‘ … [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 their eyes.’ (Thomas Markus, 1996)
This roundtable addresses 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. It 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 organisation to the furnishing and equipment of classrooms and from technologies of regulation to the incorporation of tools of learning.
Over the last decades, governance as a concept developed within political science has gained a growing popularity in an increased number of research fields, also within the field of educational research (Amos 2010). Recent theories on governance open up to look at governance beyond political decision-making processes and state administrative institutions (Bevir 2011). In continuation of this, the educational comparativist Karen Amos encourages to ask ‘what is governance all about’ rather than using governance as an answer (Amos, 2010, p. xvii). This roundtable aims to ask what governance by material school design is all about.
The roundtable takes its outset in the forthcoming book Making Education: Governance by Design (Rasmussen & Grosvenor, forthcoming). The anthology seeks to analyse and discuss governance through material designs from a number of theoretical and methodological approaches, in different national and international settings, and at different steps in the process of making. Highlighting material design in the study of governance becomes an entrance to explore how governance is by far a solely political and cognitive affair, but involves and takes place through bodies, senses and emotions. Moreover, the studies in the book 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 re-shaping them in everyday school life. By stressing the processual aspects of school designs, the book puts forward the notion of governance as a complex matter, stretched out in time, cutting a number of institutional levels and networks and involving a numbers of actors, ideas, practices and not least materialities.
A general presentation of the book and its core issues together with some of the authors exemplifying their approaches, answers – and further questions – will set the roundtable discussion. Concentrating on the questions of how to study and how to understand governance by design in the field of education, the roundtable brings together the unifying theme in the book’s individual studies. On this background the roundtable invites to discuss the role of material school design in past, present and future governing processes as well as how to understand, analyse and act upon the notion of governance on wishful, actual and ethical terms.
Amos, S. K. (2010). Preface. In: S. K. Amos (ed.) International Education Governance. Emerald Group Publishing Limited2 Bevir, M. (2011). Governance as Theory, Practice, and Dilemma.In: Bevir (ed.) The Sage handbook of governance. London: Sage Publications ltd. Markus, T.A. & Cameron, D. (2002). The words Between the Spaces. Buildings and Language. Routledge Rasmussen, L. & Grosvenor, I., eds. (forthcoming). Making Education. Governance by Design. Springer
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