The symposium aimed to explore new research methodologies emerging among scholars and practitioners who are investigating the influence and impact of the constructed and designed environment of school, particularly seeking to expose its key role in expressing and shaping ideas and practice.
Papers in the symposium covered a broad range of themes from German school buildings and their architecture (Heidemarie Kemnitz, Technische Universitat Braunschweig) to ‚’object’ lessons in English classrooms (Martin Lawn, University of Edinburgh) and their grouping into four strands reflected this diversity of content and approach:
Design, production and consumption;
Use and Misuse of technologies;
Buildings, planning, design and intent;
Material cultures and the 'hidden curriculum'.
One of the interesting and unexpected elements in the symposium was the circulation of objects and social technologies across Europe, especially between the 1920s and 1950s during new school reforms. The influence of the German Bauhaus was visible in the exhibition described by Ian Grosvenor (University of Birmingham) in his paper on The value of things: promoting design in education in the 1930s England.
Marc Armitage (Playpeople) spoke about school yards, their clusters and invisible borders and about the use children make of them. He showed an example of 80 years of use of a special space in a school yard explained the effects of continuity of space and the effects on pupil’s movement and play. Catherine Burke showed the important of food in English schools arguing that ‚’What’s the most forgotten is the most familiar’. She looked at food as an emblem through which culture comes into the school.
This is clearly an important and neglected subject in the history of education. The technological changes that wall charts brought into the school room were the subject of Karl Catteew’s (University of Leuven) paper.
Jane Read (University of Surrey, Roehampton) talked about Froebel and how kindergarten pedagogy invented free play in opposition to Maria Montessori’s later attempts to use developmental steps of learning as a systematic didactic.
Joyce Goodman (King Alfred’s College Winchester) interpreted the metaphorical use of landscapes, school buidings and spaces in school brochures to isolate gendered viewpoints.
The symposium generated a wide ranging discussion from the question of formal disciplinary systems through classroom technologies to didatical organization, from free play to learning spaces that offer opportunities for varying learning and teaching types.
There were observations about democratic architecture vs. a pastoral land scape for girls. For historians it was clearly interesting to see how far material culture influences behaviour, didactics, and communication.
The symposium’s discussant, Nick Peim (University of Birmingham), gave an overview on the different concepts of containing the child and made reference to discourses on classroom choreographies (material and communicative), topography, architecture and the hidden curriculum, the power of symbols, the power of the gaze and the presence of the body.
After dealing with food, materials, spaces and gender in the symposium Sirkke Happonen (University of Helsinki) gave a paper on aspects of the body and emotion.
Other excellent papers were given by colleagues, including Ruth Watts (University of Birmingham), Helena Ribero di Castro (Fundacao para Ciencia e a Tecnologia) and Sirja Mottonen (University of Joensuu) who stressed the important influence of women in the founding of schools and in pedagogy as social sciences.
Kevin Brehony (University of Surrey, Roehampton) and Kristen Nawrotzki (University of Michigan) who offered an engaging comparative paper on Early Years Education in the 1930s UK and USA.
Kayoko Komatsu (Ryutsu Keizai University) presented a paper which challenged delegates to accpt a different chronology of classroom operations and Laura Girao (University of Lisbon) explored the constellation of connections around Portuguese pedagogic manuals.
Ingrid Menthe (Darmstadt University) and Harald Jarning (University College of Oslo) both addressed the historical problems of exploring citizenship education.
The final presentation on Saturday morning was by a research team from Lillehammer University College ( Harald Thuen, Jan Anders Diesen and Geir Haugsbakk) who engaged the audience in deliberating on the problems of researching the impact of ICT on learning arenas. The network meetings were all well organized and also well attended.
At the annual business meeting the Network agreed to organise for Crete 2004
- A joint roundtable or symposium on ‚’Visualizing Disabilities’ with network 4: Inclusive Education. Ian Grosvenor [firstname.lastname@example.org] and Richard Rose [Richard.Rose@Northampton.ac.uk] agreed to act as joint convenors.
- A symposium on Visualizing childhood and youth where different views on young people can be compared from a European perspective. Do images migrate? Did European countries share the same images about youth after the World War or after the fall of the Iron Curtain or is there still a more national culture that shapes the views on the future generation? Ulrike Mietzner (Ulrike.Mietzner(at)rz.hu.berlin.de) and Bruno Vanobbergen agreed to act as joint convenors.
Other topics were discussed and considered as possible symposiums or workshops including Regional identities vs. National identities (Nick Peim n.a.peim(at)birmingham.ac.uk), Colonialism and globalization (Cathy Burke c.burke(at)education.leeds.ac.uk) and Early Years Education (Kevin Brehony k.brehony(at)roehampton.ac.uk). The Network also agreed to look at ways of working on questions of the technology of learning in a historical context and as an everyday school problem with our colleagues from Lillehammer university, Geir Haugsbakk, Ian Anders Diesen and Harald Thuen.
As with every year since the inception of the Network in 1999 delegates were invited to dine together every evening and the Network was helped in finding venues by Professor Christine Mayer, who also organised for the group a visit to Hamburg’s school museum and a walking tour of part of the city. Finally, for EERA 2004 Helena Ribeiro de Castro from Lisbon was coopted as convenor.
Ulrike Mietzner, Frank Simon and Ian Grosvenor