Reading images of school buildings and spaces: an interdisciplinary dialogue on visual research in histories of alternative education
McLeod, J and Goad, P and Willis, J and Darian-Smith, Kate, Reading images of school buildings and spaces: an interdisciplinary dialogue on visual research in histories of alternative education, Visual Research Methods in Educational Research, Palgrave Macmillain, J Moss and B Pini (ed), Basingstoke and New York, pp. 15-35. ISBN 978-1-349-68602-5 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]
Copyright 2016 Editorial matter, introduction and selection, Julianne Moss and Barbara Pini; individual chapters, respective authors
School space is not merely a backdrop to the ‘proper’ work of schooling. The classroom or the school itself is much more than a simple container in which learning and educational experiences happen, as if indifferent to the spatial and material environment (Burke and Grosvenor 2008, p. 8). The design of schools, from classrooms and school buildings, to play areas and outdoor zones, has been integral to the history of educational provision and in conveying ideas about the purposes and ambitions of schooling. In this sense, the architecture of school buildings and the organisation of school space mediate the experience and aspirations of schooling. They shape — both hinder and enable — pedagogies and classroom dynamics as well as interactions and learning, even in the seemingly unstructured space surrounding school buildings. Acknowledging the significance of space, however, calls for more than attention to the instructional efficacy of learning environments (Leander et al. 2010). It also calls for an account of the kind of student subjectivities and dispositions the space of schooling invites and makes possible (Burke and Grosvenor 2008; Gutman and de Coninck-Smith 2008). In addition, the very look and feel of schools feed into the symbolic and reputational meaning they have in their local communities and beyond. A focus on the design of school environments underscores the significance of the visual and representational dimensions of schooling, across public and community settings as well as in the lived experience of being in school spaces — built, natural, inside, outside — for teachers, students and families.