28 SES 06 B, Software, Standards and School-Building Programmes
This paper explores the contrast between nationally-bounded capital investment in school-building and the more mobile, internationalising discourses of 21st century educational design to identify how the role of people was framed in England’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme and is being framed in Italy’s La Buona Scuola (LBS). To do this it takes Lascoumes and Le Galès’ approach to public policy as ‘a sociopolitical space constructed as much through techniques and instruments as through aims or content’ (2007:4).
National funding for national schools as an ‘instrument’ is one way a state can attempt to keep control of its educational provision. However, architectural and educational discourses of what constitutes effective ‘21st century learning environments’ is less amenable to direct manipulation by governments. As primarily semiotic ‘content’, images and texts representing new edu-architectural imaginaries can be pulled from servers located anywhere in the world but pushed too by the OECD (2006) and large corporations such as Fielding Nair International who evangelise the innovative learning space-speak across 42 countries and 5 continents (Gislason, 2015:104).
The paper’s overall aim is to explore how the funding of new schools contributes to the reinforcement of a national educational space but is nevertheless inflected with international, architectural styles that end up framing people in certain ways. There are three research questions: (1) How do national school-building programmes in the case of England and Italy contribute to changing the ways that the state and its schools relate? (2) How are these instruments influenced by the promotion and consumption of architectural-educational visions of 21st century schools? (3) What – and where – is the role of school teachers and other staff in these visions of the 21st century?
Theoretically, the paper uses Lascoumes and Le Galès’ (2007:4) conception of policy instrument to emphasize the work done by BSF but draws on semiotic and architectural theory to explore how certain 21st century imaginaries became realised in design with buildings as ‘semiotic objects’ (Kress, 2010:110). Fairclough’s ‘operationalization’ (2005) is key here but I also show how the urgency and necessity of policy intervention is promoted by architecture’s ‘crisis mentality’ (Cuff, 2012:390) which parallels Peck’s ‘politicized opportunities’ (original emphasis, 2011:778) and are used for ideological and political gain.
Cuff, D. (2012) ‘Introduction: Architecture’s Double-Bind’, in C. Greig Crysler et al. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory. London: SAGE. pp. 385–392. Department for Children, Schools and Families et al. (2008) An Introduction to Building Schools for the Future. [online]. Available from: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100208213524/http://www.partnershipsforschools.org.uk/documents/BSF_Guidance_Documents/BSF%20Introductory%20Guide%202008.pdf (Accessed 1 August 2016). [online]. Available from: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100208213524/http://www.partnershipsforschools.org.uk/documents/BSF_Guidance_Documents/BSF%20Introductory%20Guide%202008.pdf (Accessed 1 August 2016). Fairclough, N. (2005) Peripheral Vision: Discourse Analysis in Organization Studies: The Case for Critical Realism. Organization Studies. [Online] 26 (6), 915–939. [online]. Available from: http://oss.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0170840605054610 (Accessed 15 May 2014). Gislason, N. (2015) ‘The Open Plan High School: educational motivations and challenges’, in Pamela Woolner (ed.) School Design Together. London: Routledge. pp. 101–119. Grek, S. (2009) Governing by numbers: the PISA ‘effect’ in Europe. Journal of Education Policy. [Online] 24 (1), 23–37. [online]. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02680930802412669 (Accessed 24 October 2014). House of Commons Education and Skills Committee (2007) Sustainable Schools: Are we Building Schools for the Future? [online]. Available from: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmeduski/140/140.pdf (Accessed 10 October 2015). [online]. Available from: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmeduski/140/140.pdf (Accessed 10 October 2015). Indire (2013) Scuola Digitale: Cl@ssi 2.0, Introduzione [online]. Available from: http://www.scuola-digitale.it/classi-2-0/il-progetto/introduzione-2/ (Accessed 16 September 2016). Kress, G. (2010) Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. London: Routledge. Lascoumes, P. & Le Galès, P. (2007) Understanding public policy through its instruments - From the nature of instruments to the sociology of public policy instrumentation. Governance. [Online] 201–21. Nair, P. (2011) The Classroom Is Obsolete: It’s Time for Something New [online]. Available from: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/07/29/37nair.h30.html (Accessed 23 December 2016). OECD (2006) 21st Century Learning Environments. Peck, J. (2011) Geographies of policy: From transfer-diffusion to mobility-mutation. Progress in Human Geography. [Online] 35 (6), 773–797. [online]. Available from: http://phg.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0309132510394010 (Accessed 8 July 2016). Sen, A. (1995) Inequality Reexamined. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. The Nuffield Review (2009) Education For All: The Future of Education and Training for 14-19 Year Olds, Summary, Implications And Recommendations.
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