues through the medium of architecture or, most importantly, the value of the long-term stability of the educational vision of the school organisation. In the years since it first opened its doors (2013), and following the disappointment of its first inspection, the Academy has continued to strengthen in terms of educational attainment. At the time of writing, it is the highest performing maintained mixed school in its locality; it has exceptionally high ‘value-added’ results (achieved grades compared to those predicted based on previous achievements); and 75% of pupils go on to attend Russell Group Universities. Assessed this way, the Academy can certainly be deemed a success. However, it is perhaps only through attending to the many other qualities of the Academy that it can truly be judged. Over its lifespan pedagogies will change; teachers will come and go, bringing new approaches and agendas; and class sizes will fluctuate (Horne Martin 2006). A symbiotic relationship between architecture and pedagogy must, therefore, be both responsive and inclusive. During our visits to the Academy in 2016, elements of habitation were perhaps no different to many other schools. Contrary to the BSF guideline recommendations (DfES 2002), the room dedicated for ‘quiet contemplation’ was occupied by the school’s maintenance team; the toilets remain a point of contention (designed in an open arrangement to reduce bullying, pupils and staff note they feel uncomfortably exposed in use); and the furniture is unremarkable. However, these are minor observations and, as with any building, educational or other, a broad understanding of its success in use, in particular of the symbiotic relationship between its particular pedagogy and architecture, can only come through careful long-term research and reflection. Encouragingly, through the establishment of its own research unit, supported by the sponsor, the Academy has begun this process and is currently the focus of a number of academic research projects. We must remember: buildings’ lives start when construction finishes, and the Academy’s is only just beginning.

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References Billig, M. (1988). Ideological dilemmas: A social psychology of everyday thinking. London: Sage. Birch, J., Parnell, R., Patsarika, M., & Šorn, M. (2017). Participating together: Dialogic space for children and architects in the design process. Children’s Geographies, 15(2), 224–236. Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2003). The school I’d like. Children and young People’s reflection on an education for the 21st century. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer. Burke, C., & Könings, K. D. (2016). Recovering lost histories of educational design: A case study in contemporary participatory strategies. Oxford Review of Education, 42(6), 721–732. CABE. (2005). Building schools for the future. The client design advisor. Retrieved from http:// CABE. (2007). Building schools for the future. Introducing the CABE schools design quality programme. London: CABE Retrieved from uk/20110118095356/http:/ Clark, A. (2010). Transforming Children’s spaces: Children’s and adult’s participation in designing learning environments. Abingdon: Routledge. Curtis, P. (2004, December 3). Ministers accused of reneging on school building scheme. The Guardian. Retrieved from DfEE. (2001). Schools building on success. HMSO. Retrieved from DfES. (2002). Building Bulletin 95: Schools for the future. Designs for Learning Communities. HMSO. London: The Stationery Office. DfES. (2003). Building schools for the future. Consultation on a new approach to capital investment. London: DfES Retrieved from, 200MIG469.pdf Flutter, J. (2006). “This place could help you learn”: Student participation in creating better school environments. Educational Review, 58(2), 183–193. Hoffman, S. (2014). Architecture is participation: Die Baupiloten methods and projects. Berlin: Jovis. Horne Martin, S. (2006). The classroom environment and children’s performance – Is there a relationship? In C. Spencer & M. Blades (Eds.), Children and their environments: Learning, using and designing spaces (pp. 91–107). Cambridge: Cambridge. James, S. (2011). Review of Education capital. The Department for Education. Retrieved from Jamieson, P., Fisher, K., Gilding, T., Taylor, P. G., & Trevitt, A. C. F. (2000). Place and space in the design of new learning environments. Higher Education Research and Development, 19(2), 221–237. Mannion, G. (2007). Going spatial, going relational: Why “listening to children” and children’s participation needs reframing. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 20(3), 405–420. Mercer, N., & Littleton, K. (2007). Dialogue and the development of children’s thinking. A sociocultural approach. London: Routledge. Morgan, J. (2000). Critical pedagogy: The spaces that make the difference. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 8(3), 273–289. Pateman, C. (1970). Participation and democratic theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Prime Minister’s Office. (2004). Building schools for the future Factsheet. Retrieved from archive/2004/05/building-schools-for-the-future-factsheet-5801


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Ruebling, C. (2007). Redesigning schools for success. Implementing small learning communities. Minnesota: The Centre for School Redesign. Sorrell, J., & Sorrell, F. (2005). Joined up design for schools. London: Merrell. Till, J.  (2005). The negotiation of hope. In P.  Blundell Jones, D.  Petrescu, & J.  Till (Eds.), Architecture and participation (pp. 23–42). Abingdon: Spon Press. Till, J. (2009). Architecture and contingency. Field Journal, 1(1), 120–135. Watkins, C. (2005). Classrooms as learning communities. What’s in it for schools? London: Routledge. Wells, G., & Claxton, G. (2002). Learning for life in the 21st century. Sociocultural perspectives on the future of education. London: Blackwell. Williamson, B. (2004). Building bulletin 98: Building framework for secondary school projects. DfES.  Retrieved from data/file/288107/building_bulletin_98_-_briefing_framework_for_secondary_school_projects.pdf Woolner, P., Hall, E., Wall, K., Higgins, S., Blake, A., & McCaughey, C. (2005). School building programmes: motivations, consequences and implications. Centre for Learning and Teaching, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences: University of Newcastle. Retrieved from Wyness, M. (2012). Children’s participation and intergenerational dialogue: Bringing adults back into the analysis. Childhood, 20(4), 429–442.

Chapter 7

Design As a Social Practice Harry Daniels and Hau Ming Tse

Abstract  In this chapter we present the findings of an investigation into the ways in which the discourses and practices of school design produce educational spaces which influence the discourses and practices of teaching and learning when the building is occupied. This investigation involved the development of a methodology for systematically analysing the relationship of school space to the experiences of students, teachers and parents. It expands notions of post occupancy evaluation (POE) research by exploring how the motives of an educational vision which informed an initial school design, those of the final building and those of the people who occupy that building interact in a way which influences experiences of the end users. In this way we sought to understand more about the extent to which a building regulates or governs the behaviour of those who occupy it. Through our approach to multi-professional pedagogic post occupancy evaluation, we came to the view that a building may be understood as a tool which may be used to facilitate change rather than as an instrument of change.

Introduction to the Research Background In this chapter we will discuss our multidisciplinary approach to pedagogic post occupancy evaluation (PPOE). Our argument will be that this area of study must attend to the mutual shaping of design and pedagogic practice through time. The UK Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Design Matters? project examined the influences that are brought to bear on the design of school buildings and the effects the designs have on those who teach and learn in them. It was conducted in English schools by a multidisciplinary team of five researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Roehampton during the period 2013–2017. Our project sought to understand how and why the educational vision of new schools built under the H. Daniels (*) · H. M. Tse Department of Education, Oxford University, Oxford, UK e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and Academies programme came to fruition and how the vision translated into the final designs. The BSF programme was initiated by the then Labour Government in 2003. It also investigated the ways in which designs are altered in and through the practices of occupants.

Pedagogic Post Occupancy Research POE research is typically aimed at measuring the performance of environmental factors such as lighting, temperature and acoustics (e.g. Hygge 2003; Galasiu and Veitch 2006; Winterbottom and Wilkins 2009; Shaughnessy et al. 2006) with the intention of informing architects, educators and policy makers on what type of design creates optimal learning conditions in relation to such factors. Many environmental POEs only contain quantitative data and tell us little about how different environmental factors interact dynamically with users through time and the consequences of these interactions (Tse et al. 2014). The work of Burke and Grosvenor (2008) does provide insight into how school buildings can mediate students’ perceptions of who they are, what they should think about the world, expected ways of behaving and feelings of well-being, thus developing Churchill’s claim that ‘First we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us’. However, it is this ‘shaping’ process which is less frequently researched (e.g. Price et al. 2009, p. 19) even though ‘direct and psychosocial influences are apparent on all school users’ (Ibid, p. 19). The limited research in this area also fails to offer a systematic analysis of how space is shaped (Woolner et al. 2007), and, to our knowledge, there is no research, which explores how space is shaped from the inception of the education vision through to occupation and the mediating effects of the spaces on end users post occupation through time. Current architectural research on school environments tends to focus on environmental performance. Woolner et al. (2007) warn that such research in isolation can lead to confusing, and often contradictory, conclusions; however, they also acknowledge that inadequate temperature control, lighting, air quality and acoustics have detrimental effects on concentration, mood, well-being, attendance and, ultimately, attainment. Such research is therefore relevant, but educationally limited. By contrast, Moos (1979) argued that the learning environment is best understood as resulting from a complex interaction of social, cultural, organisational and physical factors. Escolano (2003) directed attention to the meanings of school design and the cultural function that is assigned to schools. From this perspective school architecture should be open to a form of analysis, which takes account of educational discourses and practices and actors’ social norms. Cooper (1981) examined the conflicts that arose from differences in pedagogic orientations expressed in school design from those adhered to by most teachers. More recently Leiringer and Cardellino (2011) have argued how important it is to find a balance between good design, commercial realities and educational approaches. This points to the need to understand the ways in which the philosophies and discourses of design and educa-

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tional practice intersect at particular moments and over time. Burke and Grosvenor (2008) examined the history of the relationship between school design and educational philosophy/practice, whilst Cooper (1985) has argued that school building may be regarded as the physical embodiment of the educational system and the changing philosophies, which inspire it. Prosser (2007) directed attention to the ways in which teachers’ and pupils’ everyday behaviours shape and in turn are shaped by school culture which is manifested in part visually in the built environment. Cooper (1985) also noted the importance of non-teaching spaces, which are taken-for-granted yet deeply embedded in the teaching and learning behaviours of generations of teachers and pupils. Prosser argues that the design of schools reflects both developments in educational philosophy, as aims are re-defined, and new physical standards and methods of construction (p. 254). Research on the participation of school users has focused on commissioning and design. Woolner et al. (2005) caution that the history of school building programmes is littered with supposedly innovatory design which subsequently becomes unfit for future purpose. They stress the importance of user engagement in defining and solving design problems, so that successful solutions come to be seen as flexible and adaptable to new learners and teachers, curriculum demands and challenges (Woolner et al. 2007, p. 64). This emphasis on user engagement in design processes is taken up by Clark (2010) who refined the ‘Mosaic’ approach (Clark and Moss 2005) as a method for listening to, and collecting data from, children.

Design Matters? Design Matters? is an in-depth study of ten new secondary schools built between 2003 and 2012. The overall project involves the development of a methodology for systematically analysing the relationship of school space to the experiences of students, teachers and parents. It expands notions of POE research by exploring how the intentions of an educational vision which informed an initial school design, the intentions of the final building and the intentions of those people who occupy that building interact in a way which influences experiences of the end users. Our work is based on the assumption that these intentions will be influenced by wider social and cultural histories. The preliminary findings reveal a significant relationship between the characteristics of the design process and everyday practices of the schools. They also are indicative of the way the outcomes of that relationship affect the perceptions of the students, teachers and the wider community. Firstly we will report on some of the issues that have been raised in our examination of the design, build and occupation process and, secondly, on selected features of the consequences for students and their teachers. Here we draw on previous experience of studying multiagency working, albeit in the very different work places of child protection within and across child welfare services (Edwards et  al. 2009). In these projects we identified post-Vygotskian


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Activity Theory as a particularly powerful tool for conceptualising and i­ nterrogating the sometimes fluid and rapidly shifting landscapes of these forms of developing professional work and the engagement with clients. At a very general level of description, activity theorists’ concern is with the psychological impacts of activity and the social conditions and systems which are produced in and through such activity. An Activity Theory framework permits an analysis of the different motives evident in the practices of design, build and occupation; how they have emerged and are negotiated within and between the activities that arise in each form of professional practice (e.g. architecture, engineering, etc.); and which meaning systems prevail in shaping them. One approach to theorising these matters has been developed by Engeström et al. (1999) who introduced the concept of knotworking to describe the ‘construction of constantly changing combinations of people and artefacts over lengthy trajectories of time and widely distributed in space’ (p. 345). The term ‘co-configuration’ has been deployed to describe the relationships between professional agencies and clients. ‘With the organisation of work under co-configuration, the customer becomes, in a sense, a real partner with the producer’ (Victor and Boynton 1998, p.  199). Co-configuration typically also includes interdependency between multiple producers in a strategic alliance or other patterns of partnership which collaboratively creates and maintains a complex package which integrates products and services and has a long life cycle. These already complex processes are rendered more challenging when there are several changes in client, multiple clients, or even confusion about the identity and nature of the client. In our research into the complex processes of school design, we drew on the concepts of knotworking and co-configuration as points of departure in our analysis which sought to articulate different forms and typologies of collaborative effort. We found these ideas helpful in our attempts to describe and analyse the emergence of different forms of collaboration as design and construction initiatives progressed over time. We were particularly interested in the emergence of barriers and supports to progress in developing collaborative practice over time.

Methodology Our research was based on a five-step, mixed methods design (Greene 2008), collecting data through interview, surveys, observation and documentary analysis, capturing both first-person (subjective) and third-person (objective/intersubjective) perspectives over the phases of the project. The sample of schools consisted of 18 examples of different secondary designs including seven examples of ‘traditional’ schools used as comparators in our data analysis. Here we report findings from phase one of the Design Matters? project. The research team collected documentary evidence from school commissioners, architects and engineers to inform the understanding of the design brief and the commissioning and design processes. Data was

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also collected to understand students’ experiences of their new schools prior and upon entry and how students and teachers utilise the designs in their everyday practices.

Design, Build and Occupation: A Case Study In this chapter, we report the findings of an in-depth examination of the vision, design, build and occupation of three schools in one locality commissioned by the same Local Authority in wave 3 of the BSF programme. In parallel, we studied one comparator school which engaged in the vision and design process in wave 4 of the County’s BSF programme, but the programme was cancelled before the construction was initiated. We examined the processes of occupation which in three cases involved changes of leadership (headteacher). We identified significant discontinuities at particular phases in relation to either the intended physical structure and what was actually built or in relation to how space was intended to be used and how it was actually used in practice. What became very clear was that different motives were in play for different agencies at different moments in the process. For example, some agencies were driven by motives related to successful bidding for contracts at one moment and motives related to costs and completion on time at another. Many of these were in conflict with one another at critical times in the process which would lead to significant compromises for the built school environment. Following a successful application to the Government’s Department for Education and Skills in 2004, the county in which this case study is based was selected to procure sample schools to participate in wave 3 of the BSF programme. The three schools were developed as exemplar designs tailored to meet local needs and aspirations (DfES 2004). Two years earlier, the County Council initiated a review of secondary provision and, in partnership with the schools, developed a strategy to reshape the County’s educational landscape influenced by BSF’s ‘transformation’ agenda (DfES 2003). In a bid to develop the Council’s Secondary Strategy, and ensure that transformation occurred, they recruited a Secondary Transformation Team (STT) of ex-heads and educationalists. The National Audit Office’s review of the BSF programme in 2009 commended this county’s innovative and cohesive educational strategy prior to entry into the BSF programme. From the onset, there was a clear policy priority to use BSF to deliver educational transformation, but there was no evidence of a ‘coherent definition’ of this central objective (James 2011, p. 12). Nationally, the lack of guidance led to variations in the programme, process, design and outcome as each of the bodies involved had to implement their own interpretation of ‘educational transformation’ (NAO 2009, p. 6; James 2011, p. 13). The STT set out to get the County’s schools to work collaboratively towards improving standards. This work involved the development for the Schools


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Improvement Partner Programme for the Council (2006). ‘We had to understand what transformation meant to us?’ (STT interview). This process led to the articulation of a local educational vision.

The Educational Vision The STT recognised they needed to address priorities in the local contexts. They involved headteachers from schools involved in the County’s BSF programme to develop their own educational vision for their new schools. Numerous workshops were held with different stakeholders, the STT and the Council. Four areas were identified as core elements for the County’s BSF programme (County Council 2005): 1 . Transforming the organisation of learning in schools 2. Developing capacity and structures by extending collaborative partnerships between schools by developing clusters and transforming them into Education Improvement Partnerships 3. Placing schools firmly at the heart of their local community 4. Designing and developing the learning infrastructure in collaboration with the sample schools The Council published their Template for Schools of the Future document in 2005 which established key strategic approaches on innovation, flexible approaches to learning, personalization and community participation. The Council’s Template also developed an educational model for students to be taught in ‘learning clusters’. The cluster concept was based on the principle of ‘schools within a school’. The structure offers small-scale educational nuclei which support a strong pastoral-care system and allow each school to choose its own grouping of specialist areas depending upon needs (CC BSF Template 2005). The strategy was for students to be taught in a range of different size learning groups (from small group work up to groups of 240) to support the move towards autonomous learning. The Council’s rationale for change was grounded in an intention to replace traditional teaching methods which focused on a ‘chalk and talk’ model of education in which students were passive recipients of this knowledge to one in which students became actively engaged with the learning experience through inquiry-based learning. The Council’s strategy for transformation was to provide the vision for new ways of delivering secondary education in the County. It followed the core elements of the BSF programme which promoted personalised learning in curriculum content, assessment, learning style and different forms of learning. Models were developed for a diverse range of open-plan learning spaces, which illustrated features of adaptable environments, addressing acoustic and ICT needs for learning in a variety of group sizes, from individual learning to large group sessions (see Fig.  7.1). These design templates would serve as models for how personalised learning could be delivered in the Council’s new BSF schools.

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Fig. 7.1  Educational model for new learning spaces. Source: Nurturing Autonomous and Creative Learners: the XX Secondary Strategy – Phase 2 (XX County Council, 2005). Permission is given to reproduce but the research protocol requires institutional anonymity

The Council recognised that this process of transformation would take time and argued that this would require visionary professionals working in buildings with innovatory features. It was apparent that the STT and Council was strongly committed to this new educational vision and sought to ensure that it was championed by each school and their design teams. Each school, led by the headteacher, worked with the sample schools design team and the Council to develop their own learning clusters of specialist areas within the Council’s concept set out in their Template. They argued for designs that could not be occupied with traditional forms of practice: These buildings have been designed in a way that makes it almost impossible for them to go back to square one. That was our guiding principle.  (Secondary transformation team interview)

A key part of the visioning process at the Council was a trip to the United States in 2005, which involved 93 secondary school heads on a fact-finding trip to survey selected American charter schools to gather data on programmes, pedagogical initiatives and exchange ideas with innovative US educators. The stated purpose was to help the headteachers develop a new vision for schooling. Whilst this strategy of looking further afield accorded with BSF guidelines, it did not fully recognise that evidence that something ‘works’ in one context does not


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necessarily mean the same intervention or action will be relevant in another context (Cartwright and Hardie 2012). Interestingly, we have similar situations in other schools in our project; many had gone beyond their local context when developing their visioning process and implemented new ideas with little evidence that these novel approaches would work in their local educational context. In March 2006 the Council, in collaboration with the school communities, began work on the BSF sample schools project to help develop each school’s educational vision for the outline business case. The Council commissioned a project management company who in turn commissioned a firm of leading architects in the field of educational buildings to design the three sample schools. The sample schools project aimed to translate the Council’s vision of ‘autonomous and creative learners’ (CC BSF Template 2005) into three preliminary school designs. These were conceived to serve as design briefs for the procurement process and act as a springboard for the bidding teams. The sample schools architects were commissioned to translate the Council’s BSF educational vision into preliminary designs within an 8-week time frame. They had five workshops with each of the sample schools. These workshops were aimed at developing each individual school’s pedagogical vision and translating these ideas into a new ‘accommodation schedule’ within the BB98 funding envelope. We will refer to the schools as A, B and C. Our interviewees all expressed positive feedback on the level of engagement and active collaboration at this early stage of the process. A close working relationship was forged between the Council, the schools and the architects. There was extensive consultation and creative engagement with the community. The architects, the schools and the Council mobilised a unified, collaborative approach towards early conceptual designs which they agreed met the requirements of their educational vision. The Council was one of the early adopters of the BSF competitive dialogue process. The purpose of the process was to find a consortium to fund, construct and maintain the schools. During the competitive dialogue process, the Council selected two bidders to design the schools from 12 initial bidders, before selecting its preferred bidder to develop the detailed designs before financial close. The bidders reported that the onerous process placed ‘unsustainable strain’ on their bidding capacity (NAO 2009, p. 47). The Council and the schools had to invest intensive periods of time in the competitive dialogue process, but the participants we interviewed felt they were being asked the same questions they answered in earlier phases of the project: We were asked the same questions again, it was as if we were back at square one after months of work. At that stage, we felt we had done the work. We had a design that everyone can work with but we had to start all over again with another design team. (Headteacher, School B) It was frustrating, I felt like some of the conversations we had with design teams along the way hadn’t been documented properly so when we went back and said we had agreed on a particular decision there was no evidence that that conversation had taken place. (Headteacher, School C)

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The outcome of the process was also ‘disappointing’ for some of the schools, as the consortium that produced their preferred designs did not win the bid. (The selection process for BSF PFI projects weighs design, financial, legal and facilities management [FM] issues, and therefore it is not always possible to select the bidder with the preferred designs.) The delivery architects for the preferred bidder informed us of their ‘frustrating’ experience of discontinuities in the design process at this stage. This was a result of conflicts between their professional role to understand and design for the needs of the end users and the formal routes of communication during the competitive bidding process. The delivery architects designed innovative open-plan spaces that aimed to facilitate different styles of learning in line with the educational vision. However, the usability of the built open-plan spaces was severely undermined by pressures on the contractor to meet budgetary requirements during construction once financial close was completed. The decisions made in this phase were critical to whether the initial educational vision of the school could be delivered. Different team members felt frustrated by the conflicts between their contractual obligations to their client (the contractor) and their professional obligations to the end users (the school). The delivery architects stressed that there was a notable absence in the form of a quality and design compliance monitor working for the Council and the schools during this phase of the project. Someone acting in this role could have ensured the built design would provide educational spaces that could deliver the educational vision set out at the inception of the project. In the schools we studied, the match of the educational vision and resulting building was highest when an end user representative who would occupy the building had taken on this role.

Findings School A In school A, there was a very high degree of involvement by the current headteacher in all the design and construction phases. When asked in interview whether there was anything she would change about the design of the building as occupied, she answered ‘nothing’. She acted as the active facilitator of collaboration throughout the project: My vision was to create a 21st century learning environment where students can flourish, can work independently to build up their social skills as well as develop their intellect. (Headteacher A interview)

The headteacher took on the role of quality and design compliance monitor in the process and ensured that the contractors delivered a building that met the requirements of the intended educational vision. For co-configuration to actually take


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Fig. 7.2  School A concept sketch for open-plan learning zones. Source: HKS Architects

place, there was a need for client continuity, in some form or another, throughout the process. The design offers large open spaces with a mixed economy of smaller cellular rooms and breakout zones. Figure 7.2 shows the typical floor plan of the open-plan teaching zones. The process of occupation was considered instrumental to pedagogic transformation. A ‘mock-up’ of the open learning zone and breakout spaces was constructed in the gymnasium of the old school building: We mocked up open plan learning spaces and learnt how to use them effectively to improve progress for our students. We were preparing a good two years before we moved to learn how to teach in a new way. (Headteacher A interview)

This was used as a test bed for the development of new approaches to teaching and learning. This process of learning to use new configurations of space continued once the building had been occupied. The headteacher argued the case for conscious leadership of her staff in learning how to use the space and develop pedagogic practice which transcends what were seen as the inevitable pitfalls of trying to teach a single class in a single room. The headteacher also resisted attempts to reintroduce informal delineation of the large open zones: We dedicate one night a week to planning and that planning time is purely open plan learning support therefore if you’re teaching with two other members of staff it’s not about what you’re going to teach it’s about how you’re going to teach it in a class of 60 kids or with 3 groups of 90 or 100 kids. (Headteacher A interview)

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Fig. 7.3  School A organisational and typology concept. Source: HKS Architects

It was not only staff who had to learn to use the new building design (see Fig. 7.3). There was an explicit approach to ‘teaching’ the new rules of social order in the new spaces of the building: We encourage youngsters to regulate themselves to some extent but there are expectations, there are zone protocols, what they can and can’t do in the zones, there are expectations about the best way to learn, you are here to progress, you are here to become better learners… a lot of emphasis upon independence. (Headteacher A interview)

The timetable and management of the school were designed to promote the best use of the new spaces. The headteacher appears to have a relatively informal charismatic and personalised approach with staff and pupils. The staff reported they felt supported by team/carousel teaching, and nearly all of the 36 students interviewed reported that they enjoyed active learning and working in groups in the open learning zones. The school reported that parents were initially cautious, but with higher


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attainment and encouragement by the headteacher to spend time observing the new ways of teaching and learning at school A, the school is now oversubscribed. The students responded enthusiastically to the demands of the new forms of pedagogic competence: In our old building, we had cramped classrooms and dark long corridors. It felt gloomy and depressing. When we came to this school, it just felt modern. There are five big zones where each space can fit four classes. We have open learning and everything changed. (L6th student interview)

They also identified specific benefits in terms of use of space: I feel like I can learn better in a zone than in a classroom. In a zone, you have more space and you can sit with people you work well with. You can move around and get help from each other and different teachers. (Y7 student interview)

The headteacher could also point to objective measures of improved performance both in terms of use of space and academic outcomes: Design does matter, the conversations, the way the zones are set up, the way students engage with each other. Since we have had this new building, results have improved enormously. We have more students stay on, we have more students go to University. This building makes them feel wanted and gives them an aspiration. (Headteacher interview)

This was the only school which witnessed an explicit and overt attempt to learn how to use the spaces of the design as envisioned. The design, construction and occupation processes were characterised by high levels of collaboration and active participation in which flexible groupings of different professionals experimented and prototyped the emergent final design of the building. The design and the new form of practice, which emerged, were an outcome of this ongoing pattern of mutual shaping over time. This was a form of mutual shaping of the emergent design in which no single actor or agency led the process. In a similar way, the occupiers of the building worked together, knotworked, to explore the potential of the design that would afford the forms of pedagogy that they continue to develop.

School B This school design project involved a high degree of involvement on the part of the original headteacher (B) in the design and construction phases. The design was based on the ‘schools within a school’ model. It is the most radical design of the schools in this study. On initial occupation the building had four clusters of 12 open learning zones opening onto double height atrium spaces on the ground floor (Fig. 7.4). Central to the design was an expansive, open ‘heart’ space that connects all the mini-school clusters (Fig. 7.5). This very dramatic and aesthetically pleasing space is used for dining and whole school assemblies.

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Fig. 7.4  School B learning zone concept. Source: HKS Architects

The design assumed integration of curriculum areas. The vision was that of thematic curriculum content taught by teams of teachers who did not ‘belong’ to departments as much as they did to their ‘mini-school team’. The current temporary headteacher (B2) is developing a much more formal approach to teaching, subject knowledge, departmental structure and discipline. His claim that students, teachers and parents hated the open spaces was used to justify a retrofit. The case was made to the Governing Body to borrow a large amount of money (£850,000 plus) from the Local Authority to build glass walls on the front of the open classrooms and to introduce partitions into the open areas within the mini-­ schools in order to reinstate cellular closed classrooms. The new retrofit is reported by the head to be much more popular with students, teachers and parents. In some cases these were the same families where siblings attended school A and reported high levels of satisfaction with learning in large open zones. Members of staff felt that the open design had interrupted their established form of practice. The design presented them with challenges that they were ill prepared for: I had been in the old school for eight years and had to leave after 9mths in the new building. It was a disaster, I totally disagreed with the way we were being asked to teach in the open plan learning zones. The noise was horrendous and the students could not concentrate. I came straight back after the new head came in and new walls were built, the school works much better and the students are happier. (Teacher interview)


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Fig. 7.5  School B heart space concept. Source: HKS Architects

Students reported acoustic challenges to their studies in the original design: When we were in our lessons, like, where there were other classes next to us and there weren’t no walls there was a lot of noise going around so it was hard to concentrate and everything. (Y8 student interview)

The adaptation was not anticipated in the imagined practice and the architects were not involved in the retrofit exercise. The poor environmental conditions (acoustics, ventilation and temperature) created by the retrofit have brought new challenges to teachers and students. Students reported that they had felt claustrophobic due to a ‘lack of air’, and they also described a desire for spaces that are less cramped: I hate the closed classrooms, they are so hot, I feel like I can’t breathe sometimes. I wish you could spread yourself out and everything rather than being in a cramped space. (Y8 student interview) It’s better like in more of an open space like the heart space because there’s much more room to work in. The glass walls make the classrooms a lot more cramped when we’re all together, it’s really hot and hard to concentrate. (Y8 student interview)

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The lack of preparation for participation in new forms of practice envisaged in the design resulted in the design being understood as an unwelcome imposition that was resisted or dismissed. On first occupation in school B, there was an attempt to align the object motives of the design and the practice. There was evidence of partial co-configuration through collaboration in the design and construction process in the absence of the teaching staff, but there was no evidence of the development of new discourses and practices of teaching and learning as afforded by the design and were implicit in the original vision and design brief for the building. The affiliation to the radical design stemmed largely from headteacher B1 who had not engaged his staff in his vision for the new school. Knotworking was not apparent. In part the resistance of the staff and perhaps the very radical nature of the design rendered this engagement problematic. The second occupation did not share the pedagogic orientation of the vision, and this led to a new retrofit which presents significant consequences for the environmental conditions of the school.

School C In school C, there was little involvement of the original headteacher C1 in the design and construction phases. A deputy headteacher represented the school’s views. We were informed of strong management of the construction phase by the contractor. It was suggested that the constructor kept parties apart and produced a palpable sense of disconnection between educators and other stakeholders. Here there was a deliberate and explicit attempt to prevent active forms of collaboration, which from the perspective of the contractor would have inhibited progress towards their desired outcomes: I joined the project after we had won the bid, and to me the whole process of developing the design with the school after that seemed wrong. I expected open, informed and dynamic discussions, held within openly stated constraints of affordability. Instead we got only very limited contact with the school, carefully choreographed by the main contractor so that we didn’t say a word out of place. The school probably felt they should have had a lot more say in the development of the design than they ended up having. (Delivery architect C)

We have gathered accounts of communication being managed between stakeholders with elements of messages being redacted. We also have obtained accounts of the preparation of bids for a contract involving the deliberate obfuscation of limitations in the design with regard to acoustic performance. The design specification including large open spaces on single floors was designed for three groups of pupils of the same age studying the same subject at the same time. The vision was that of three teachers plus classroom assistants working with 90 pupils in the open learning area and making flexible use of breakout spaces (Fig. 7.6): Not enough detail was included in the design at both bid submission stage and financial close stage. This meant that the client was very exposed to substandard quality creeping into the design as we detailed it. The main contractor was unwilling to share with us the cost


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Fig. 7.6  School C learning zone sectional perspective. Source: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

plan during detailed design development, nor use our design expertise in cost-cutting discussions. In the end, they had ignored many of our drawings and specifications and built the way they wanted to, to the detriment of quality and performance. (Delivery architect C)

During the design and planning stage, significant concerns were reported. The acoustic engineers raised questions about whether the design of the open-plan learning zones would function effectively (Fig. 7.7). Engineers reported concerns to contractors who were driven by motives concerning securing the contract. When the contract was won, motives concerning completion and cost deflected attention away from the original acoustic concerns in the value engineering process. The current headteacher C has a strong focus on attainment and has been successful in improving standards. However the school is not managed in a way that aligns with the original educational vision. The timetable does not place same-year groups or subjects in the open areas. The occupation of the building is characterised by informal attempts to change the organisation of space, through placing furniture in such a way as to try and recreate the sense of single classroom spaces. This results in physically awkward spaces which are generally regarded by staff and students as not fit for the purpose for which they are now used. Students and teachers are very concerned by the significant environmental challenges. Design and practice are in direct conflict. Teachers have commented that using these informally adapted open classrooms disrupts and adds tensions to their daily teaching practice:

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Fig. 7.7  School C learning zone concept. Source: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

I teach with my back to the other open classroom, I absorb anything that is going on there noise-wise. I absorb it, and because it’s hitting me first before it’s hitting the students in my area, it throws me when the other class is being disruptive and we can hear everything. (Y7 English teacher interview)

Another Y8 teacher uses a double space as her classroom. The open learning zones were designed to have two or three classes together, but now it is just used for one class at a time. It only works when I don’t have another class teaching in the other open space…having no doors and walls is a real problem (Y8 Maths teacher interview) No walls and doors mean that when children from other classes come to get laptops there’s a lot of distraction from them…particularly if I’ve got another class in the zone. There’s four lots of distraction potentially. If students are sent out of neighbouring classrooms and teachers are talking to them then there’s not a lot of privacy because my children can hear and see what’s going on. (Y8 English teacher interview)

Students also feel that the noise within these areas disrupts their learning: I don’t really like the open plan because you can hear all this noise and it distracts you all the time. (Y7 student interview)

In the absence of the substantial funding that would have been required to remodel the design, informal approaches to reconfiguring the spaces were invoked. These amplified the disaffection with the original design on the part of staff by virtue of difficulties with acoustics and the intention of the original designers to not


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allow returns to previous practice. There was no attempt to learn how to use the spaces as envisioned. In school C there was limited co-configuration in the original design and the first occupation was brief. The second occupation was based on a pedagogic vision, which was in stark contradiction to the original design.

Conclusions In this chapter we have reported findings from a subsample of our data, which provide examples of some of the ways in which school buildings play a role in mediating the pedagogic process. We have argued that it is important for design to recognise and respond to local contexts. However, we have also shown how development to pedagogic practices and leadership over time impact on processes of occupation and, in turn, how these impacts shape the design and patterns of use. Our findings reveal that contradictions embedded in the building from its design process shape the possibilities for pedagogic practice which in turn may also seek to reshape the building itself. It is the tensions that are set up between these strands of development which have given us insight into the dynamic way in which mediational processes progress after occupation. Our data has shown that some buildings may be so riven with contradictions that adaptations to particular preferences may prove ineffective and the building becomes perceived as dysfunctional. This may either be because of features internal to the design or because of relations between practices of construction and funding. We also have evidence of adaptations which were successful in reshaping these school buildings in a way that rendered them more fit for the purposes of the occupiers.

Design and Practice The relation between design and practice is crucial to the production of a building which can be and is used effectively. The suitability of the building for schools’ pedagogic practices as they change through time will be determined by the building’s potential to adapt to the school’s changing spatial needs and the school’s understanding of the building’s design principles. There are three elements to this relationship. Firstly, it is more likely that a successful occupation and use of a building result when the practices that the occupying staff wish to follow mirror the principles of practice that are embedded in the vision and design. Secondly, this is most evident when the eventual practitioners (usually the headteacher who takes over the school building on completion) have been involved in an inclusive consultation process throughout the vision, design and construction process. Thirdly, it is quite clear that the principles of the design brief may be regarded differently by different individu-

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als and professional groups. This may seek to compound problems with the relationship between design and practice. These conclusions lead us to form a general argument that one design may be perceived and used in very different ways in different practices of schooling. We also argue that good design requires good multi-professional holistic post occupancy evaluation which has a remit that goes far beyond the physical functioning of the building. An understanding of social relations that are enacted within a design as it is taken up by different forms of practice is crucial to the development of better sites for schooling. In short, we suggest that social practices of negotiation and collaboration are vital elements of the processes through which a school is designed, built and occupied. This requires clarity and continuity in the operational definition of the client. In an interview a senior architect suggested that the key role of the architect was as ‘orchestrator’, and a contractor suggested that ‘integrity must lie at the heart of a build’. In their different ways, they appear to recognise the need for the formation of common objects of the work. Importantly we have shown how one design can be used in different ways. Rather than design determining behaviour, it takes up a dynamic and fluctuating relation with the practices of occupiers resulting in a wide variety of outcomes. Different approaches to school leadership and management give rise to distinctive school cultures which in turn make differences in the use and adaption of a school building. We take the findings as a strong argument for the development of a social and cultural dimension to post occupancy evaluation which examines human practices in buildings over time and through different management cultures. It is as if there is a process of resignification at each point of cultural change in successive management regimes. As the headteacher of a successful new build free school noted: ‘The design is a provocation to learn differently but it’s what you do inside it that matters’. Taken together these findings point to the need for post occupancy evaluation that includes human action and perception over time and the interconnection between design and practice and how this may change over different occupations (school leaders). The findings also point to the need to redefine ‘sustainability’ in terms of adaptation to different forms of practice. In order to extend the functional life of new school buildings, the vision and design process must allow for adaptation as educational policies and practices change through time.

References Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2008). School. London: Reaktion Press. Cartwright, N., & Hardie, J. (2012). Evidence-based policy: A practical guide to doing it better. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Clark, A. (2010). Young children as protagonists and the role of participatory, visual methods in engaging multiple perspectives. American Journal of Community Psychology, 46, 115–123. Clark, A., & Moss, P. (2005). Spaces to play: More listening to young children using the mosaic approach. London: National Children’s Bureau.


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Cooper, I. (1981). The politics of education and architectural design: The instructive example of British primary education. British Educational Research Journal, 7(2), 125–136. Cooper, I. (1985). Teachers’ assessments of primary school buildings: The role of the physical environment in education. British Educational Research Journal, 11(3), 253–269. County Council. (2005). Template: Schools for the future. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. DfES. (2003). Building schools for the future: Consultation on a new approach to capital investment. London: DfES. DfES. (2004). Building schools for the future: A new approach to capital investment. London: DfES. Edwards, A., Daniels, H., Gallagher, T., Leadbetter, J., & Warmington, P. (2009). Improving inter-professional collaborations: Multi-agency working for children’s well being. Oxford: Routledge. Engeström, Y., Engeström, R., & Vähäaho, T. (1999). When the center does not hold: The importance of knotworking. In S.  Chaiklin, M.  Hedegaard, & U.  J. Jensen (Eds.), Activity theory and social practice: Cultural-historical approaches (pp. 345–374). Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. Escolano, A. (2003). The school in the city: School architecture as discourse and as text. Pedagogica Historica, 39(1–2). Galasiu, A. D., & Veitch, J. A. (2006). Occupant preferences and satisfaction with the luminous environment and control systems in day lit offices: A literature review. Energy and Buildings, 38, 728–742. Greene, J. C. (2008). Is mixed methods social inquiry a distinctive methodology? Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 2(1), 7–22. Hygge, S. (2003). Classroom experiments on the effects of different noise sources and sound levels on long-term recall and recognition in children. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17, 895–914. James, S. (2011). Review of education capital. London: DfE. Leiringer, R., & Cardellino, P. (2011). Schools for the twenty-first century: School design and educational transformation. British Educational Research Journal, 37(6), 915–934. Moos, R. H. (1979). Evaluating educational environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. National Audit Office. (2009). The building schools for the future programme: Renewing the secondary school estate. Report HC 135 Session 2008–2009. Price, I., Clark, E., Holland, M., Emerton, C., & Wolstenholme, C. (2009). Condition matters: Pupil voices on the design and condition of secondary schools, Research report. Reading: CfBT Education Trust. Prosser, J. (2007). Visual methods and the visual culture of schools. Visual Studies, 22(1), 13–30. Shaughnessy, R. J., Haverinen-Shaughnessy, U., Nevalainen, A., & Moschandreas, D. (2006). A preliminary study on the association between ventilation rates in classrooms and student performance. Indoor Air, 16(6), 465–468. Tse, H. M., Learoyd-Smith, S., Stables, A., & Daniels, H. (2014). Continuity and conflict in school design: A case study from building schools for the future. Intelligent Buildings International, 7(2–3), 64–82. Victor, B., & Boynton, A. (1998). Invented here: Maximizing your organization’s internal growth and profitability. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Winterbottom, M., & Wilkins, A. (2009). Lighting and discomfort in the classroom. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29(1), 63–75. Woolner, P., Hall, E., Wall, K., Higgins, S., Blake, A., & McCaughey, C. (2005). School building programmes: Motivations, consequences and implications, Research report. Reading: CfBT. Woolner, P., Hall, E., Higgins, S., McCaughy, C., & Wall, K. (2007). A sound foundation? What we know about the impact of environments on learning and the implications for building schools for the future. Oxford Review of Education, 33(1), 47–70.

Chapter 8

Boredom and Classroom Design: The Affective Economies of School Engagement Noah W. Sobe

Abstract  Educators have long been rightly concerned about the risk that schools themselves can produce profoundly unsettling and potentially ‘unproductive’ emotional and physical states among children and youth. This chapter examines two moments in the attentive regimes and engagement paradigms that have been manifest in the material design of schools and classrooms in the United States in the twentieth century. The first part looks at a temporary classroom constructed as part of a demonstration of Montessori pedagogy at the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco, California. The second section examines the classrooms the Crow Island School built in 1940 in Winnetka, Illinois, a wealthy Chicago suburb renowned for its progressive schools. In both these instances, architects and educators linked design with affect and connected design to strategies for managing boredom. Drawing on scholarship from architectural history and the history of emotions, I treat the ascription of affective effect to school design and architecture as itself a shifting historical artifact worthy of examination. The chapter argues that the confluence of emotional modulation, classroom design, and engagement/boredom management forms an important site in the governing of individuals.

Introduction Schools are often designed with concerns about student engagement in mind, yet we also know that schools are also places where children and youth can experience profound disengagement. This chapter centers on the management of boredom and looks at classrooms as affective environments. It is well established that the design of schools makes clear their function (see e.g., Burke an Grosvenor 2008), and here the focus is on the emotional intent of classroom design in relation to the governance of children’s engagement. Using a distinction proposed by Kim Rasmussen, this chapter focuses on ‘spaces for children’, that is to say, the norms and N. W. Sobe (*) School of Education, Loyola University, Chicago, IL, USA © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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expectations that were built into the architecture and design features of childfocused built environments – namely, school classrooms (Rasmussen 2004). Since space is usefully understood as relational and contested, it is admittedly also important to look at ‘children’s spaces’, a term Rasmussen proposes to capture the meanings given to spaces by and through the actions of those children who inhabit, frequent, and pass through them. Nonetheless, while the experience of school spaces is a crucial issue in the history of education, this chapter primarily focuses on the parameters of two particular American classroom spaces (a 1915 Montessori demonstration classroom and the 1940 classrooms of the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois) as they were envisioned by adult planners. From Bell-Lancaster classrooms that were designed in the early nineteenth century with windows above eye level to prevent eyes from wandering (Kurtze 1995) to the confiscation of cell/mobile phones in contemporary classrooms, the minimization of distraction has long been a concern of those who design and manage school spaces. Yet, the attentiveness of schoolchildren has not solely been seen as a problem of perceptual and cognitive focus. Alongside distraction there is an important affective opposite to student engagement, namely, ‘boredom’ (though it has not always been named as such) (Sobe 2015). Educators have long been rightly concerned about the risk that schools themselves can produce profoundly unsettling and potentially ‘unproductive’ emotional and physical states among children and youth. Particularly with the progressive education movement of the late nineteenth and early-mid-twentieth century, though addressed in different ways at different moments, the management of boredom entered as one of baseline considerations in school design. And, as befits an affective state, boredom has often been addressed on an emotional plane.1 While the two classroom spaces discussed here were designed with significant emotional modulation in mind, the connection between architecture and human emotion is far from straightforward. A recent piece by Roy Kozlovsky on architecture, emotions and the history of childhood usefully points out that architects have often relied on dubious psychological theories to ascribe emotional effect to buildings (Kozlovsky 2015). Perhaps even more so with emotional management than with other dimensions of managing human behavior and personhood, we ought to be cautious about drawing conclusions about the automatic effectiveness of intended architectural effects. Nonetheless, Kozlovsky proposes that the history of emotions scholarship shows that it is possible to go well beyond analyses of the aesthetic aspects of design as mere representational signifier. Emotional styles, emotional communities, and affective norms can be understood as sociocultural projects that become entwined with other projects, including aesthetic projects, as discussed in this paper. In fact, the very ascription of affective effect to school design and architecture surfaces as a shifting historical artifact worthy of examination itself. The overarching argument of this chapter is that the confluence of emotional modulation, classroom design, and engagement/boredom management forms an important site in the governing of individuals.  For discussion of affect and emotion, see Sobe (2012).


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 ontessori Demonstration Classroom, 1915 (Panama-Pacific M International Exposition, San Francisco, California) “They did not believe anything new could be achieved. They confidently expected to be bored,” so wrote Sunset magazine in April 1915 describing the visitors who had been arriving in droves since February to attend the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE). Suggesting that a kind of exposition fatigue might well have set in “after [the World’s Fairs of] Chicago, Buffalo, and St. Louis,” the magazine suggested that visitors arrived thinking that “nothing new could be achieved” and with the expectation that all expositions would be “bores” (“Why all California” 1915, p. 636). Yet, instead, the 1915 San Francisco Fair was a great success as measured by attendance and by numerous reports speaking to its engaging innovations. Design was key to this success. Carefully thought-through architectural features were described as bringing a pleasing consistency and unity to the exposition palaces and the courtyards between them. A well-conceived color scheme and lighting effects aimed to further solidify the visitor’s experience as peaceful, restorative, and strengthening (Sobe 2007). With an emphasis on nurturing absorptive attentiveness, the San Francisco World’s Fair did not bore its visitors. A similarly careful attention to the structuring of human experience was on display in the 1915 Fair’s Palace of Education and Social Economy. In this hall Maria Montessori herself led a glass-walled demonstration classroom where for 4 months a school for children between 2 and 6 years old operated and Montessori’s methods were demonstrated to visitors.2 Extant reports indicate that the Montessori demonstration classroom was the major attraction in the Palace of Education and Social Economy (Hinkle 1915; Todd 1921, p. 66). A San Francisco newspaper reported that the 4-hour morning classes attracted a crowd of spectators, many of whom went repeatedly over the 4 months that the school was in operation – ‘as warm a coterie of ‘fans’ as any home club with a winning streak ever drew inside a baseball grounds’ (Hinkle 1915). The crowd of spectators became known as the ‘bleachers’ and often completely surrounded the classroom. The auditorium-style seats filled early in the morning. Standing room space that offered a good view was also at a premium (Kramer 1976). One contemporary account described the spectators as ‘like tourists at an aquarium’ (Todd 1921, p. 66). Interestingly, the children on display seemed unperturbed by those observing them. They ‘appeared oblivious to the watching crowds’ according to the San Francisco Chronicle (Hinkle 1915). The PPIE five-volume official history noted that children set themselves to tasks ‘by their own will’, and ‘for long stretches they hardly noticed the spectators, so well were their wits concentered [sic] on their work’ (Todd 1921, pp. 66–68). Though Montessori pedagogy had been introduced in the United States several years earlier and Maria Montessori had also previously visited the United States, the 1915 demonstration classroom is often taken as the first successful expansion of her progressive teaching methods in America (Gutek  For additional information on the demonstration classroom, see Sobe (2004).



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and Gutek 2016). In observing the engrossment of the approximately 25 children in the class, visitors were able to see the students interacting with the objects and various physical manipulatives that characterize Montessori early childhood education. PPIE attendees were also able to see the noted Montessori innovation of child-sized furniture. Extremely careful attention had been paid to the crafting of a visual, sensorial environment that would be conducive to learning. Absorption was mirrored on both sides of the glass as Montessori methods became one of the innovations that engaged Fair visitors. The Montessori pedagogy on display in San Francisco in 1915 was foremost a pedagogy of attention. ‘When you have solved the problem of controlling the attention of the child, you have solved the entire problem of education’, the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Montessori as declaring at the National Education Association (NEA) conference held during the PPIE.3 In her schema, properly controlled ­attention would be the cornerstone of a progress-oriented social order that nurtured individuality and freedom. Specifically, Montessori sought to cultivate a form of absorptive attentiveness. In another address to the NEA, she told the story of a girl in her original Rome classroom deeply engrossed in a wooden block activity: Never before had I seen a child look with such “fixedness” upon an object, and my conviction about the instability of attention which goes incessantly from one thing to another, a fact which is so characteristic in little children, made the phenomenon the more remarkable to me (Montessori 1915).

Montessori associated boredom with exhaustion and listlessness. By contrast, this purposive, intense attention was regenerative and fortifying. She continued the story: I watched the child without interrupting her, and counted how many times she would do her work over and over. It seemed that she was never going to stop. As I saw that it would take a very long time, I took the little armchair on which she was sitting and placed the child and chair on the big table. Hastily she put the frame across the chair, gathered blocks and cylinders in her lap, and continued her work undisturbed. I invited the other children to sing, but the little girl went on with her work and continued even after the singing had ceased. I counted forty-four different exercises which she made, and when she finally stopped, and did so absolutely independently from an exterior cause that could disturb her, she looked around with an expression of great satisfaction, as if she were awakening from a deep and restful sleep (Montessori 1912, p. 65).

On Montessori’s view the child’s fixed, stable attention produced calmness and serenity. While natural, this did not come automatically. The children’s attention, though a self-possession, was typically ‘wandering and scattered’ to begin with. ‘The child seems to belong less to itself than to any object that may attract its attention’ (Montessori 1912, p. 66). Her pedagogy targeted attention itself (as a means

3  A minor but revealing textual difference appears in the version of the text that was published in the official NEA proceedings, where the “problem of education” is rendered as the “problem of its education,” thus referring more specifically to the individual child rather than the problem of education in general. However, if we assume that the NEA proceedings are more accurate to what Montessori said, the editing of this declaration in the popular press can be seen to reveal the insertion of a narrative of social salvation.

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and as an educational end). And to do this, Montessori heavily relied on the design of the material and physical environment of the classroom. The Montessori kindergarten San Francisco exhibit made considerable use of objects. Children practiced lacing and appropriately sorting graded wooden cylinders. Like many other reports, Frank Morton Todd, the author of the official PPIE history, discussed this didactic material in relation to a concept of freedom. Her devices were ‘intended to produce, not a repressed and standardized child governed from above, but an individual child, self-governed’, he noted. These physical objects were, in Todd’s 1915 account, ‘a matter of a designed environmental factor for a definite purpose’ (Todd 1921, p. 67). The purposive interior décor of the Montessori classroom also received attention. A photograph of the classroom printed in the 1916 US Bureau of Education report bore a caption noting that ‘the color scheme was lavender; the furniture a pearl gray’. Interestingly, this report is one of the few contemporary sources that offered a lukewarm assessment of the Montessori approach, with the author W. Carson Ryan noting that because of the ‘artificial conditions’, it was difficult to properly evaluate her methods. Nonetheless, Ryan stated that visitors ‘could not but be impressed with the attractiveness of the surroundings – the harmonizing color effects; simple, tasteful furniture; and the delightful manner of the directress’ (Ryan 1916, p. 99). Putting aside the classroom’s unusually exaggerated panoptic aspects (witness the windows opening onto the spectator’s viewing area in Fig. 8.1 below), it is still quite evident

Fig. 8.1  Montessori demonstration classroom 1915. Source: Ryan 1916, p. 99


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that the objects and environmental factors of the PPIE Montessori demonstration were explicitly envisioned as part and parcel of a governing apparatus. This impulse to govern via design did not occur in a vacuum, and one of the plausible explanations for the success of Montessori’s 1915 demonstration is that the classroom’s design technologies dovetailed with strategies being deployed across the exposition. The early twentieth-century development of architectural color schemes is a good example of a widely circulating interest in the control of human perception. The PPIE is noteworthy as the first World’s Fair to have its own official Director of Color (Neuhaus 1915, p. 48). In both the architectural design of the 1915 Exposition and in the Montessori demonstration, an emphasis was placed on fabricating particular forms of human attentiveness. These homologous projects aimed to produce attention that would be fortifying and soothing and to avoid distraction and overstimulation that could tire and degenerate both the individual and society. The color scheme of the Exposition used a pale pink and gray marble as its base, to which were added soft yellows, blues, reds, and several greens, all chosen so that ‘they were curiously and beautifully related, in some subtly harmonious way’ (Todd 1921, p. 348). A PPIE guidebook commented, ‘nothing excites the Exposition visitor more than the color scheme of the buildings’. However, the author, Eugen Neuhaus, a University of California professor of art, quickly amended this claim by noting that ‘excite’ wasn’t quite the right word since nothing was further from the designer’s mind ‘than to create excitement, unrest, or any of those sensations that might lead to fatigue or even create nervous breakdown’ (Neuhaus 1915, p. 11). The color scheme was much commented upon in the press and in visitors’ reports (e.g., Wilder and Wilder 1974, p. 36), and it is important to note that this design ‘manipulation’ was not hidden but was available for all to participate in. The Exposition visitor who was aware of the color design meant to soothe and awe her and the spectator who watched Montessori’s demonstration classroom attentively for hours on end were similar in that both were engaged in the deliberate operation of working on their own attentive practices. It also bears mentioning that the Fair’s overall layout and the architecture of individual buildings were composed with a similar governing of individuals in mind.4 Numerous reports on the 1915 Fair compare the coordinated architecture of its exhibit halls to the jumbled, motley constructions of earlier fairs. The San Francisco exhibition halls, including the Palace of Education and Social Economy in which the Montessori demonstration was housed, were similarly lit at night and were linked by a series of courtyards, each designed for a particular purpose. For example, the Court of the Four Seasons was designed to suggest ‘grace, beauty and peace in a land where the souls of philosophers and poets dwell in continued satisfaction’ (Maybeck 1915, cited in Eggener 1994, p. 212). Architectural historian Keith Eggener has discussed the politics of empire and mental illness that were integrated into the design of the Fair’s Palace of Fine Arts. With a rotunda and colonnades overgrown with vegetation, the Palace of Fine Arts was to suggest a classic  See the discussion in Sobe (2007).


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ruin. Against this backdrop of decay, the architect, Bernard Maybeck, sought to produce contemplative meditation. This was designed to cultivate inner emotional and psychological strengths, particularly, Eggener writes, for those who were to be the agents of modernity and empire. In the repetitive manipulation of objects and in melancholy, Montessori and Maybeck, respectively, were each accessing cultural forms that in 1915 were seen as laden with risk: there was the dangerous possibility that repeated movements as one might find in factory work and that melancholy as an incapacitating mental illness would enslave rather than liberate human beings. While this flirtation with risk may be uncanny coincidence, it seems to be no accident that both in early childhood education and in exhibiting visual art and sculpture, the design of the physical environment, its architectures, colors, and material objects confidently joined governing strategies. The boredom that concerned the PPIE designers resonates with Walter Benjamin’s 1935 ‘reception in a state of distraction’ description of the modern mode of collective consumption (Benjamin 1968). Those jaded exposition attendees who were startled to actually encounter something different in San Francisco were often described as affected by the calming tableau that offered restorative immersion. When she wrote of boredom, Montessori similarly associated it with suffering and exhaustion (e.g., Montessori 1912), and as we have seen, she strove to create a classroom that relied on affective experience to produce an absorptive engagement that countered fatigue. The design of school space provided surface that was seen in 1915 as valuable and promising for governing individuals.

Crow Island School, 1940 (Winnetka, Illinois) The second case of the careful design of school space linked to a particular mode of governing individuals through regulation on an affective plane comes from a northern Chicago suburb. Opened in the fall of 1940, the Crow Island School has been hailed since its construction as an exemplar of design thinking brought to education. In 1955 Architectural Forum designated it as ‘the most influential school of modern times’ (“Crow Island Revisited” 1955). Crow Island was held up as signaling a pivotal transformation in American school construction, from ‘older’ to ‘newer’ styles. Winnetka, Illinois’, school superintendent at the time, Carleton W. Washburne, had led the district since 1919 and had quickly developed a national and international reputation as a progressive education leader. He served as President of the New Education Fellowship, an interwar international progressive education association, and also played a key role in American education reconstruction efforts in Italy after World War II (White 1991). Washburne was an ardent champion of breaking with traditional schooling methods and the construction of the Crow Island School built on two decades of work of infusing progressive features across


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Winnetka’s school system.5 Designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen in conjunction with the firm of Perkins, Wheeler & Will, and named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, the building is often considered a landmark of modernist architecture. It was, in Washburne’s words, ‘to be our dream school … to crystallize in architecture the best of our educational thought’ (Washburne 1963, p. 139). Crow Island replaced the older Horace Mann School, located in the downtown commercial and civic center of Winnetka. The new school was built out of the town center on a larger (12 acre/4.8 ha) piece of property adjacent to wooded parkland in an expanding residential area of a wealthy town that prided itself on its residential character (Weisser 1995). Architectural historian Amy Weisser points out that the relocation of the elementary school from downtown public space into a residential subdivision cemented the link between education and family life. Both were thus imagined as somewhat removed from the public realm, and, fittingly, the nowvacant Horace Mann school was converted into a post office. For Washburne and his teachers, this shift reflected a core educational philosophy, which was that the school should be a home for the child. Crow Island was intended to be ‘a school to be lived in – another home’, Washburne wrote in 1942 (Washburne 1942, p. 66). One of the progressive features of Winnetka’s schools was a strong commitment to school-level  governance and decision-making. This translated into staff and teachers playing an extensive role in the creation of Crow Island. In the promotion and fame of the school, much was made of this democratized planning process. Numerous contemporary reports include quotes and excerpts from a letter to the design team written by Frances Presler, one of the lead Winnetka teachers. In Presler’s vision, the school should be inspiring, democratic, and above all ‘a setting for childlife’. Of the classrooms she wrote: The classrooms shall express inner tranquility which can be sustained. The atmosphere of these rooms which particularly are the school homes, should give feeling of security. These are especially the places of living together and should give feeling of inviting home-­ likeness, a setting in which constant, confident realization of self and others together can take place (Presler 1941, pp. 80–81).

Key here is a vision of the means through which the physical design of classroom space could lend itself to proper individual development, which was articulated here as a new, enlightened understanding of children’s psychological needs. The design detail of the Crow Island School ran deep. From furniture and fittings designed by Charles Eames to textiles and specialized ceramics pieces handcrafted by various members of the Saarinen family, the architecture and design of the school reflected an exacting attention to the symbolic messages and practical effects of the building’s design.6 Notably, each classroom itself was designed as a self-contained

5  For a thoughtful discussion of what explained the success of progressive education in Winnetka, see Zilversmit (1993). 6  See the discussion in Burke (2016).

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‘home-like’ unit.7 A primarily single-story structure employing brick, wood, and a considerable amount of glass, the Crow Island School featured a series of L-shaped classrooms distributed along the outer side of a long corridor lined with glass windows on the opposite side. Each classroom was to have its own distinctive cohesiveness and featured its own accent color – red, yellow, blue, or green was used on the door, cupboards, and drawers. As Washburne noted in a 1942 publication, the classroom ceilings were ‘lower than in most classrooms – 9 ft, as in homes’ (Washburne 1942, p. 65). The plywood furniture was moveable and arrangeable into a number of different layouts. While much of the original furniture has since been replaced, this 2011 photograph (Fig. 8.2) indicates that contemporary Crow Island classrooms retain many of these features, including a sense of domesticity as is suggested by the sofa and carpeted space next to the room’s expansive windows. Yet, the most critical design feature for ensuring, in Presler’s words, that children ‘feel unity between their home and school life’ was the overall unit-nature of each classroom (Presler, 1941, p. 81). The L-shape contained a 22 × 32 ft (6.7 × 9.7 m)

Fig. 8.2  Crow Island Classroom, Winnetka Illinois, USA 2011. Source: Cathrine Burke, personal photograph 7  The label “Unit School” appears in several early descriptions of the school, including a full-page headline in the 18 August 1940 Chicago Tribune Metropolitan Section announcing the opening of Crow Island.


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main room, along with a 12 × 16 ft (3.7 × 4.9 m) anteroom/workroom which contained a sink and a drinking fountain. Notably each classroom also contained its own bathroom as well as a separate entrance/exit to that classroom’s individual ‘outdoor classroom’.8 These were small grassy courtyards that might house a rabbit hutch or be used as a garden plot and opened onto the school grounds and larger parkland area surrounding the school. While Crow Island students also utilized the carefully designed school auditorium as well as several other specialty classrooms in the school, this model of the self-sufficient contained classroom was held up as one of the core design features that allowed for teaching in the school to attend to ‘proper’ individual development. Managing the child’s engagement was one of the school’s key concerns. In describing Crow Island’s innovations, Washburne put forth the contrasting ‘box-like rigidity’ and ‘unimaginative sameness’ of classrooms in traditionally constructed schools, noting: The old concept of education was to force unwilling children to sit still, keep quiet, and do as they were told. Thus admonished, they were force-fed book learning of a type that adults considered good for them. School buildings for these purposes had to provide space for even rows of desks, wall space for blackboards, good light, fresh air, and safety from fire hazards (Washburne 1942, p. 62).

In contrast, the ‘new education’ was oriented around ‘children’s lives, active, imaginative, expressive lives, the lives of future citizens of a democracy’. This meant that schools would be concerned with physical and emotional health. The architecture and design of the Crow Island School brought an aesthetic project together with an affective project in a bid to govern children. Similar to the 1915 Montessori classroom discussed earlier, an effort to mold individuals toward socially desired ends utilized architecture and design to nurture an immersive, absorptive engagement. Recall that according to Presler, the school’s classrooms ought to engender sustained inner tranquility. The self-contained classroom unit (with its evident analogies to the suburban single-family home) eliminated interruptions that might come from children needing to visit bathrooms down the hallway. The lighting system too was designed to produce uninterrupted engagement, with photovoltaic sensors that seamlessly activated overhead lights when the external natural light dimmed, such as might happen on an overcast day. Writing on the 15th anniversary of the construction of Crow Island, Architectural Forum noted that ‘we have become so used to schools skimped on calmness and warmth that most of us hardly notice the omission any longer – until we see something like Crow Island’ (“Crow Island Revisited” 1955). Just as the 1915 Montessori classroom innovations were not simply independent developments internal to the history of educational methods, we can similarly place the 1940 Crow Island School in relation to social and cultural currents of a particular place and time. The emphasis on classrooms and schools imparting home-like 8  In these respects, Crow Island designers appear to have drawn on Richard Nuetra’s work in California in the 1930s, as well as been influenced by Dutch and other European “Open Air” school models. See Ogata (2013).

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security is sometimes discussed in relation to postwar notions of care and Nikolas Rose’s arguments about the emergence across the twentieth century of governmentality that focuses on individuals’ subjective existence and relations with one another (Rose 1990). In the attention paid to producing democratic citizens, social-emotional security, and proper individual psychological development, Crow Island seems to anticipate many of the concerns and responses of the ‘postwar’ educational, political, and social context. Yet, as Kozlovsky points out, history of emotions scholarship often points to overlaps and continuities in emotional patterns in place of identifying radical breaks and discontinuities (Kozlovsky 2015, p. 116). From this angle Crow Island can be seen as part of a gradual progressive transformation in the design of schooling toward making the emotional lives of children a central part of the educational project.

Conclusion This chapter has sought to explore the ascription of affective effect to classroom design and school architecture by examining two instances wherein a particular classroom model attracted sensational attention and interest from both educators and the general public. Calmness and tranquility were hallmarks of both the 1915 Montessori demonstration classroom and the 1940 Crow Island classrooms. In the early part of the century, concerns about restlessness and fatigue appear to map onto modernist anxieties about rapid technological re-organization and help to explain, I argued above, the attractiveness of absorptive engagement displayed in California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. A similar sustained affective immersion in the social world of the school classroom marked the design intent of the mid-century suburban American classrooms seen in Winnetka, Illinois. In the cases examined here, emotional modulation was seen to aid in the fabrication of proper subjectivities and human capabilities, with the question of how best to attend to and engage with the contemporary situation figuring as an overarching design concern. In encouraging autonomy within a protected space, Crow Island designers were seeking a form of engagement that would be individually enhancing and socially productive. The foil for Crow Island was the ‘traditional’ school that purportedly effected a forced and ‘admonished’ engagement. In contrast to the absolute binaries of traditional schooling, the Winnetka design envisioned a classroom where the wanderings of the child – for example, to the child-height reading benches installed along the window walls of each classroom – would have enriching educational consequence. Montessori’s demonstration classroom similarly envisioned absorptive immersion as an individually and socially useful tool for navigating between the extremes of fleeting instability and the pain and fatigue of forced application. These two cases suggest that we examine the management of boredom as a generalized concern in school design across time. In this it is important to not just focus on the cognitive/perceptual play of concentration and distraction but to also con-


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sider the affective responses to school environments as they are experienced and anticipated. This chapter has focused on adult schemes to manage children’s engagement, and it suggests that historians and educators attend to the ways that schools produce both engagement and disengagement in and through their architectural and pedagogic designs.

References Benjamin, W. (1968). The work of art in an age of mechanical reproduction. In H. Arendt (Ed.), Iluminations: Essays and reflections (pp.  217–252). New  York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich original German publication 1935. Burke, C. (2016). A life in education and architecture: Mary Beaumont Medd. London: Routledge. Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2008). School. London: Reaktion Books. Crow Island Revisited. (1955, October). Architectural Forum, 103(4). Eggener, K. L. (1994). Maybeck’s Melancholy: Architecture, empathy, empire, and mental illness at the 1915 Panama-Pacific international exposition. Winterthur Portfolio, 29(4), 211–226. Gutek, G.  L., & Gutek, P.  A. (2016). Bringing montessori to America: S.S.  McClure, Maria Montessori and the campaign to publicize montessori education. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. Hinkle, F. R. (1915, September 11). A day with Dr. Maria Montessori and her youthful charges is an eyeopener for the average parent. San Francisco Chronicle. Kozlovsky, R. (2015). Architecture, emotions and the history of childhood. In S.  Olsen (Ed.), Childhood, youth, and emotions in modern history (pp. 95–118). New York: Palgrave. Kramer, R. (1976). Maria Montessori: A biography. New York: Diversion Books. Kurtze, P. (1995). A school house well arranged: Baltimore public school buildings on the Lancasterian plan 1829–1839. Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, 5, 70–77. Maybeck, B. (1915). Palace of fine arts and lagoon. San Francisco: Paul Elder. Montessori, M. (1912). Montessori method (A. E. George, Trans.). New York: Frederick Stokes Company. Montessori, M. (1915). My system of education. Journal and Proceedings and Addresses of the National Education Association, 53, 65. Neuhaus, E. (1915). The art of the exposition, personal impressions of the architecture, sculpture, mural decorations, color scheme and other aesthetic aspects of the Panama-Pacific international exposition. San Francisco: Paul Elder & Co. Ogata, A. F. (2013). Designing the creative child: Playthings and places in Midcentury America (pp. 108–116). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Presler, F. (1941, August). A letter to the architects, Crow Island School, Winnetka Ill. Architectural Forum, 75, 80–81. Rasmussen, K. (2004). Places for children – Children’s places. Childhood, 11(2), 155–173. Rose, N. (1990). Governing the soul: The shaping of the private self. London: Routledge. Ryan, W. C. (1916). Education exhibits at the Panama-Pacific international exposition. Bureau of Education Bulletin, 1, 99. Sobe, N. W. (2004). Challenging the gaze: The subject of attention and a 1915 montessori demonstration classroom. Educational Theory, 54(3), 281–297. Sobe, N. W. (2007). Attention and spectatorship: Educational exhibits at the Panama-Pacific international exposition, San Francisco 1915. In V. Barth (Ed.), Innovation and education at international expositions (pp. 95–116). Paris: International Bureau of Expositions/BIE. Sobe, N.  W. (2012). Researching emotion and affect in the history of education. History of Education, 41(5), 689–695.

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Sobe, N. W. (2015). Attention and Boredom in the 19th-Century American School: The ‘Drudgery’ of learning and teaching and the common school reform movement. In S. Reh, K. Berdelmann, & J. Dinkelaker (Eds.), Aufmerksamkeit Zur Geschichte, Theorie und Empirie eines pädagogischen Phänomens (pp. 55–70). Springer. Todd, F. M. (1921). The story of the exposition: Being the official history of the international celebration held at San Francisco in 1915 to commemorate the discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the construction of the Panama Canal. San Francisco: Panama-Pacific International Exposition Company. Washburne, C. W. (1942). Crow Island school – In Winnetka. American School and University, 14, 66. Washburne, C. W. (1963). Winnetka: The history and significance of an educational experiment. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. Weisser, A.  S. (1995). The excellent discussion of the planning and building of the school. In Institutional revisions: Modernism and American public schools from the depression through the Second World War (pp. 74–84). PhD Dissertation, Yale University. White, S. F. (1991). Progressive renaissance: America and the reconstruction of Italian education, 1943–1962. New York: Garland. Why all California Wears a Broad Smile. (1915, April). Sunset: The Pacific Monthly, 34(3), 636. Wilder, L. I., & Wilder, A. (1974). West from home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder to Almanzo Wilder, San Francisco, 1915. New York: Harper & Row. Zilversmit, A. (1993). Changing schools: Progressive education theory and practice, 1930–1960. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Part III

The Future of School and Governance

Chapter 9

The Digital Classroom: A Historical Consideration on the Redesigning of the Contexts of Learning Inés Dussel

Abstract  In the digital age, it is increasingly common that classrooms show a significant presence of technological devices that redesign their layout and daily interactions. However, this redesigning is less the result of the direct intervention of designers and architects than the effect of local and usually more silent arrangements that find ways to accommodate the demands of these devices in the existing physical and pedagogical environments. In the chapter, I present some of the current debates on transforming schools into ‘smart and sentient’ environments for learning and the new role of digital devices in them. Based on research done in Argentinean and Mexican classrooms, I then argue that there is a visible trend in their interactions and material layout that shows a shift from several artifacts and pedagogical devices (window, blackboard, fieldtrips, and playgrounds) that used to invite different trajectories for learning to an overwhelming presence of a single artifact that appears to synthetize all these possibilities: the screen. In the final section, I reflect on the direction of this shift and on the orientations that new design and pedagogies could take. I claim that studying the redesigning of classrooms in digitalized schools gives us access to ‘a history of our contemporary infrastructures of sense and knowledge’, in Orit Halpern’s terms, a history that is perhaps unsettling but that, precisely for that reason, needs to be interrogated.

Introduction There have been schools for some millennia now, however varied in their forms and styles. Yet the explicit activity of designing them is a much more recent development in human history. According to architecture historian Julie Willis, school design started in the mid-eighteenth century when the claims for universal education became official policy; schools were to be central machineries in the building of the nation, and their façades and interiors were to express and nurture their better I. Dussel (*) Department of Educational Research, CINVESTAV, Mexico city, Mexico © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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characteristics – order, hierarchy, and rational organization of space (Willis 2017). In the nineteenth century, demands for elegance and grandeur – related to the colonial dreams of many nations – coexisted with concerns about health and technical feasibility; in the twentieth century, function, safety, and the enhancement of learning gained relevance as design principles and are still the leading criteria in contemporary school architecture (See, notably, Burke and Grosvenor 2008; Burke 2013a). In the meantime, designers have become, in Vilem Flusser’s words, today’s gods. In Ancient Mesopotamia, the people who stood up in the hills and thought they could foresee the future – either by looking at the movements of the waters in the river or the clouds in the sky – were called prophets. But contemporary designers believe they can not only foresee the future but manipulate it and lead it to its technical perfection. The ‘designer’s way of seeing’ operates through a ‘pineal eye (…) that enables him (sic) to perceive and control eternities’ (Flusser 1999a, p. 42).1 Flusser ended his short essay on designers with a pun: ‘…thank God he [the designer] is unaware of this and sees himself as a technician or artist. May God preserve him in this belief’ (Flusser 1999a, p. 42). However, as seen in the rising power of technological corporations, Flusser’s joke might be outdated; in our contemporary world, design is completely immersed in the governing of the world, and it is a ruling rationality that is reorienting its aesthetics, ethics, and politics. Flusser’s arguments, in many ways prescient of contemporary events and dynamics, are still relevant for today’s debates on the relationships between design and governing. His ‘design as theology’ wanted to underscore the political and moral responsibility of design in the current state of affairs. By pointing to the tensions between function or technical perfection and morality, the Czech theorist stressed the need to bring into consideration the ethical implications of design; and he did so in a way that paid attention to the past as well as to the future, like Angelus Silesius, that looked simultaneously to time and to eternity.2 Taking inspiration from Flusser and also from Walter Benjamin,3 in this chapter I would like to approach the redesigning of classrooms that is taking place with the massive introduction of digital technologies looking simultaneously to the past and the future of schooling. In my analysis, classrooms are not fixed entities that belong to a previous era (as some designers claim today) but porous, precarious spaces, which have been and continue being shaped historically (Nespor 2000); they stand at the intersection of multiple trajectories and dynamics, and it is these trajectories and dynamics that must be studied if one wants to understand what is going on with today’s classrooms. I am particularly interested in the trajectories that involve material objects and artifacts in classrooms, and material layout of spaces and bodies. More generally, and in relation to the ‘designer’s way of seeing’ described by 1  According to Michael Hanke, Flusser’s essay was first published in the journal DR in 1991 (Hanke 2014, p. 9). 2  Walter Benjamin’s reading of the Angel, through Paul Klee’s painting Angelus Novus, is slightly different, as it talks about the past/the dead and the future (a storm called progress). See his (Benjamin 1968). 3  In particular I refer to his reflections on glass, steel, buildings, and exhibitions (Benjamin 1999).

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Flusser, it is noteworthy that the current redesigning of classrooms is being done, for the most part, without a notorious intervention from professional designers and architects in the school space, except that which comes through the artifacts and technologies themselves. I will claim that it is happening more silently, often as the result of local arrangements and budget constraints that try to find ways to accommodate the demands of the new devices in the existing physical and pedagogical environments and through seemingly minor adjustments of place and space – such as the role of windows, desks, and screens in classroom interactions. But even if silent and subtle, this redesigning seems to significantly affect the relationships between people and knowledge that take place in the classrooms. The chapter is organized as follows. In the next section, I will present some of the current debates on transforming schools into ‘smart and sentient’ environments for learning, i.e., from classrooms into labs and pods for learning. I will then discuss the shift from several artifacts and pedagogical devices (window, blackboard, fieldtrips, and playgrounds) that used to invite different trajectories and movements for learning to just one object that appears to synthetize all these possibilities: the screen. Based on my observations of classroom interactions in public schools in Argentina and Mexico, I will make reference to scenes that make visible some of these transformations. In the final section, I will reflect on the direction of these shifts and on the orientations that new design and pedagogies could take. Overall, I consider that studying the redesigning of classrooms in digitalized schools gives us access to ‘a history of our contemporary infrastructures of sense and knowledge’ (Halpern 2014, p. 8), a history that is perhaps unsettling but that, precisely for that reason, needs to be interrogated.

 he Redesigning of the Contexts of Learning in Digital T Classrooms An overview of the language that is prevalent in school design today can easily find some common topics, generally mobilized around digital culture and the emergent technologies. The talk about ubiquitous learning and learning landscapes is everywhere, and the idea is to overcome the ‘outdated industrial-age classrooms’ through the creation of ‘Next-Generation Learning Environments’ (Fisher and Newton 2014, p. 905, 903) that should be designed to meet the needs of the new learners and digital technologies. These new environments receive names such as personalized pods, zoned workflow spaces, or learning labs (Rudd et al. 2006); the keywords are individualization, flexibility, activity, and openness. Take, for example, an article published by Peter C. Lippman, a leading architect specialized in educational design, in the newsletter of the American Institute of Architects (Lippman 2002). Lippman criticizes the school for its focus on control and discipline; he claims that the time has come to reorganize it following the psychological principles of learning and of evidence-based design. While schools were hitherto conceived as closed systems, concerned with the vertical and horizontal


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circulation routes between administration and teaching areas, the desirable school should be open and take as its pivotal center the social and learning situations that take place in it. Schools, and particularly classrooms, cannot be a set of separate settings for distinct activities; they have to become integrated systems, where learning is extended ‘across and between settings’ (Lippman 2002, p. 4). The verbs and nouns that Lippman chooses are telling of the kind of reasoning that is behind this transformation: school design has to support the children’s active exploration of the environment, give access and support to the learners’ transactions with peers, and produce a variable space that helps children in their moving from peripheral and guided kinds of participation to full participation in learning activities. Lippman envisages a whole redesigning of the school space. Rooms (no longer classrooms) are to be understood as ‘areas’ for large group activities; the corridor, the stairs, and other smaller places are where individual, one-to-one, or small group activities will take place. Corridors and stairs are not to be considered as ‘linear routes’ to other activities but as ‘learning paths’ on their own, provided with workstations, niches, and alcoves (Lippman 2002, p. 4). Interestingly, the rhetoric and direction of this reform movement in school design are neglectful of its own historicity and of its debts with past architects that tested these ideas on the ground. For example, the open classrooms were tried out in the 1960s and 1970s (Logan 2017); turning corridors into study spaces was an idea developed by the architects David Medd and Mary Crowley Medd in the 1960s, with mixed results.4 But while the Medds and other progressive architects were trying to create more quiet, intimate spaces in schools to produce contemplation and thoughtfulness, and to let children experience schooling with greater freedom, the current trend seems to be to reorganize schools as transparent, all-visible spaces, where each corner is turned into a productive space and each niche, already predicted as a learning space, is squeezed out of its surprising potential. In contrast with the Medds’ plans for school spaces, there seems to be no hiding and no free play in this hyperconnected knowledge society: schools are to become factories of learning, as (just) another site for producing, acquiring, and passing on information.5 4  Catherine Burke, author of a seminal study on Mary Crowley, researched about Eveline Lowe Nursery and Primary School in Southwark (London): “Spaces were designed to offer and suggest a variety of possible uses … With this in mind, a long corridor area was clad in timber and divided into bays which might be used for study and group learning during parts of the day and could be adapted for dining in family groups at lunch times (…). On the other hand, a negative unpredicted outcome of this layout in practice was that children in the bases nearer the hall were regularly disturbed by children from more distant bases passing through on their way to PE or music, as there were no separate corridors” (Burke 2013b, p. 127). 5  The idea of the “factory of learning” was presented by Jan Masschelein and Maarten Simons in the Seminar “What’s the Matter with the (Art) School” that took place at BUDA, Kortrijk, in April 25th and 26th, 2017. It comes from Vilem Flusser: “A ‘school’ is a place of contemplation, of leisure (otium, schole)), and a ‘factory’ is a place that has given up contemplation (negotium, ascholia)” (Flusser 1999b, p. 49); as will be shown below, in the factory of learning, these differences no longer apply. On the school as suspension of time and space, see Jan Masschelein and Maarten Simons (2013).

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Thus, the possibility of schools becoming ‘another place’ – a distinctive environment for otium and study – is increasingly difficult (Darian-Smith and Willis 2017), and this is evident not only in this new language for school design but also in the daily interactions in classrooms. In recent fieldwork done in public schools in Argentina and Mexico, generally under-resourced and without major architectural interventions for some decades now, I could observe several situations in which it was clear that the classroom is increasingly analogous to other public spaces where young people are plugged in to their own devices.6 While I will be presenting in the following sections several examples of this, one scene that struck me during fieldwork was that students often asked for teacher’s permission to use their headphones to listen to music while they read or completed school tasks. This request was frequently agreed upon by teachers, convinced that replicating the domestic setting in classrooms would make students engage more willingly in schoolwork. As Orit Halpern said, in the cybernetic era that mingles design, technology, and pedagogy, space has to be smart and sentient, homely, warm (Halpern 2014). In relation to the classroom layout, that is, the arrangement of furniture, artifacts, and people in the classroom (Tondeur and others 2015), it was observed that in privileged schools or universities, it seeks to imitate airport lounges or cafeterias; in poorer ones it takes the form of small groups around a common table and more frequently of personalized stations (desks) where each student is relatively isolated in her/his production, able to play their favorite tune and create a cozy atmosphere, even if momentarily. The similarity with out-of-school experiences extends to the activities and dispositions that students have to perform, mostly oriented toward well-being and personal satisfaction; routines and exercises are to be avoided or ‘disguised’ as creative moments. Not surprisingly, these pedagogical arrangements show a notorious confluence with the languages and practices of technological corporations and contribute to the blurring boundaries between school and out-of-­school experiences.7 In the following sections, I would like to present some further reflections on the transformations that can be observed in the artifacts and routines of classroom related to the introduction of digital technologies. In particular, I would like to look at the redesigning of windows, blackboards, fieldtrips and excursions, and playgrounds and their confluence on a single artifact, the screen, that seems to synthetize 6  The corpus on which these observations and field notes are based is broad, and I can only mention here some of the field notes, as a sort of paintbrush strokes that describe scenes and situations. Four research projects were developed in Argentina and Mexico between 2011 and 2016, which included classroom observations in public secondary schools, in-depth interviews with teachers and students, and analysis of school homework that involve digital media (videos, documents, visual presentations). In Argentina the research was carried with a group of colleagues: Patricia Ferrante, Julieta Montero, Delia González, Ariel Benasayag, and Jaime Piracón, at FLACSO (Latin American School for the Social Sciences) and the Universidad Pedagógica. Overall, more than 40 classes were observed in the different projects, including different disciplinary subjects; 82 students and 64 teachers were interviewed in depth, on occasions twice or three times; the research corpus includes over 60 audiovisual texts made by students that were subjected to a socio-semiotic and genealogical analysis. 7  On the language and practices of technological corporations, see José van Dijck (2013).


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the different functions and trajectories that these other objects and practices promoted. As usual, the simplification is not absolute or all-encompassing; certainly, for every new single artifact, new trajectories emerge. However, the trend to make school space similar to any other space, and to make different devices converge into only one, is already present and is probably one of the most legitimate and well-­ known public discourses for classroom reform and innovation  – i.e., ubiquitous pedagogy, invisible learning, and so on. This redesigning is, as said before, happening without major physical changes to the architectural space, at least in the Argentinean and Mexican schools that were observed; but the classroom layout and the interactions and knowledge that circulate in them seem to be changing in significant terms, in ways that seem sometimes deeply unsettling.

From the Window to the Screen First, I would like to discuss the transformation of the classroom window into a screen, which is a fascinating thread to follow. Maarten van den Driessche, a historian of educational architecture, refers to the modern classroom as a room with a view (van den Driessche 2009). The window pointed simultaneously to the outside world (‘the view’) at the same time that it established a difference with it, defining an enclosed inside from which the outer world could be safely seen at a distance (‘the frame’).8 It is this dual quality that made it a significant piece in educational architecture. The history of school windows was analyzed by Catherine Burke in her beautiful essay on light in the history of education (Burke 2005). Either as decorative feature, as a channel for light, ventilation, or view, or as a site of control, the window became a privileged artifact placed at the conjunction of architecture, pedagogy, and politics in schools. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it knew a growing success, supported on technical and material improvements in size and cost but also on political strategies that shifted from spaces of confinement and enclosure (such as fortresses with heavy gates and thick walls) to buildings organized through ‘the calculation of openings, of filled and empty spaces, passages, and transparencies’ (Foucault 1977). Glass technologies played a major role in this transformation, allowing larger, smoother, and stronger panes (Di Robilant et al., 2015, p. 42). Burke studied the transformation of the school windows from ornaments in monumental school palaces to symbols of health and later of flexible and modern education. By the end of the nineteenth century, windows were to be high, so as to give as much light as possible and even to allow a great amount of sky views (Burke 2005, p. 137). There was debate about the correct height of the sills, which, in the interwar period and more decisively after WWII, was to be measured in relation to children’s

 On windows, see the work done by Manfredo Di Robilant, Niklas Maak, Rem Koolhaas, and Irma Boom (2015).


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Fig. 9.1  Classroom at the College of Humanities and Sciences – UNAM (Colegio de Humanidades y Ciencias, CCH-UNAM), Mexico, circa 1980. Courtesy of Blanca Flor Trujillo and the CCH-­ UNAM Archives

eyes when seated.9 Also, window walls became more fashionable, not just because of their light and heating qualities but because of the increasing importance of the view open to the outer world in twentieth-century pedagogies (see Fig. 9.1).10 But besides being a view of the outer world and a frame to see the world from a protected space, the window entails other dimensions that define how it operates spatially and in sensorial terms. For example, the window offers the possibility of a contact or physical connection with the world (as when the head sticks out to breathe some air or shout at someone or when the hand throws something outside); it is also a place and a destination in a building, not only with the bay window as an ‘exalted area of leisure’, reading or chatting, or where people sit or stand in order to monitor street activities (Di Robilant 2015, p. 20),11 but also as a site of display, a place

9  Alvar Aalto, the famous Finnish architect, designed Baker House Dormitory at MIT in 19461949, taking into consideration “the eyes of a seated, of a lying, of a standing [student] body - the three positions that define the daily cycle of the student’s life” (Di Robilant et al. 2015, p. 73). 10  The heating and light would become a problem in glass walls, leading to new technologies for thermal shielding, sound isolation, and radiation blockage (Di Robilant et al. 2015, pp. 112–113). 11  “Whores at the window, and ruffians in the market”, meaning honest women ought not spend their time at the window, just as honest men should not be idling in public places’, taken from A New Spanish and English Dictionary, John Stevens 1706 (Di Robilant et al. 2015, p. 8).


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where one can be seduced and seduce others, as the display windows in shops.12 The window is a locus or surface that has a life of its own because it acts as a threshold or a boundary between the inside and the outside and allows, as said before, ‘a calculation of openings’, a regulation of contacts and movements.13 In the new context of flexible, open learning environments, it is not surprising that the window is losing its relevance as a pedagogical liminal space: where there are no boundaries, there is no limen or threshold. As will be developed below, screens are replacing windows as views and framings of the world. But some scholars refer to a longer, much deeper shrinking of the window that predates the digital era and goes back to the first half of the twentieth century. An example of this shrinking is the spread of the window wall, which is not a window but a glass that contains the promise of a building that continues outside and has no end. Another instance is the glassed skyscraper, a metaphor for an open, buoyant society: ‘The slow death of the window as a singular articulated area, a hole punctured in a wall in order to select a particular view, and even as an anthropomorphic metaphor, an “eye”, was replaced by the idea of a uniform screen wrapped around a building’ (Di Robilant 2015, p. 7). The screen wrap is not just a metaphor: tech companies are currently developing transparent touchscreens that are expected to supersede windows within 10–20 years (Di Robilant 2015, p. 138). With this new design, the customer will be able to choose her/his preferred view and graduate sunlight and heating, saving enormous amounts of energy and money. However, it might be said that the exchange implies a high cost from human beings, who will have to give up on the notion of an outer world that goes beyond the projection of one’s own desires and that stays out of reach from humane manipulation.14 But others might rejoice on this prospect, like Flusser’s ‘designers as gods’ who might be fully in command of the technoscape of the near future.15

12  For an excellent study on the display windows that hosted ‘the daily (and especially nightly) acts of seduction that occurred on the city street, marked by the entanglement of desires related to consumerism and sexuality in modern urban life’, see Lungstrum (1999, p. 122). 13  This regulation included not only windows but other objects as well: “An arrangement of the windows, so as to secure one blank wall, and at the same time, the cheerfulness and warmth of the sunlight, at all times of the day, with arrangements to modify the same by blinds, shutters, or curtains” (Barnard 1854, p. 47). 14  This prospect sounds unsettling and highly problematic from an ethical, political, and epistemic point of view. Yet, it is reasonable to say that “in our culture of simulation, the notion of authenticity is for us what sex was for the Victorians - threat and obsession, taboo, and fascination.” It might be worth asking whether authenticity and life (not artificial) still have an intrinsic value in the current state of affairs (Turkle 2011, p. 4). 15  The study done by Manfredo di Robilant and others underscores the increasing safety and quality requirements to produce windows, at least in the European Union, that makes it virtually impossible to be manufactured by small business and that have produced a monopoly by big corporations that are the only ones that can afford scale and costs and that then can impose styles, sizes, and qualities. Design and production have more to do with the current state of affairs than it is often assumed (Di Robilant 2015).

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Fig. 9.2  Classrooms with obstructed views. College of Humanities and Sciences – Azcapotzalco, Mexico City 2016. Courtesy of Blanca Flor Trujillo

The shrinking or even death of the window is also affecting schools. On the one hand, there has been a movement in the last years to cover or darken the school windows in Latin America, partly because of academic pressures to make children focus on their schoolwork (the world as a distraction) and partly because of fear of the outside world (the world as a dangerous place). Shields, bars, and heavy curtains are replacing clear views to the outside or light shades or curtains that promised occasional openings (see Fig.  9.2). On the other hand, digital technologies have contributed to this shift. In Mexico, where interactive whiteboards were installed as part of a federal program, Enciclomedia, which started in 2006, the heavy curtains were to provide the adequate shadows to make the screen brighter. Most interactive whiteboards are out of order today, but the heavy curtains remain in place, turning classrooms into darker spaces, and curtailing the possibility of looking outside the window, or turning it into a liminal space. The classroom layout and role of windows in classrooms is different in Argentina, where a federal program, Conectar Igualdad, distributed one netbook per student in all public secondary and tertiary schools. In that country, the digitalized classrooms look different from analog ones, not necessarily darker but certainly much more individualized and dispersed. It is interesting to note that, several years after the program started in 2010, most of its netbooks are not working or are not taken to schools. As in Mexico, it can be said that ‘all that glitters (…) end[s] up as a rusty


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heap of useless technology’ (de Laet and Mol 2000, p. 251). However, classrooms are not technology-free because the official netbooks are not there; the students bring their own devices, the majority of which are handheld smartphones on which they do social media and Internet searches, take pictures, and play videogames. This overwhelming presence of digital devices is notorious, both visually and aurally; the level of noise is higher than it used to be, adding to the small-group talk the beeps of instant messaging or of games. The classroom layout is organized around individual desks or small groups of desks and chairs (3–4 students), mostly looking at each other and not to the front, and sometimes organized in circles. The ambience of the classrooms seems like a cafeteria, with dispersed centers of attention. Schoolwork gets done, although it is difficult to tell if in a similar or lesser degree than before. While this cannot be credited or blamed exclusively on digital technologies, the intensive use of digital devices certainly helps to configure classrooms as decentralized spatial arrangements. The window, in this setting, becomes irrelevant; in several classrooms even the school bell that signals the end of a school hour is not perceived as a break, and students continue doing their chores or looking at their screens during recess time. The material shrinking of the window also seems to be related to current changes in design, pedagogies, and educational policies, which bring new meanings to, or even oppose, the main features of the window: the view, the frame, the place, the limen, or contact with the world. On one level, it can be said that pedagogical discourses are increasingly less about the world and more about the learner and the self (Yates 2012), turning the exploration inwards and not outwards. On another level, to have strong frames for knowledge and activities is no longer valued in a context where learners have to be flexible and move seamlessly through diverse learning environments; the language of competences and skills purports the ability to look across disciplines and adopt a general point of view. Compared to the window as a place from where to stand in order to watch others, the screen seems to do this in much better, efficient, and anonymous ways. But also standing still in order to look is increasingly devalued; the new and valuable way of learning is to be propelled through space, as in videogames and navigational maps (Jenkins 2007, p. 37). More broadly, the notion of ubiquitous learning devalues the idea of a specific place that is granted a given quality: anything can be done anywhere. The last trait, related to the window as a liminal place to contact the world, is also in decline, as physical contact is not always welcome in a risk-avoidance setting.16 These prevalent pedagogical and social discourses seem to undermine the role of the window as an important piece in classroom interactions. Will windows disappear? Some contemporary trends seem to suggest so. For example, the immersive universes of digital technologies make the outside world appear as a nuisance that has to be manipulated and adjusted to the user’s needs and desires, and thus the action of opening up and feeling the world becomes increasingly marginalized. Another function of the window, which is to offer a picturesque 16  See, for example, the prevalence of texting over calling or visiting in Sherry Turkle (2011, Chap. 1).

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view, might still be valued, although digital images can provide a better-than-real substitute. However, as the founder of Transsolar, a large firm for climate engineering, says, ‘despite all the many things windows can do in the twenty-first century – generate energy, self-tint for shading, insulate – most people just want them to open’ (Schuler, quoted in di Robilant et al. 2015, p. 121). While this might be upsetting for some designers, the quest to feel the air and sense some freshness may be more auspicious for our common life in the planet. Perhaps in the future of shrunk or fake windows, schools will have to consciously offer learning spaces where children are allowed to experiment with windows, open them, and play with a framed view and a liminal place, as part of a sensorial and affective experience that might become less common.

From the Blackboard to the Screen If the screen has become a substitute for the window, it also seems to be replacing the blackboard as a public surface and focal point in the classroom. This second change is related to the shifts in design, pedagogies, and educational policies that were referred to in the previous section but bears some specific traits that are worth looking at. In contemporary critiques of schooling, the blackboard appears as a clear symbol of an outdated pedagogy. One example of this rhetoric can be found in Sir Ken Robinson’s animated TED talk, ‘Changing Education Paradigms’,17 posted in 2010. The blackboard appears halfway through the video, pointed at by a dull teacher, and shows a text that reads: ‘TODAY’S LESSON: BORING STUFF’, with some ­geometrical figures that say ‘blah, blah, blah, blah’. The child who is looking at the blackboard has to divide his attention between ‘cool stuff’ such as iPhones, computers, 100s TV channels or sneakers, and the blackboard; the teacher orders the child to ‘take your pill and focus,’ but the focus of attention is no longer clear (‘on what?’ answers the boy). While the argument is a strong statement against the medicalization of children for attentional problems,18 with which many educators would agree, the image of the blackboard as part of backwards technologies that are unequivocally boring, rigid, and useless deserves a second look. Looking again simultaneously to the past and future of these artifacts, it can be said that the history of the blackboard shows other trajectories for knowledge and children than the ones that are being congealed in these critiques, which might also be at work at present or in the future. Jean Hébrard, a renowned historian of pedagogy in France, states that, when it appeared in the eighteenth century with the Christian Brothers, the blackboard was a major pedagogical revolution. It provided  See, last accessed on May 20th, 2017. 18  The child who is sitting in front of the teacher and the blackboard is drooling and is seated on a platform that reads “Ritalin 10 mg.” 17


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an erasable surface on which to do exercises, allowing teachers to move beyond the oral lesson on reading to include calculus and writing (the three Rs). But the blackboard’s main trait was that it was a public surface, a point of attention for large groups of students, that allowed the oral lesson to be combined with written exercises that could be done and corrected collectively (Hébrard 1995). If beforehand the exercise was confined to elitist schools where writing technologies and materials were available for the few students who could afford them, the blackboard allowed the exercise to be adopted in primary schools in a very economic and efficient way. Blackboards could be of different materials  – in fact, a Brazilian historian of education, Valdeniza Maria Lopes da Barra, researched the origins of the slates in stone, from which their French ancient name, ardoise, came.19 It was called ‘foundational stone’ in the nineteenth century (in singular, as opposed to the slates that could be individually held by each student) and could be portable or permanently fixed to the wall (da Barra 2016, p. 187; Barnard 1854, pp. 374–376). The materials were varied: polished stone, wood, plaster, and canvas cloth. In his famous manual of school architecture written in 1854, Henry Barnard included detailed recommendations on how to make a blackboard with these different materials, emphasizing several coats of black painting and a frame to avoid chipping or warping (Barnard 1854, p. 374); the tone of his recommendations was in line with a do-it-yourself ethos for teachers and school officials that were creating pedagogies and artifacts. But in the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876, the b­ lackboards were already industrial pieces; the French envoys were marveled at the superiority of the US products and quickly adapted their regulations for materials and sizes.20 At that time, the pedagogy of the blackboard was far from being the locus of “boring stuff”  – as Ken Robinson states; on the contrary, it was conceived as an active method, which set students and knowledge in motion. This can be seen in the nineteenth-century writings of a well-known Argentinean educator, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–1888), President of the Republic but also Secretary of Education before and after holding the nation’s highest rank. For him, blackboards were ‘the most efficient instrument of teaching, and the school which does not have them is like a carpenter’s workshop without a bench’ (Sarmiento 2001, p. 157). It was the piecemeal of any classroom and was to be used in all subjects, not only writing or arithmetic, as it satisfied several goals simultaneously: it promoted an equal instruction, being a public surface that everyone could see and follow; it kept the child active, interspersing passive activities such as copying with more active ones such as standing up, walking, and writing on the blackboard; it allowed a sustained focus for children’s attention. Sarmiento gave examples of how it should be used: in spelling, paragraphs with mistakes should be copied on the blackboard, and students should come to the front to discover and correct the errors. In handwriting, a spotless English writing should be copied so that students imitated it to perfection and learned the ‘perfect idea of the form’. In grammar, letters in a word could be  Apparently deriving from a Celtic word, ard = stone (da Barra 2016, p. 30).  The French delegate was Ferdinand Buisson, later school inspector and author of a renowned Dictionnaire de Pédagogie in 1889 and 1911 (da Barra 2016, pp. 298ff).

19 20

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erased and rewritten, forming new words. These exercises combined different pedagogies: some were traditional, assuming a fixed position for the student and leaving as the only possibility that of copying the right form; others looked more modern and implied an active subject that read, evaluated, corrected, and remade his or her own writing, even including playful activities (Sarmiento 2001, p. 158). Blackboards were the point of intersection of physical as well as mental activities; they were the surface where new group pedagogies could be developed and expanded. It can be said that the technologies changed from stone to wood and to plastic surfaces, and from chalk and pencils to erasable markers, but the functions and uses remained consistent for over a century. However, in digitalized classrooms, blackboards are being replaced by screens, and these screens are not only part of the official state programs that distribute technological equipment – such as it happened in Argentina and Mexico – but mostly come as part of individual devices brought to the classrooms by the students – what the corporate language refers to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) situations, and that is seen increasingly in most classrooms all over the world. In my fieldwork, the BYOD classroom scene is happening in spite of the initial policies that were supposed to homogenize the provision of digital technologies in the classrooms. In Mexico, where whiteboards were part of a federal policy to equip schools with interactive technologies, they became obsolete or inoperable soon21; computer labs are still present in several schools, but the penetration of handheld devices has by far exceeded the federal provision, and the technological park is much more diverse and heterogeneous than planned. In Argentina, the federal program opted since its inception for a 1:1 strategy, distributing individual netbooks among five million public school students. In some school districts in the southern country, interactive whiteboards were introduced, but they suffered a similar cycle of obsolescence than in Mexico or were included in small numbers that caused other conflicts between teachers and led to a growing dissatisfaction.22 In the classrooms observed, mostly in secondary schools, the blackboards were hardly used, not even for inscribing names or dates; in many cases, they showed students’ drawings or inscriptions, such as other walls in the schools, evidence that it is no longer a privileged site of teachers’ control or initiatives (see Fig. 9.3). The most common scene was that students were looking at their devices (be they netbooks, tablets, or cell phones); the layout, as said before, was generally of small groups of three to four students, each with their own device or sharing a netbook. Their screens contained several images that were not part of school tasks or content; the students could be in Facebook, watching pictures or videos, or doing Internet searches. In several occasions, the teachers showed images (videos, presentations)  It can be said that, as with other large-scale urban programs, “[t]hese megaprojects were treated as one-off expenses rather than long-term investments” (McGuirk 2014, p. 45). 22  For example, in one of the schools that was observed, as there was only one whiteboard, the school authorities decided to place it in a common area, with too much light and noise; this made it very difficult to use with class groups. In another school, the whiteboard was monopolized by the IT teacher, and this generated complaints from her colleagues. 21


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Fig. 9.3  Agrarian School No.1, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina 2014. Photograph by Santiago Hafford as part of the project Retratos de la Educación Argentina (Ministerio de Educación de la Argentina, 2015), conceived and directed by Julieta Escardó

to the whole group through a projector, in most cases using a clear wall and not the blackboard (portable screens are not common in public schools; teachers sometimes carry their own projector to the school) (see Fig. 9.4). This public screening requires moving the front of the classroom to a side or back wall or removing the blackboards from the front walls; in these cases, the shift from the blackboard to the screen-wall is very explicit and materialized through particular gestures that imply turning away from or physically removing the blackboard. But as said before, simplification is always resisted by other complications. In the scenes observed, there were other shifts at stake, which would need further scrutiny but that I will present briefly. The blackboard and the computer screen have some traits in common, for example, that they can act  – as in large screens  – as public surfaces but also that they can both be erasable surfaces. For Jean Hébrard, the possibility of a continuous exercise that does not leave a trace of previous mistakes might indeed produce a profound transformation of teaching pedagogies. Hébrard foresees that the computer will be integrated differently in primary schools and at the secondary or college level; while the latter might be happier with the fact that there are no traces of previous versions or mistakes, as they are usually the realm of a “finished knowledge,” in primary schools, where there is a need to open up the process of learning into its parts and work on the different versions of a text or a calculus, it might be more difficult to replace the blackboard with the screen. Hébrard says that the couple ‘lesson/exercise’, ‘to show/not to show’, and ‘exercise

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Fig. 9.4  One netbook per one child project in Colegio Sarmiento, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina 2011. Courtesy of Carolina Gruffat

your knowledge/show your knowledge’ are still operating in the space of primary schools. ‘They are precisely at the very heart of that which constitutes the school, that is, in that place where one has to show as soon as one is learning, as soon as one is knowing’ (Hébrard 1995, p. 160). He foresees, then, that the primary school ­pedagogies will present more challenges for the introduction of screens than at the secondary school. Yet, as said before about the window, school artifacts stand at the conjunction of pedagogies and politics as much as of design and material economies. In the secondary school classrooms observed, things were not going the way that Hébrard predicted: the fragmentation of the school exercise in individual screens was not easily accepted by teachers or required other adjustments that produced disturbing results for them. It was clear that the production of visible evidence of knowledge in individual screens exceeds the teachers’ capacity to look at these multiple evidences, because of the size of the groups but also because of the available time to do that. It is not surprising, then, that teachers tend to rely on well-known strategies to evaluate these evidences: they ask for very simple tasks that can be followed up as checklists and perform sparse checks on what is being done on the screens. In many of the schools observed, and despite all the talk about innovative ways of teaching brought forth by digital technologies, the pedagogical renewal toward significant, creative learning seems not to be taking place, at least not until now.


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There is another shift that seems more efficient from my standpoint: the loss of a public arena in classrooms. Blackboards provided a surface of interaction where procedures and results could – at least potentially – be confronted and discussed, where exercises could be developed and sustained collectively and where the rhythm and flow of the classroom could move between places – from the back to the front, from oneself to others’ worlds. Connected classrooms seem to be much more sedentary and fixed than it is claimed by connective technologies, not only physically but also in terms of the trajectories of knowledge and experiences that are made available for students. In the classrooms that were observed, the students seemed to be increasingly isolated, on many occasions left to follow the well-worn paths of social media platforms or the ‘boring’ ones of control-bound school pedagogies, but generally deprived of other relevant interactions with well-trained teachers or enthusiastic peers with whom they could meet in group activities. The ‘learning pods’, then, do not necessarily expand the students’ worlds but even seem to shrink them to the size of their previous trajectories or that of the standardized pedagogies that need to serially produce evidences of their learning.

From the Playground and the Fieldtrip to the Screen The last shift I would like to present in this chapter is the one that is erasing the notion of the outside of the classroom, particularly through the diminishing importance of the fieldtrips and outside playgrounds in schools as spatial practices that give an experience of an outer world. In their case, this experience is not only, as in the window, gained through looking or smelling but also by touching, walking, or sensing a different environment in the open air, that is, an immersion in an outer space. I will sketch, even if briefly and broadly, the trajectory of these two spatial practices, taking into account work done by European, US, and Latin American scholars but aware that these generalizations might obscure significant national and local differences. In the case of the playground, historians of education and design claim that it started as an educational public movement in the nineteenth century, basically propelled by medical doctors who promoted it as a healthy and safe space for child development and by school inspectors who deemed it a ground for moral training.23 Throughout the twentieth century, it went through several transformations; in the 1920s, it was a cornerstone for social reform, as a moral space for children opposed to the street, but it was also heavily intervened since the 1940s by psychologists and doctors like Arnold Gesell and Benjamin Spock who advocated for the psychologization of children’s activities and development (Burkhalter 2016). In the 1960s, there were debates on whether to leave spaces open and how much ‘design’ and objects had to be put in schoolyards. The idea was that playgrounds had to be in  Among others, see Ian Hunter (1988) on James Kay Shuttleworth’s proposals for school playgrounds.


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continuity with real play spaces, in a seamless transition. Also, because of the spread of TV in children’s lives, the playground appeared as an active site of engagement and creativity for children and thus started to be favored as an educational place. However, the 1980s brought other problems, particularly in the USA and in some western European countries, that put them under suspicion: a ‘growing aversion to risk’, privatization, and commercialization led to a decrease in playgrounds; safety requirements made it more difficult to build and expand their spaces. Another constraint emerged from the judicialization of school life, with an increased regulation of the interactions between bodies and of the liability of school personnel in case of accidents or injuries; also, kiosks and cafeterias invaded the common spaces, leaving less room for unregulated play. All these trends turned playgrounds into heavily regulated and surveilled spaces, although there had been trends to promote participatory redesigning and public reappropriation of playgrounds, notably in Scandinavian countries, that have brought other dynamics and discourses as well – ecology, participation, and well-being (Burkhalter 2016, pp. 41–48). Fieldtrips were also common in the nineteenth century, particularly in its last decades when the importance of natural science grew in the curriculum and when sensual empiricism gained relevance as an epistemology of knowing through observation and direct perception (Feldman 2010). Schools were to give courses in the parks or woods, in a relaxed atmosphere that showed that classrooms were not military barracks (Le Coeur 2011, p. 109). As with blackboards and playgrounds, these activities called in the active side of learning, particularly through movement and sometimes through experimentation. As Noah Sobe says, they implied ‘pedagogical travels outside the enclosures of schools’, subjected to pre- and post-evaluations, whose intensity could provide “sticking points” around which social ideals and regulative principles congeal and cross a threshold of visibility’ (Sobe 2006, p. 158). Sobe studied the relationship of fieldtrips with nation-building; fieldtrip destinations included natural science museums as well as patriotic landmarks and sites of memory that were to cement a collective identity. But in recent years, as has already been said, in several countries the risk-avoidance ethos and the judicialization of school life have made it more difficult to organize fieldtrips; in Latin America, another reason that has to be factored in for the diminishing importance of fieldtrips is the cost of the trips, which has to be subsidized by each family – and in public schools, this might be an obstacle for its occurrence. But in several scenes observed during the fieldwork, these spatial practices are being replaced with an exploration on the screen. One example already mentioned, that of the recess or break being undistinguishable from class time, can be seen under a different light when considering the blurring space and time of classrooms. This blurring occurs in both directions, as when students perform actions that would have been recreational (Facebook) during class time but also when they do schoolwork during recess time. A spatial consequence is that the school playground becomes less important as a site of interaction, and several students remain inside the classrooms checking their devices. Also, it is not uncommon that children are more sedentary in the playground, sitting on the floor to chat, play with their handheld devices, or take pictures with them. In the schools observed in Argentina and


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Fig. 9.5  Screens in the playground. Argentina 2015. Photograph by Diego Levy. as part of the project Retratos de la Educación Argentina (Ministerio de Educación de la Argentina, 2015), conceived and directed by Julieta Escardó

Mexico, teachers remarked as a positive outcome that there is less rough play during recess time; but they were also concerned that most of the interactions occurred through screens and that there might be less social and physical play in the groups (see Figs. 9.5 and 9.6). In relation to fieldtrips, while they have not totally disappeared in the schools that were part of my research, it could be observed nonetheless that most of the exploration of the environment is done through Internet searches or virtual tours, for example, of museums that offer virtual tours or search engines that replace libraries or archives. In particular, art teachers rejoice in the fact that the possibility to visit important museums and see much more diverse artistic practices is now at a click’s distance. This is undoubtedly an expansion of the visual repertoire of the classroom, but it can also be said that experiencing the world becomes, more often than not, looking at it through the screen; the kind of operations and sensorial experiences involved have the risk of becoming homogeneous and less dense in interactions and intersections. A final note about these shifts includes the privileging of video productions as a pedagogical strategy for exploring the world in the schools observed in Argentina and Mexico. As part of the new creative pedagogies, students are increasingly asked to produce videos as school assignments. This task demands them to search for images and text, to create a narrative, and to decide how to tell it visually; in a way, it is a very effective tactics for the sedentarization of bodies and for the production

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Fig. 9.6  Stunning views. School no. 6, Laguna Escondida, Province of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina 2014. Photography by Sebastián Szyd, as part of the project Retratos de la Educación Argentina (Ministerio de Educación de la Argentina, 2015), conceived and directed by Julieta Escardó

of a dominant visual position that – as much as with the screen-window – is taught to be in command of the world. However, in what could be observed in the classroom scenes already mentioned, and despite all the talk about the multiple paths opened up by the Internet, the travels that students take online seem to be short and predictable: they move across the lines that are set by the search engines, mostly Google or YouTube; their margins for producing different narratives and images of the world were scarce, and that is probably related to what the school pedagogies are already offering them but is not expanded automatically by their searching online or creating videos. For example, we asked the students how they selected the images that were included in their videos or presentations, and their answers referred to the order defined by the search platforms (‘the ones that came first’) or the ones that looked ‘nicer’; both criteria point to potentially standardized values that leave scarce room for negotiations or destabilizations of the visual and textual canons. Compared to the school fieldtrips that Noah Sobe described in his study, the trajectories of knowledge and people, then, are not necessarily wider or richer; while they might be more cosmopolitan and global than before, they seem to be less sensorially varied and rich. Also, the epistemological challenges they pose are not necessarily more complex than the ones students used to face in real-time interactions with other human beings and with unpredictable outcomes. As said before, these configurations are not only the result of technological devices but also of pedagogical and political entanglements that might be very different from what


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h­ appens in other national or local settings; however, I would like to argue that the shift from an outer world to an interior, technologically defined, sedentarized environment – as is seen in augmented reality and other technological developments – poses significant challenges to the classroom layout and to the school as a space of interaction that are not always visible in contemporary debates about the digitalization of classrooms.

Concluding Remarks What I have tried to argue throughout this chapter is that the redesigning of digitalized classrooms is already taking place, even when, as in the case of Argentina and Mexico, no major architectural intervention is seen in schools. The presence of digital devices is changing the use and function of key artifacts and spatial practices in classrooms, and even if these changes have specific overtones in different national and local settings, there seem to be some trends that speak of major shifts at play. I have focused on the shrinking of the window as a view and a frame of the world, on the displacement of the blackboard as a public and common focal point in the classroom, and on the decline of the playground and the fieldtrip as significant socialization and knowledge experiences in schools that marked a regulated contact with the outside world and that also established a different time-space in relation to the enclosure of classrooms. In their demise, one artifact is emerging, so far victorious: the screen. My argument has been that this shift implies a certain impoverishment of experience in the classroom. From hitherto multiple textures, smells, and shapes, the interaction now is condensed on one flat surface, subjected to tactile manipulation and to visual interaction, perhaps increasingly aural too, as can be seen in the expansion of headphones in classrooms. From connecting with other human bodies with faces, voices, and gestures, there is now a connection through digital devices that privilege a visual medium of inscription (letters, signs) and sometimes an aural mode (music, voices) or haptic technologies such as touchscreens that bring in a different rhythm and pace to human communication. Is this bad or good? There are critical scholars who see new possibilities in the screen that were already present in the window but that can now reach farther and deeper grounds. For example, the late Anne Friedberg said that: The computer screen is both a “page” and a “window,” at once opaque and transparent. It commands a new posture for the practice of writing and reading –one that requires looking into the page as if it were the frame of a window. The computer screen adds new depth to the perpendicular surface. Its overlay of “windows” –open to different applications for word-processing, Web-browsing, emailing, downloading- transforms the screen surface into a page with a deep virtual reach to archives and databases, indexed and accessible with barely the stroke of a finger (Friedberg 2006, p. 19).

9  The Digital Classroom: A Historical Consideration on the Redesigning…


In her view, the screen as a window is not sequential but simultaneous and multiple; it demands other operations, which are still ‘framed’, that is, selected and separated from other activities. Friedberg goes on to say that ‘[t]he next generation is seating in front of a screen, in front of the frame of a “window”. Their interaction with the screen may be different, but if it is, it makes the intransigence of the frame a chilling constant, one with inexorable cultural power’ (Friedberg 2006, p. 244). More than 10 years after she wrote these final comments, it is not clear if the ‘framing’ will continue to be a relevant feature in screens; perhaps the new shift will be from the screen as frame to the immersive technologies of 3D glasses, virtual reality, built-in chips for communicating, or the window-screen walls of houses with regulating control of heat, light, and view. 3D glasses include less projections of the real world than other data or records built-in inside a picture, records that are not out there but that are supposed to enhance our experience of the real (the better-­ than-­real) image. One way to look at this shift, more pessimistic than Friedberg’s view, is to see it as a movement from multiplicity and otherness (of the world, of other human beings, of the images of the world, of the unknown and the unpredictable) to an expansion of the same (of the commanding self, of what can be manipulated and adjusted and who can do it, of the algorithm, of data). Yet, as historians of media and technology remind us, screens can also be the site of multiplicity and encounters; there are conflicting possibilities in them.24 As said before, these trends are not all-encompassing and are not happening everywhere or to the same extent. But I believe that, at any rate, these are very concrete pathways that are inscribed and already present in contemporary practices. I would like to claim that design and pedagogy could stress other features in the screens and also other artifacts in the classroom so as to undermine these trends. One such direction is to struggle to preserve the classroom as a site for study or otium, that is, for a distinct activity and experience of the world that requires particular languages and modes of inquiry. In that respect, I would say that pedagogy should not adhere so quickly to the sounds and chimes of the factory of learning and try instead to set apart a different “frame” for its own activities, organizing real and metaphorical windows from where to look at the outside world, and excursions and fieldtrips that give an opportunity to experience the world without a predefined format or outcome, such as in the video production or the virtual tour. The second direction I would argue for design and pedagogy is that they help to maintain and expand the quality of the classroom as a public forum, an agora in which speech, debate, proofs, persuasion, seeing together, and experiencing the world with others are practices that are exercised collectively and following some rules, as part of an intergenerational public conversation (Latour 2005). I would like to close these remarks with an idea presented by Jan Masschelein, a philosopher of education whose ideas have been a guiding line in my reflections about the redesigning of classrooms:


 See, for example, the essays included in Chateau and Mouré (2016).


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I am not pleading for the return of the “good old days,” nor for the restoration of the “traditional classroom” or the “old master” figure, but I do plead for a consideration of the new classroom that does not overlook the old school amid current developments, but attempts to discover new interpretations to it and to articulate its form in new ways (Masschelein 2014, p. 53).

I am convinced that the window, the blackboard, the playground, and the fieldtrip can offer valuable experiences for the newer generations in their learning about the world, if we are set to organize interesting and relevant trajectories of knowledge around them. They have helped to define the classroom and the school as ‘another place’, as a distinct social space for learning and studying with others and for experiencing the world with a certain quality that included touching, smelling, and hearing; they might still help to do that in a world that is still needing such places where people can gather, talk, and learn from each other in multiple and unpredictable ways.

References Barnard, H. (1854). School architecture, or contributions to the improvement of schoolhouses in the United States. New York: Charles B. Norton. Benjamin, W. (1968). Theses on the philosophy of History. In H.  Arendt (Ed.), Illuminations (pp. 253–264). New York: Schocken Books. Benjamin, W. (1999). The Arcades project (H. Eiland & K. McLaughlin, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press/Harvard University Press. Burke, C. (2005). Light: Metaphor and materiality in the history of schooling. In M.  Lawn & I. Grosvenor (Eds.), Materialities of schooling. Design, technology, objects, routines (pp. 125– 141). Oxford.: Symposium Books. Burke, C. (2013a). The decorated school: Cross-disciplinary research in the history of art as integral to the design of educational environments. Paedagogica Historica, 49(6), 813–827. Burke, C. (2013b). A life in education and architecture. Mary Beaumont Medd. Surrey: Ashgate Publ. Ltd.. Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2008). School. London: Reaktion Books. Burkhalter, G. (2016). The playground project. In X. Salle and others (Eds.), The playground project (pp. 10–48). Zurich: JRP Ringier Kunstverlag AG. Chateau, D., & Mouré, J. (Eds.). (2016). Screens. From materiality to spectatorship – A historical and theoretical reassessment. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. da Barra, V. M. L. (2016). Da pedra ao pó. O itinerário da lousa na escolar pública paulista do século XIX [From stone to dust: The itinerary of the blackboard in Sao Paulo’s public schools in the 19th century]. Goiânia: Gráfica UFG. Darian-Smith, K., & Willis, J. (Eds.). (2017). Designing schools. Space, place, and pedagogy. London: Routledge. de Laet, M., & Mol, A. (2000). The Zimbabwe Bush Pump: Mechanics of a fluid technology. Social Studies of Science, 30, 225–263. di Robilant, M., Maak, N., Koolhaas, R., & Boom, I. (2015). Window. Venezia: Marsilio. Dussel, I. & Caruso, M. (2000). La invención del aula. Una genealogía de las formas de enseñar [The invention of the classroom. A genealogy of the ways of teaching]. Buenos Aires: Santillana. Feldman, D. (2010). Enseñanza y escuela [Teaching and school]. Buenos Aires: Aique.

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Fisher, K., & Newton, C. (2014). Transforming the twenty-first-century campus to enhance the netgeneration student learning experience: Using evidence-based design to determine what works and why in virtual/physical teaching spaces. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(5), 903–920. Flusser, V. (1999a). The designer’s way of seeing. In Flusser (Ed.), The shape of things. A philosophy of design (A. Matthews, Trans., pp. 39–42). London: Reaktion Books. Flusser, V. (1999b). The factory. In The shape of things. A philosophy of design (A. Matthews, Trans., pp. 43–50). London: Reaktion Books. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish. The birth of the prison (A.  Sheridan, Trans.). New York: Vintage Books. Friedberg, A. (2006). The virtual window. From Alberti to Microsoft. Cambridge: The MIT Press. Halpern, O. (2014). Beautiful data. A history of vision and reason since 1945. Durham/London: Duke University Press. Hanke, M. (2014). Vilem Flusser’s philosophy of design: Sketching the outlines and mapping the sources. Flusser Studies, 21, 1–21. Hébrard, J. (1995). La leçon et l’exercice. Quelques réflexions sur l’histoire des pratiques de scolarisation. In A.  Bentolila (Ed.), Savoirs et savoir-faire. Les entretiens Nathan -Actes V (pp. 155–162). Paris: Éditions Nathan. Hunter, I. (1988). Culture and government: The emergence of literary education. Hampshire/ London: The MacMillan Press. Jenkins, H. (2007). The wow climax: Tracing the emotional impact of popular culture. New York/ London: New York University Press. Latour, B. (2005). From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik. Or how to make things public. In B. Latour, & P. Weibel (Eds.), Making things public. Atmospheres of democracy (pp. 14–43). Karlsruhe/ Cambridge, MA: ZKM/Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe/The MIT Press. Le Coeur, M. (2011). La chaire et les gradins. De la salle de classe a la salle de cours dans les lycées au XIXe siècle. Histoire de l’Éducation, 130, 85–109. Lippman, P.  C. (2002). “Practice theory, pedagogy, and the design of learning environments,” CAE Net. The Quarterly Newsletter of the Committee of Architecture for Education, 2. Available at: ashx?DocumentFileKey=c6d686b8-1265-4904-b45d-437769e426f0&forceDialog=0. Last accessed on 13 Nov 2015. Logan, C. (2017). Open shut them: Open classrooms in Australian schools, 1967–1983. In K. Darian-Smith & J. Willis (Eds.), Designing schools. Space, place, and pedagogy (pp. 83–95). London: Routledge. Lungstrum, J. W. (1999). The display window: Designs and desires of weimar consumerism. New German Critique, (76), 115–160. Masschelein, J. (2014). Making the school: Stories of caves and tables. In W.  Lambrecht, & N. Vansieleghem (Eds.), Old school/Nieuwe Klas (43–53). Ghent: LUCA School for the Arts. Masschelein, J., & Simons, M. (2013). In defence of the school. A public issue (J.  McMartin, Trans.). Leuven: Education, Culture and Society Publishers KU Leuven. McGuirk, J. (2014). Radical cities: Across Latin America in search of a new architecture. New York: Verso. Nespor, J. (2000). Tangled up in school: Politics, space, bodies, and signs in the educational process. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Rudd, T., Gifford, C., Morrison, J., & Facer, K. (2006). What if …? Reimagining learning spaces. Bristol: Futurelab. Sarmiento, D. F. (2001). “La pizarra (El Monitor, 15 de enero de 1853),” [The blackboard]. In Obras Completas. Tomo XXVIII.  Ideas pedagógicas [Complete works. Vol 28: Pedagogical ideas]. Buenos Aires: Editorial Universidad de la Matanza. Sobe, N.  W. (2006). Embodied knowledge and the nation: The school field trip. In I.  Epstein (Ed.), Recapturing the personal: Education. Embodied knowledge and comparative inquiry (pp. 143–162). Greenwich: Information Age Publishing.


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Tondeur, J., & others. (2015). The physical placement of classroom technology and its influences on educational practices. Cambridge Journal of Education, 45(4), 537–556. 1080/0305764X.2014.998624. Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together. Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books. van den Driessche, M. (2009). Architecture of the educational complex in the Belgian context. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University Ghent. van Dijck, J. (2013). The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Willis, J. (2017). Architecture and the school in the twentieth century. In K.  Darian-Smith & J. Willis (Eds.), Designing schools. Space, place, and pedagogy (pp. 1–8). London: Routledge. Yates, L. (2012). My School, My University, My Country, My World, My Google, Myself… What is education for now? Australian Educational Researcher, 39, 259–274.

Chapter 10

Governing Education Through The Future Keri Facer

Abstract  This chapter discusses the role of ideas of the future in educational governance by design. It focuses in particular on the way that unsustainable, unsubstantiated and technologically romantic ideas of the future informed the UK government’s Building Schools for the Future programme and the implications of this for the eventual design and lived reality of these new schools. It then proposes an alternative ‘anticipatory’ role for schools that works with a more ethical, nuanced and robust orientation to the future. It argues that schools can be recognised as playing four important roles in relation to the future: stewardship, modelling, critique and experimentation. These four roles, the chapter concludes by arguing, generate a new orientation to educational governance and to school design.

Introduction School buildings, as this book has clearly demonstrated, are central to the governance of education. Their design regulates bodies, movement, interaction and expectations of what might or might not be possible in these sorts of spaces. But what governs the design of school buildings? What shapes the educational imagination that specifies the size of classrooms, the expectations of how many students will be in these spaces, the assumptions about the school’s role in relation to community and the presence or absence of computer suites? In this chapter, I want to argue that ideas of ‘the future’ are central to the educational imagination that shapes building design. A building, after all, is what de Jouvenel called a little ‘jetty into the future’. It is a material intervention in the present that is intended to last beyond the moment, to sustain into another time that is not now. School buildings are therefore doubly entangled in the ongoing dialogue between education and the future  – they are both imagined as mechanisms for K. Facer (*) School of Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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g­ overning education and the individual and social futures that will emerge from that educational practice; and they are also intended, in themselves, to continue as material actors in those futures. Nowhere was this idea of school buildings as material actors in social futures more evident than in the UK’s (2003–2010) Building Schools for the Future programme where schools were envisaged not merely as educational institutions but were to stand as highly visible signifiers of the role of knowledge and learning in the transformation of local communities to a future knowledge economy (Kraftl 2012). In this chapter, then, I want to explore the relationship between ideas of the future and the educational and architectural imagination that underpins school building design, with a particular focus on the example of the UK’s Building Schools for the Future programme. In doing so, I want to highlight the limits of contemporary approaches to using the future in educational governance and explore, instead, what it might mean to take the complexity of ‘the future’ seriously in the design of educational buildings.

Building Schools for Which Futures? The Building Schools for the Future programme was one of the UK New Labour Government’s flagship policies at the turn of the millennium. A £45bn initiative intended to run over 15 years and restore over 300 of the UK’s schools, this massive programme was presented as nothing less than a transformative intervention into the educational and social life of the country. As Kraftl argues, this manifestation of government policy in buildings was ‘an attempt to literally and figuratively concretise the promise of national-scale dreams of transformation’ (Kraftl 2012, p. 855). How the bricks and mortar intervention would actually lead to this broader social transformation, however, remained unclear. As Kraftl goes on to argue, there was a significant gap between the present realities of schools and communities and the future transformation that was proclaimed. And indeed, this vagueness about the path between today and tomorrow both ‘provided room for other, increasingly controversial processes – not least the funding of public building work via private business finance (PFI)’ (Kraftl 2012) – and made local authorities, school students and schools themselves, increasingly responsible for, although poorly equipped to influence, the outcomes of the investment. Critically, Kraftl argues, the BSF programme was a moment at which ‘dreaming about the future became politically acceptable’ (Kraftl 2012, p. 855). Responsibility for translating these dreams for the future into school building design fell to Local Education Partnerships – comprised variously of private sector companies, school representatives, local authorities and others. The national guidance for school design ranged from highly detailed instructions on classroom specifications in the infamous BB98 document to a suite of ‘inspirational’ classroom designs developed as pilots to encourage schools to think differently. Into this morass of specification and inspiration that filled the gap between the present and future transformation entered

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a number of new social actors  – think tanks, research labs, commercial research agencies and consultancies  – all seeking to promote particular visions of educational futures and to ‘help’ local education partnerships to make decisions. At that time, I was Research Director for a small organisation called FutureLab, a hybrid think tank/research lab funded primarily from the Department for Education and established through the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), a New Labour initiative set up to promote innovation through dialogue across different sectors. FutureLab, alongside more established research labs such as Ultralab at the University of East Anglia and the think tank Demos and Microsoft’s international Partners in Learning Team, entered the BSF arena with some enthusiasm seeking to use the BSF programme as an opportunity to rethink educational assumptions. This is equivalent to the Brookings Institute, the Centre for Digital Media and Learning at Stanford and the Ganz Cooney Centre in New York all getting involved in a national buildings programme. These different actors often found themselves coming together at national events – from the BETT show (the annual technology/suppliers show) to collaborations around particular consultancy activities, sometimes forming formal partnerships, other times informal coalitions to collectively inform political agendas and at times actively disagreeing and competing for both influence and resource. Notably, the Kent Local Education Partnership developed a detailed outline of what Building Schools for the Future might look like on the ground by bringing together both Microsoft and Stephen Heppell (formerly Ultralab Director) and through informal conversations with FutureLab. These actors were working with different analyses of contemporary issues and possible futures. FutureLab and Ultralab drew on a combination of traditions of progressive alternative education (from Ivan Illich and Colin Ward) and constructivist visions of self-directed, technology-enhanced learning (from Seymour Papert, Negroponte et al.). Demos, in contrast, were concerned primarily with a wider public services transformation in which education, health and other services would be increasingly ‘personalised’ and guided by the interests, needs and trajectories of individual citizens rather than offering a standardised ‘one size fits all’ approach; while Microsoft were positioning themselves as a significant education actor in the UK, looking to use the BSF programme as a global shop window for the wide-scale adoption of ICT in education. These ideas were being discussed in the context of a wider educational reform agenda that saw the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (the national policy body responsible for setting the National Curriculum for schools) framing curriculum around a set of twenty-first-century skills and competencies as well as national pedagogic and curriculum experiments being led by the Innovation Unit (a department set up by the Labour Government to facilitate innovation in education) and the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (a centuries old membership organisation) around cross-curricular teaching, ‘real-world’ learning and core competencies. In this heady context, and with the support of £45bn worth of planned investment, it was hard not to agree with the claim in Kent’s BSF document that ‘Within 10 years the nature of schools and learning will be fundamentally different from today’ (Kent/BSF 2004).


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When we today unpick the sorts of futures envisaged and on offer in these documents, however, it is clear that these processes were suffering from a profoundly impoverished and poorly articulated set of assumptions about ‘the future’ for which these schools were being imagined and built. Not only were the school designs being constrained from the outset by national standards that prespecified the existence, size and purpose of classrooms, but they were also typically shaped by a set of international standard architectural tropes that were pulled off the shelves in the initial stages of planning before any consultation was conducted (Besten et  al. 2011). These standards precluded radical or imaginative thinking about questions such as whether schools themselves continued to be the best place to educate young people, about the composition of teachers and students in schools, about the relationship between face-to-face and online interactions and about the relationship between educational, social and economic inequalities. Moreover, the design process was dominated by a single orthodox view of the future economic landscape and education’s purpose within it. As the Microsoft/Kent County Council document proclaimed, without blushing: The world is flat – the context is a globalised economy: The fundamental aim of the BSF investment is dramatic improvement of learning and achievement to secure our future in the global, post-industrial, knowledge age economy. (Kent/BSF 2004, p. 2)

What is clear when we look at the work of this period is that the fundamental ontological fact about the future – its potential for generating novelty – was only rhetorically invoked in these documents with a broad nod to ‘uncertainty’. Indeed, what characterised the discourses of the future that shaped BSF initiatives was, as with much political and public discourse of the period (Webster 1995), the idea of the future as a radical economic transformation from an ‘industrial’ age to an ‘information age’. Consider, for example, the assumption of entry into a radically different era in the following statement from the Kent/BSF plan: The industrial age model is recognisable in phrases that imply uniformity, such as ‘we must have a shared vision’. Our very phraseology must change. ‘Our vision must work for everyone, whatever their starting point’. (Kent/BSF 2004, p. 8)

Critical to this particular vision of the twenty-first-century future for which these schools were being imagined and designed was a new vision for ICT. Indeed, digital technologies were used throughout the programme in a talismanic role, to signal the difference between today and tomorrow. ICTs were to be the new ‘5th utility’  – transforming, according to the Kent/BSF proposals, all areas of learning. The digital was used as a proxy for transformation and as the ultimate symbol of a new age. Other futures – of environmental disruption, of the continuation of long-term trajectories of embedded inequalities, of radical demographic shifts and of changing cultural, ethnic and religious beliefs – are simply absent from the discourses framing the programme. Both Ultralab and FutureLab, as consultants and researchers working in this area, made some attempts to disrupt this monocultural and economically dogmatic account of educational futures. Ultralab’s ‘Building Learning Futures’ report, in particular, opened with an explicit account of the impact of poverty on children’s

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educational life chances and went on to identify four diverse potential future scenarios for schools which included the radical proposal that no school at all might be required (Ultralab 2004). In a related vein, FutureLab’s ‘What if… reimagining learning spaces’ report proposed learning scenarios that ranged from autonomous learning to educational institutions integrated within communities (Futurelab 2005). Such visions, however, while useful for stimulating research discussions and early-­ stage consultation, very rarely gained any traction in the programme as a whole. Moreover, these alternative visions never went so far as to fundamentally challenge the underpinning economic assumptions of the dominant ideas of the future in the programme. Rather they relied on the idea that the widespread use of creative digital technologies might support student empowerment in a way that would radically disrupt the practices of schooling. In the 10 years that have passed since this heady period, the shortcomings of the myopic economic narrative that underpinned the BSF programme are clear: mass migration, social unrest, environmental disruption, continued economic fragility, not to mention the rise of populism and the decline of social trust all demonstrate that the idea of a shift towards a seamless global knowledge economy was profoundly (as was pointed out at the time) misguided and impoverished as a vision for educational change. At the same time, however, the limitations of the ‘alternatives’ that many of us were proposing in this period have also become clear. These alternatives, which were premised upon the idea that digital technologies should be used in school to support learner autonomy and agency, arguably achieved little more than to justify the introduction into schools of digital accounting systems that have come to both responsibilise and punish learners. The radical potential that many of us perceived at the time for a new approach to education has instead been co-opted within educational processes that mobilise digital technologies to intensify the surveillance and capture of individual learners within ever more narrowly defined curricula and educational goals. Indeed, Livingstone and Sefton-Green’s (2016) ethnography of student experiences in contemporary classrooms documents how today at least ten data entry points are captured about each child in school every day, how a language of highly competitive individual comparison has become commonplace in classrooms and how the language of education has been colonised by the language of measurement and metrics. On this basis, it is tempting to conjecture that the so-called ‘alternative’ future visions that many of us sought to use to mitigate the narrow perspectives of the BSF debate did little other than to offer an acceptable ‘cover’ for the wholesale reduction of education to technocentric preparation for employment. Consider the ‘Learning Gateway’ in Kent, for example, that was a central part of the wider Kent vision for a transformation towards a personalised learning experience for all students, offering opportunities for students to access information, tailor resources and shape their learning environment around them (Kent/BSF 2004). Today it is now clearly reduced to a means of student documentation and surveillance that engages parents in the process of monitoring and documenting student participation in ever more authorised learning activities in the home. Rather than


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supporting a brave new world of collaboration and empowerment, these technologies have been appropriated to capture young people ever more tightly in a net of education practices that promote constant surveillance, competition, individualisation and privatisation. Those of us who thought to use the discourses of transformational change and technology enabled futures to open up, critique and disrupt the dominant discourses of education were arguably no more than useful idiots in a process that has served to more effectively and efficiently capture education within the discourses of managerial control. Indeed, as has been discussed elsewhere (Facer 2012; Lupton and Williamson 2017), the introduction of digital technologies has in the main served to support the ongoing reframing of educational governance as a process of systematic intervention in the data profiles of individuals and groups of children.

Working Differently with the Future in Educational Design What lessons might be learned from these experiences about how ‘the future’ might be used differently in the educational imagination that governs school building design today?

It’s Not All About Technology Writing at a time when issues of migration, populism, economic austerity, race hate and the break-up of Europe are top of the agenda, the framing of educational futures around technological innovation a decade ago looks both naïve and short-sighted. The futures students are living and learning within and preparing for seem, for the West at least, darker and more radically uncertain than a decade ago. At the same time, a change of government has flipped the educational agenda away from a language of twenty-first-century competencies, towards a conservative framing of education as the acquisition of core subject knowledge. When we envisage educational futures, then the key lesson is that we have to think about more than technological change – political, environmental, social and cultural factors will shape the worlds students are entering and the conditions of education. This does not mean that technological change should be ignored in seeking to envisage the sorts of educational futures for which buildings might be designed but simply that the technologies need to be recognised as being developed within and being embedded as part of the existing social and cultural contexts of schooling. If those cultures are competitive, individualised and exploitative, the technologies will be harnessed to those agendas. In and of themselves, technologies will neither liberate nor transform education. Technology cannot and will not save us. At the same time, technologies will play into and interact with a wide range of other trends – from global terror to aging populations. Technologies, therefore, cannot and must not be considered in isolation nor can they be allowed to dominate the educational imagination about the future. For every

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specialist in educational technology, the educational imagination needs to be complemented by a specialist in demographics, in cultural and social change and in environmental planning – and potentially the artists and writers who can help us to imagine that technologies such as the internet can be used both for the grooming of children to join international jihad and for children to skype grandparents across the country.

 orking with Futures in Education Requires Attention W to the Weight of History The second lesson from the BSF programme is that a set of educational futures that are dominated by techno-utopias will singularly fail to develop educational policy capable of addressing deep, structural social issues that will push against these visions. Robust educational futures work, as Ivana Milojevic argues, needs to pay attention not only to the pull of the future and the possibilities of the present but to the weight of history and to those forces and practices that create path dependencies and work to resist change (Milojevic 2005). What this means, for example, is that on the negative side, fundamental issues of economic and social inequality will not be transformed by an integrated School Information Management System. It may offer more ways of measuring and counting the differences between children; it will not offer new solutions to addressing the poverty and hardship that fundamentally underpin some of these differences. At the same time, ideas of the future can help to obscure what is valued and treasured in existing educational relationships. One reason that schools still remain, that teachers work with children and that subjects exist is not simply ‘tradition’ but the fact that there is love and passion and commitment to these places where people come together and to these practices and forms of knowledge that people have spent years working to develop. There are relations and ways of being that are treasured not simply out of inertia or nostalgia but because they exemplify and protect particular, valued, ways of being. In developing the educational imagination, therefore, as much attention needs to be paid to the weight of history – both what we are up against and what people will love and want to preserve – as to the new horizons that might be opening up.

 ducation Does Have a Relation to the Future: This Needs E to Be Understood and Articulated The third lesson from the BSF programme is that any educational futures work needs a theory of the relationship between education and the future. Without it, the educational imagination will be restricted either to impoverished techno-utopias


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that can easily be captured within lazy and often ideologically motivated accounts of possible futures. It is to this question of the relationship between education and the future that I turn next to explore in more detail.

Education and the Future The future, and how to prepare for it, is a perennial concern of education (Lewis 2006). Indeed, as I describe elsewhere (Facer 2011, 2012), educational discourse has an implicit future orientation. Politicians call for education to prepare young people for a future knowledge economy and warn that ‘nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow’ (Barack Obama). Academic publications call for alternative approaches to education in the light of impending environmental challenges or opportunities offered by new science. In the classroom, teachers ask young people what they want to be when they grow up, claiming that learning something now will help achieve something else in future. For better or worse, this discourse reflects the idea that young people are what the theorist of childhood Nick Lee calls ‘fragments of the future’. Schools are therefore seen as sites through which futures can be shaped or at least defended against. Futurity is embedded at the heart of the educational process. And our desires and fears for that future are latent in our increasingly urgent search for educational alternatives. How, then, might we think carefully about this question of ‘the future’ in education and about the desires that we project onto the educational project and onto young people about what we might want to become as societies, as humans, as a global civilisation and as an ecosystem? And what sorts of educational possibilities might be raised by placing the problem of the future at the centre of the educational imagination. In making this suggestion that we take the future seriously in education while at the same time arguing that futurity is already implicit in much educational discourse, I evidently run the risk of seeming to contradict myself. But we need to distinguish between the tacit, fantastical and often colonising invocations of the future that can characterise contemporary educational usage and intentional and reflective attempts to open up the possibilities of working with the future on a more robust basis for the educational imagination. To clear the ground for thinking about more democratic alternatives, it is worth first delineating three tendencies of the dominant future-orientation in education (see Facer 2016 for further discussion of these orientations): the first is the tendency to treat the future as a landscape for rational choice making about which optimal choices can be made. Here, the future is conceptualised as a knowable landscape against which decisions can be assessed and preferable routes identified. The educational landscape here is populated by what Margaret Archer (2012) calls ‘autonomous reflexives’, the cost-benefit analysing individuals able to make a judgement with good knowledge about the world as it is unfolding. Clearly, there are significant problems with this orientation in education. Not least the fact that there is the

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risk of marching students ever onwards towards one particular assumed future that seems like the best bet at the time, only to discover, too late, that the landscape of the future changes after all. Such an orientation reduces the redundancy built into the system for both individual and for society and offers no abundance from which to choose when other futures manifest themselves. The second orientation is one that seeks to colonise the future by claiming it for particular values, practices and ways of being. This colonial orientation seeks to persuade young people of a particular narrative of the future and recruit them to fulfilling or resisting it – whether a future of environmental chaos or endless growth. This orientation has a long tradition in education from both progressive and conservative positions. But it raises a fundamental ethical question. Should education be concerned with presenting ideas of inevitable or desirable futures (in whatever form) to young people at all. As Noel Gough argues: adults should be cautious – and confident of their moral grounds – before setting out to design curricula which, deliberately or otherwise, tamper with children’s concepts and images of futures, regardless of whether or not these concepts and images reflect, distort, confound or transcend those of adults. (Gough 1990, p. 308)

At the very least, we may need to examine the conflicts of interest that necessarily ensue when projecting our present anxieties onto children’s future lives. This is particularly important when such a projection enables adults to more easily abdicate responsibility for addressing such anxieties themselves in the present. The current pressing issues of responsibility for decarbonisation and for producing intergenerational economic justice are just two examples of such a projection. The third orientation to the future in education is the conceptualisation of education as a distinctive means of protection against unknown and hence frightening futures. This orientation is captured in HG Wells’ famous aphorism that ‘civilisation is a race between education and catastrophe’. This is the powerful fantasy that education alone will rescue us from impending disaster. Where Wells was concerned with education as the means to vanquish fascism, today the same fantasy operates in relation to economic change, globalisation, aging populations and climate change. Education is to be the means by which all ills will be solved. Knowledge can overcome power and can tame brute reality. Such a fantasy significantly overstates the capacity of educational experience and knowledge alone to produce security and wellbeing over the long term while obscuring other factors  – access to material wealth, to productive capacity or to military and judicial power – that are equally important foundations for such security and wellbeing today. Ask the protestors in Hong Kong and Turkey whether knowledge alone is enough to secure democracy in conditions of near dictatorship. Ask the nearly 38% of young graduates in the UK working in non-graduate level and precarious employment whether a degree can guarantee economic security. The risk of the unexamined adherence to this fantasy, moreover, is not just that it is wishful thinking, but that by fetishizing educational success as a means of achieving personal and social goods, it deracinates education from the divergent, conflicting forces that also contribute to creating meaningful foundations for the growth of a good society: family and home, functioning democracies, communities, econo-


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mies, technological resources and ecosystems. Such a fantasy of the unique role of education as talisman against the future may, as Jean Anyon (2005/2009) observes, militate against schools taking their place at the heart of and working alongside communities and families to actually create the better futures that are desired. Together, these three positions treat the future as something that can be known, something that should be brought into being and as something against which we need to defend ourselves. These are intentionally exaggerated and caricatured to make my point here. Nonetheless, my position is that, as a basis for imagining and creating alternative education futures, we have to think our way out of these tendencies and open up new orientations to the future that treat it as a site of radical possibility. We need a theory of education’s relationship to the future that resists easy narratives of inevitable future trajectories, that resists the desire to colonise the future by colonising children’s imagination of what will come to pass and that recognises that the good society and the good life will not be built through education alone but are fundamentally interconnected with all other aspects of social change. What would this have meant for a programme like BSF? First, it would have meant a principled resistance to the idea of there being a single knowable future for which schools could be designed  – the fantasy of the globally ‘flat’ knowledge economy. Second, it would have meant that schools were not considered as prefigurative spaces for the creation of better futures predetermined by adults but as laboratories and experimental spaces for children to explore the possibility of radical novelty. Finally, it would have started from the premise that children’s life chances cannot be dependent upon schooling alone but as being fundamentally interconnected with the long-term strength and resources of the wider community. A properly transformative educational imagination, in that case, would have to deal with both the schools and the communities in which they are located.

Schools as Laboratories for Playing with the Future I want to conclude by reflecting on what these positions mean in terms of curriculum and therefore what they might mean for the design of school buildings. If we return to the idea of schools not as spaces of preparation for knowable futures but as laboratories for bringing into being new possibilities and new futures, then we need to operate with a different set of metaphors for educational practice. Rather than thinking of a curriculum for the future, we need to imagine a ‘pedagogy of the present’ which treats the educational moment as a distinctive temporality between past and future, like an ‘ecotone’  – a biological term for a liminal space, a boundary between different states – such as an estuary, in which new beings come into existence (Facer 2016). Here, rather than an education that ‘prepares for the future’, then, the challenge is to conceive of an education that works on, makes, shapes and rethinks futures that can be brought into being. Here I would propose that an education that set out to

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achieve these aims should work to make visible the five different orientations to the future that cut across the disciplines and subject areas that we currently take for granted. These are: First, the modelling orientation. Here schools would encourage students to notice all the subjects and practices that allow them to conceive models of the future. This might be mathematical modelling or science fiction or forum theatre. The common feature of these practices in is their capacity to support the imagination to play with variables, to examine and engender unintended consequences from their interactions and to explore how different scenarios might come into being. Here we might cluster elements of the arts, mathematics and sciences. Second, the stewardship element. Here children would be encouraged to explore how different subjects actively facilitate, care for and preserve diversity. Here children would be encouraged to explore how such subjects allow societies and individuals to keep in play the huge range of ideas, languages and ways of knowing and being that characterise the richness of human and material existence. Critically, working on the future through stewardship is about keeping the breadth and diversity of resources for human knowledge open as resources for the wide range of potential futures that might emerge. Here we might cluster the humanities but also those elements of the sciences that encourage the real close attention to the diversity of life. Third, schools would work to promote reflexivity across the curriculum. Here schools would be building students’ capacity to analyse, unpick and challenge narratives of the future promoted by others. Here might be included the linguistic and rhetorical skills to decode ideological accounts of the future as well as the technical skills to interrogate the models and ideas of the future that they and others are creating. Here we might include everything from linguistics to social sciences to statistics. Fourth, disciplinarity. Disciplines came into being in the eighteenth century precisely to deal with the problem of new information and to help make sense at a time of radical increase of information and knowledge and of the ever-proliferating new ideas that were being presented (Wellmon 2015). Disciplines, therefore, can be understood not as inert bodies of knowledge but as distinct traditions that offer a set of future-oriented rules for judging how and on what basis new information should be judged and accepted (Stenhouse 1975). Here schools would draw students’ attention to the different rules, expectations, assumptions and ideas inherent in different disciplinary traditions, to the ways in which knowledge is validated and judged in each discipline and to the ways they help to make sense of new information. Finally, experimentation. Here schools would be creating conditions in which students can actively seek to invent and make their own futures. This might range from the design of prototypes to the development of social innovations to the creation of political projects. Here we might include subjects from design and engineering, to computing and to social sciences. These five practices  – modelling, stewardship, reflexivity, disciplinarity and experimentation  – would constitute more robust foundations for an educational imagination that seeks to take the future seriously. Underpinning all of them is a


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realisation that the relationship between past, present and the future is non-linear; ideas of the future act on the present and reshape our understanding of history just as the past has resonances far into the future. Together, there is a conception of the school as precisely a distinctive temporality that exceeds the reductive linear narratives of politicians and futurologists and instead recognises the educational space as having its own logic and relationship to time: a generative one. Such a framing of education’s relationship to the future might manifest itself in radically reconfigured spaces – a new clustering of subjects around these five practices, for example, and the creation of dedicated space, probably distributed within communities, that is oriented towards experimentation in the world. As I have suggested elsewhere (Facer 2011), it may be that the school museum, farm or zoo makes a return in a school committed to working with the past as a route towards stewarding the future. Zoos, farms and museums offer, after all, real opportunities for students to work with and understand the abundance and diversity of the natural and cultural worlds (Farm to School n.d; Williams and McCarthy 1985; d’Aquisto 2005). Alternatively, such a reframing might more plausibly be achieved through curricular rather than physical and material redesign and through changes to the temporal order of schooling rather than the spatial order. It might manifest itself in projects and partnerships connecting different subjects, in collaborations and cross-­ curricular activity and in the creation of project-based work. As I mentioned earlier, after all, subjects are part of the weight of history that we are working with in education – they frame the ways in which we recruit and train teachers, and they are at the heart of the mythology of what education is. Both love and inertia are likely to see subjects remain central to school design even if schools reconfigure themselves as laboratories for the future. What might manifest itself more clearly in this reframing of education’s relation to the future are the points of connection across subjects and between schools and the world outside their walls. Such points of connection, in turn, open up the possibility of changing socio-spatial practices to enable and enhance conversation, connection and collaboration.

Conclusion It is impossible to avoid ideas of the future in the design of school buildings. They saturate assumptions about what children need to learn and about the role that buildings will come to play. Too often, however, these ideas of the future fail to recognise that education itself has a distinctive temporality, that education is a place that generates futures rather than simply working towards them and that education is a time that puts past and future into dialogue rather than simply handing down past knowledge to a future generation (Masschelein and Simons 2011; Osberg 2010). This perspective encourages an educational imagination that moves beyond the anxious search for foresight in order to make a frenzied best guess about what sorts of facilities and resources will be important. Instead, it encourages a genuine confidence in the purpose and role of schooling that will sustain beyond the fads of government

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initiatives, namely, the school as a laboratory for imagining and creating social futures. This is necessarily an expansive role; it implies an openness to abundance and to change. Should such an educational imagination govern the design of school buildings, it would lead to an open, generative restlessness, to porous boundaries and to the refiguring of the social as the site of schooling and the institution as a site of reflection.

References Anderson, B. (2010). Preemption, precaution, preparedness: Anticipatory action and future geographies. Progress in Human Geography, 34, 777–798. Anyon, J. (2005). Radical possibilities: Public policy, urban education and a new social movement. New York: Routledge. Anyon, J. (2009). What is to be done? Toward a rationale for social movement building. In H. Svi Shapiro (Ed.), Education and hope in troubled times: Visions of change for our children’s world (pp. 47–62). London: Routledge. Archer, M (2012) The Reflexive Imperative in Late Modernity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Besten, O., et al. (2011). Claiming events of school (re)design: Materialising the promise of building schools for the future. Social & Cultural Geography, 12(01), 9–26. d’Aquisto, L. (2005). Learning on display: Student created museums that build understanding. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Facer, K. (2011). Learning futures: Education, technology and social change. London: Routledge. Facer, K. (2012). Personal, relational and beautiful: Education, technologies and John Macmurray’s philosophy. Oxford Review of Education, 38(6), 709–725. Facer, K. (2013). The problem of the future and the possibilities of the present in educational research. International Journal of Educational Research, 61, 135–143. Facer, K. (2016). Using the future in education: Creating space for openness, hope and novelty. In H. Lees & N. Noddings (Eds.), Handbook of alternative education. New York: Macmillan. Farm to School Network. (n.d.) The benefits of farm to school. Resources/BenefitsFactSheet.pdf FutureLab. (2005). What If… reimagining learning spaces. Bristol: FutureLab. Gough, N. (1990). Futures in Australian education: Tacit, token and taken-for-granted. Futures, 22, 298–310. Kent/BSF. (2004) Building schools for the future. White Paper. Kraftl, P. (2012). Utopian promise or burdensome responsibility? A critical analysis of the UK government’s building schools for the future policy. Antipode, 44(3), 847–870. Lewis, T. (2006). Utopia and education in critical theory. Policy Futures in Education, 4, 6–17. Livingstone, S., & Sefton-Green, J.  (2016). The class: Living and learning in the digital age. New York: Macarthur Foundation. Lupton, D., & Williamson, B. (2017). The datafied child: The dataveillance of children and implications for their rights. New Media and Society, 19(5), 780–794. Masschelein, J., & Simons, M. (2011). Experimentum scholae: The world once more … but not (yet) finished! Studies in Philosophy of Education, 30, 529–535. Milojevic, I. (2005). Educational futures: Dominant and contesting visions. London: Routledge. Osberg, D. (2010). Taking care of the future? The complex responsibility of education and politics. In D. Osberg & G. Biesta (Eds.), Complexity theory and the politics of education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.


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Stenhouse, L. (1975). An introduction to curriculum Research and Development. London: Heinemann. Ultralab. (2004). Building learning futures. Norwich: University of East Anglia. Webster, F. (1995). Theories of the information society. London: Routledge. Wellmon, C. (2015). Organizing enlightenment: Information overload and the invention of the modern research university. Washington, DC: Johns Hopkins University Press. Williams, D., & McCarthy, D. (1985). Student benefits from school farm activities. Journal of the American Association of Teacher Educators in Agriculture, 26(2), 16–23.

Part IV


Chapter 11

Thinking About Architecture and Governance: A Postscript Ning de Coninck-Smith

Abstract  The chapter provides reflections based on my personal experiences of working with the history of children’s architecture and from my readings of the contributions to the volume Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance. Along the way, I raise questions about the role of design in making school(s), I am speculating about the role power, class, ethnicity and gender hold and I am suggesting the need for more fieldwork and to strengthen the focus on processes with all their un-predictedness, conflicts and criss-cross entaglements rather on the (final) disciplinarian and civilizing result. When I began reading the chapters in the edited volume Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, I was on a month-long sabbatical in Paris, living in a second floor apartment in the oldest part of town, the Marais district. I could not see the street from my desk, but I could certainly hear it. Early in the morning, the dustmen would arrive, pushing bins around; a little later, the water car would follow and the street sweeper with his brush and then cars, motorcycles, ambulances, fire engines, busses and pedestrians. In the early evening, new sounds marked new rhythms: dustmen pushing different bins around, the sound of skateboards against tarmac and the voices of the homeless couple, lying under their blankets. Sounds returning, merging, being drowned out or stopping marked the rhythm of the street and fed my imagination. One day, the soundscape changed. A new sound reached my ears; at first, I thought it was birds but soon realized that it was a group of schoolchildren, led by their teachers. The sound of the children came from the left and disappeared from earshot to the right, while the majority of other movements and sounds travelled in the opposite direction, since it was a one-way street. They did not carry school bags or wear heavy overcoats, despite it being the middle of November. They just walked by, passing the mattresses and blankets of the homeless couple, some chatting with a friend, others N. de Coninck-Smith (*) School of Education, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 I. Grosvenor, L. Rosén Rasmussen (eds.), Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance, Educational Governance Research 9,



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with a book under their arm and others running behind. About an hour later, they returned. It did not make sense: schoolchildren should be at school, not out in the street. My reaction led to curiosity: what were they doing; why this circular movement against the linearity and rhythm of the street? The explanation was simple: they were going out for lunch, as many Parisians do. The only difference, they were not eating at a bistro, but at a school canteen, which they shared with a local high school. The reasons for this arrangement did not become clear to me during my stay. I did not really know how to frame my question without the situation becoming embarrassing, and I was more occupied with my reaction than the reasons for the arrangement. Being a historian of education and childhood who has written about the so-called schoolarization and subsequent institutionalization of childhood which has taken place in my own welfare society over the past 300 years, it shocked me how naturalized children’s disappearance from public space during the daytime had become to me (Gutman 2008). And this despite the fact that, as a child of the 1950s, I remembered a time when things were different: when children did not go to kindergarten, young children were not in day care, most students left school after seventh grade and playing in the street was a favourite pastime all year round. Even though one should be careful not to overstate the role of architecture, the design and construction of spaces for children plays a prominent role in this dramatic changing of children’s lives. Schools and the family home set the agenda for the emergence of waves of institutions, designed to address shifting notions of children and their needs: children’s hospitals, orphanages, summer camps, children’s libraries, children’s art centres, kindergartens, playgrounds and after-school recreational facilities (de Coninck-Smith 2010a, b; Coninck-Smith and Bygholm 2011). It was not, however, only children’s public spaces that changed. Rising incomes, fewer children and new expectations regarding private space made it possible for most parents in the West to reserve and decorate spaces for their children within the home. From the 1930s onwards, experts informed parents of the importance of play and of making space – quite literally – for their children to play. Porcelain dolls and mechanical toys limited play; playing on the floor was liberating. Central heating and bigger family homes made this possible, and wooden toys, building blocks and small tables and chairs entered the play space of the post-World War II creative child (Ogata 2013). More recently, IKEA has become a parent’s best friend in designing the ideal late-modern child space as homely and entertaining and as a learning space. However, one might ask, what about schools, the issue at the centre of Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance? What are the links between school design and these other spaces designed for children? Are new schools like a public children’s corner, linking learning with homeliness and entertainment? Or are they designed in accordance with a “legacy” of civilizing and disciplining children? More fundamentally, what is the role of architecture and design when “making” schools? The answer to this question is not easy, and proof or evidence is difficult to find. There are so many interconnecting, criss-crossing, and conflicting processes that make up a school, so how can the role of design be isolated? One way of going about answering this question could be to move the gaze from design as a product to design as process, with a focus on making, creativity and agency. This is exactly what the editors and contributors to this volume have in mind (Chap. 1, this volume).

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Complexities As always, a historical perspective qualifies the discussion; contemporary debates about school architecture are not so new. So much effort, money and thought has already been put into designing spaces for children, going back to the sixteenth century, at least, when the Swedish church, according to Björn Norlin, took an interest in schoolboys’ play (Chap. 2, this volume). It has led to the rise of new professions, such as school hygienists, to specializations within architecture, engineering and design, to the publication of journals and books, to conferences, models, plans, laws and circulars. It is big business – and, since the 1980s, it is an area that has attracted a lot of interest from various scientific fields. Historians have stood on the shoulders of Michel Foucault in describing the discourses and disciplinary effects of the many urban schools, closely linked to industrialization, social unrest and the rise of the nation state (Marcus 1993 and Eggermont 2001), while others have stressed the link between school architecture, democracy and the second wave of industrialization after the World War II (Ogata 2013). Sociologists and ethnographers have used a new materialist approach to analyse how schools work, paving the way for discussions about the link between educational ideas and practice and architectural design. Historians have been inspired to follow their lead (de Coninck-Smith 2016). A biographical and network-oriented approach has more recently come to the forefront, stressing the many connections between European and Anglo-Saxon architects (de Coninck-Smith 2010a, b; Burke 2013). The transnational turn within educational history (Bagchi et al. 2014) has resulted in a new interest in the role played by major international organizations, like OECD, UNESCO and the World Bank, and in how architecture and school equipment became a container of post-­ colonial hopes for the future and objects of cultural encounters, compromises and conflicts after World War II (Uduku 2017; De Raedt 2014).

Making Sense of Design While the majority of the existing research on the history of school design applies a one-dimensional and essentialist understanding of the role of architecture in shaping people, the introduction to this volume set a different agenda (Chap. 1). The editors wish to challenge this approach and have asked the contributors to help them develop a different understanding, which can grasp the complexities related to processes and the multiplicity of agents and ways of governance. In this way, conflicts, unintentionality, paradoxes, emotions, resistances and interlaced chronologies become part of the story, shifting the focus from designing in a narrow sense to making or building in a broader sense. “Meaning is not an ideality; meaning is material”, as Karen Barad (2014, p. 175) has stated, thereby opening a Pandora’s box of sense-making, because what makes


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sense to some when building a school clearly does not make sense to others – as the accounts from the Sundsvall region in the nineteenth century and from the British Building Schools for the Future project in the early twenty-first century show (Chaps. 5, 6 and 7, this volume). Whereas some would like to spend money and hire an architect, other communities prefer to save and use local builders, and whereas some would like to involve teachers, parents and students, others find this unnecessary. After the countless Foucauldian studies of school architecture, no one questions that school buildings are designed with a purpose of governance; children need to be educated to become civilized and disciplined citizens, and, for historical reasons, schools, like churches, have been given a central role in achieving this goal. As Noah Sobe reminds us (Chap. 8, this volume), this has also included efforts to mould students’ affections and counteract their boredom and lack of concentration through carefully designed learning environments. As such, school buildings make statements about the future, as Keri Facer notes (Chap. 10, this volume). However, several of the contributions demonstrate that such statements are not always clear and that various stakeholders interpret them differently. United by a shared interest in future generations, modernist and progressive architects collaborated with the authoritarian Portuguese regime during the 1960s. Facilitated by the OECD and based on Anglo-American experiences, a series of new secondary schools were constructed under the Salazar dictatorship, despite being designed to support democratic learning processes and students’ self-­ governance. According to Gonçalo Canto Moniz, the schools and their modernist architecture seemed to play the opposite role to that envisaged by the regime, since they “helped to foster an emerging democratic culture” that would eventually lead to the 1974 revolution and the fall of the very regime that supported their construction (Chap. 3, this volume). In the past, the church, the hospital, the town hall and the family home have all been of inspiration to school builders (Willis 2016). Contemporary Western schools are not easily classified, since they come in a variety – or a mix – of designs, depending on the educational and societal messages they convey. Some might draw inspiration from the corporate, global and urban world with its headquarters, airports, cafés and opera houses. Others rely on a nostalgic dream of times gone by, when the market square and the village hall were meeting places, while others again evoke the ideals of science and laboratories. Some even adopt fancy designs directly inspired by the children’s playroom and/or the fitness centre – one of the newest schools in Copenhagen, for instance, located adjacent to the harbour, is shaped like a ferry, equipped with playhouses, tumbling mats and climbing walls. The location, close to the waterfront, provides the obvious explanation for the design. However, this is by no means a matter of course; another school, located at the opposite end of the ­former Copenhagen harbour, takes it inspiration from its location in the part of the harbour used by cargo ships. At the same time, the image of school as a container of knowledge springs to mind (Websites: Skolen i Sydhavnen, Copenhagen International School).

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The boundaries between public and private space are being redefined in contemporary Danish school architecture, where porosity and hybridity dominate, emphasized by the widespread use of glass, stairs and mixed functions. In Copenhagen, schools are currently being (re)built as cultural centres, inviting the local community inside at ground level with sport halls and rooms available for meetings or evening classes. Behind this decision, lies a wish to use the new school as a cultural centre and thereby stimulate a better integration of poor families – and their children – of non-Danish ethnic decent. Rising real estate prizes and the limited availability of free construction space have forced the Copenhagen City to move away from one floor constructions and to design playgrounds on roofs and balconies (Bertelsen and Rasmussen 2018; Rasmussen 2016). The need for further research on these borders and the meaning-making processes when schools disappear into an urban landscape of entertainment, business and social and cultural diversity is evident.

Power and Partnerships In their desire to challenge classic understandings of architecture as material forms, several chapters take their inspiration from the French spatial thinker Henri Lefebvre and his distinction between the conceived, the perceived and the lived space. Even though the stress is more on the first two than on the last of these dimensions, they clearly demonstrate their connectedness. We “live” space by attributing meaning to them, as the social theorist Sue Middleton has claimed, and the meaning we find connects with legal confinements and definitions of the role of schools in society (Middleton 2014, p.11). Through a focus on the organizational aspects of making buildings, the chapters bring the analysis a step further by demonstrating how these connections are brought to life through “knotworking” and partnerships between customers and builders. Through these processes, expectations and dreams can end in disappointment, unknown possibilities may open up  – or nothing may really change. “Rather than design determining behaviour, it takes up a dynamic and fluctuating relation with the practices of occupiers resulting in a variety of outcomes”, as Harry Daniels and Hau Ming Tse write in their chapter on Design as Social Practice (Chap. 7, p. 147, this volume). The close reading of the creative processes fuels the question of who qualifies as a partner when children’s wish for indoor toilets or teachers’ dreams of a self-­ governed classroom confront the architect’s blueprints. Who holds the power when teachers demand classrooms and walls added to open plan schools because of problems with noise and difficulties in classroom management, or when schools are overheated during summer and freezing cold in winter due to the widespread use of glass? Walls, windows, doors and gates are not alone in making a school. The interior is frequently forgotten: the tables and chairs, the blackboards and all the things


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children bring to school, like personal computers, lunch boxes, stuffed toys, mobile phones and backpacks. New materialist approaches, inspired by Bruno Latour and Karen Barad, have highlighted their importance – and how they affect learning processes and the class/children/youth culture (Rosén Rasmussen 2011). The conclusions can be rather surprising. Computers and mobile phones do not necessarily connect people, as Nokia’s advertising slogan once claimed. According to Ines Dussel’s fieldwork in Argentina and Mexico, it depends on the student’s social and cultural background (Chap. 9, this volume). Students prefer to work on their own and isolate themselves from the community in poorer schools, while students in privileged schools are more likely to collaborate with one another. Her study highlights the importance of ethnographic research in understanding the difference between designing and making schools. Furthermore, it is vital to be aware of the importance of gender, class and ethnicity.

Contrasts and Transitions The enduring image after reading the volume Making Education: Material School Design and Educational Governance is one of contrasts and transitions between design and making, product and process, past and present, and between schools, students and teachers in different social and cultural locations. The paradoxical and the unintended also stand out as ingrained in school construction, as something crossing or shaking governance and practice, independent of time and space. Teachers’ wish for glass walls might curb noise and disturbance from outside the classroom, but the same walls may reflect light in an inexpedient way and result in poor acoustics. The contours of a new notion of the connections between governance and design as fluid, changing and processual arise within an interdisciplinary frame of affective methodologies, spatial and rhythmic analysis, organizational theory and new materialism, where meaning and matter are closely interconnected. The price to pay is the belief in architecture as an essential shaping force. What is gained is a more profound understanding of what is at stake and what it takes to build a school and to make it work.

References Bagchi, B., Fuchs, E., & Rousmaniere, K. (Eds.). (2014). Connecting transnational and histories of cross-cultural exchanges in education (post)colonial education. New York/Oxford: Berghahn. Barad, K. (2014). Diffracting diffraction: Cutting together-apart. Parallax, 20(3), 168–187. Bertelsen, & Rasmussen. (2018). Skoler til fremtiden. At bygge rum, der forandrer. In M. Martinussen & K. Larsen (Eds.), Materialitet og læring (pp. 187–210). København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.

11  Thinking About Architecture and Governance: A Postscript


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