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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P109)

School space(s)

Location Tower B, Piso 3, Room T16
Date and Start Time 18 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Michaela Nietert (Georg-August-University of Göttingen) email
Regina F. Bendix (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) email
Margaret Kraul (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) email
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Short Abstract

Schools are places of learning but also spaces (re-)shaped by their actors. The panel inquires into the construction and creation of schools as loci shaped by narrative, ritual, memory, power and emotion. It brings together research approaches and case studies of schools as social and cultural localities.

Long Abstract

Europeans spend the major part of their early life in schools, working alongside adults trained to teach them. Schools are at once places of learning and living spaces for the adolescents and teachers. Educational ideals, the making of citizens, youth culture, school architecture and discipline: these are just a few of the changing discourses concerning schools within a society.

This panel invites contributions examining schools as sites shaped and reshaped by those coming to learn and teach within them. Classrooms, school yards, the teachers' room, corridors, the library and cafeteria provide physical structures within which school life unfolds. Beyond the power inherent to the concrete space, the panel inquires into how actors seek to make it their own place. What processes are at work (or are hindered?) within the constantly recomposing membership of a school with new cohorts entering whilst others graduate? How do actors' interaction, negotiation and imagination contribute to the shaping of school cultures? How do different sets of actors seek to emplace and make visible or graspable their position in school life? Are there narratives connected to specific sites within a school and how do they encode internal school imaginaries and power relations; how do they differ from outside reflections and reputations of a school? How do actors participate in and construct their school's history, both orally and through material culture?

We are inviting presentations of ethnographically based case studies, as well as papers reflecting methodological approaches suitable for working with both school actors and their organisational settings.

Chair: Regina Bendix, Catharina Keßler, Margret Kraul, MIchaela Nietert

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Reconstructing symbolic language after the "forced silence": denominational school spaces in Hungary

Author: Kinga Povedák (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)  email
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Short Abstract

I investigate two denominational schools located in Szeged (Hungary). Both schools had to reorganize themselves after a 40 year-long "forced silence". I analyze the transforming symbolic language of school spaces during the reorganizing and "self-reinterpreting" process.

Long Abstract

In socialist Hungary most (6000) denominational institutions were closed in 1949 leaving only 8 Catholic high schools operating in the country. The communist regime had a significant effect on people's attitude towards religiosity, on the churches' self-image, "social language" and representation as well. Following the political changes in 1989 there was a possibility to reorganize denominational schools. In my paper I aim to analyze the symbolic process of reinventing and reorganizing two schools after a 40 year-long "forced silence" in Szeged.

The situation of the Karolina School of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (originally established in 1872) and the Szeged Piarist School (1720) greatly differs. Both had long traditions in Szeged but there is a great dissimilarity in their architecture and symbolic language. Karolina was reorganized in its original but enlarged building in the most traditional and conservative district of Szeged, while the Piarist School had their school built in the suburban area next to a hypermarket.

In my presentation I investigate how the schools reinterpret themselves through symbols. I mainly look at and analyze the visible material culture and the use of space. How the "profane" places or spaces gain sacred content during rituals? How traditional norms and values are continuously negotiated by the Sisters and Piarist fathers? How the school spaces, rooms, corridors and community places are shaped in order to convene these ideas? To what extent are the "modern" symbols considered to be the "new language" and strategies of the Catholic Church shaped to fit the needs and circumstances of our present day?

Of appropriations and visions: school culture and its shaping in space

Authors: Michaela Nietert (Georg-August-University of Göttingen)  email
Catharina Kessler (Georg-August-University Goettingen)  email
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Short Abstract

The shaping of space in a school is closely intertwined with the idiosyncratic culture prevalent at the given school. The paper examines this intertwining drawing on empirical research at a German Gymnasium. Everyday social, spatial and material experiential phenomena will serve as backdrop to the specific case of negotiating the building of a new cafeteria.

Long Abstract

Educational practice in Germany increasingly focuses on school not simply as a space of learning but also as a living space. This ideological shift contains various conceptions and aspirations about the material contours of a "good school." The paper draws from an ethnographic study of a German Gymnasium. It focuses on the shaping of school space from a series of perspectives. The everyday practice of moving, working and living within school space can be captured in both official and inofficial scenarios: graffiti scribbled on a bathroom door is as much part of it as the arrangement of chairs in the teachers lounge or the presentation of school rooms during the "open door day" for prospective students and their parents. On the backdrop of such everday spatial agency, the paper will seek to establish this school cultural self-conception with the example of the school's planning for a new cafeteria. Actors involved in planning for this new space divulge their spatial ideals and visions in the process of negotiation. This allows the ethnographer to render graspable the material and social-spatial characteristics typical of the specific organizational culture of this particular school.

Shared space - divided space: bicultural schools of Lusatia/Germany from hybridological perspective

Authors: Fabian Jacobs (Sorbian Institute)  email
Elka Tschernokoshewa (Sorbian Institute)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper focuses on social and spatial structures of bicultural schools (German-Sorbian) in the Lusatia region. It analyses how the narrative and structural siting of biculturalism is linked to a specific understanding of space oscillating between sharing and dividing the cultural diversity.

Long Abstract

In Lusatia different bicultural schools exist where the "Sorbian share" varies from courses on the Sorbian minority language and bilingual teaching up to the naming of the school as "Sorbian" or "Sorbian-German" one. Where in parts of the region the Sorbian share refers to some continuity, in other parts only with interrupts and after revitalization programs new bicultural school settings emerged. Next to recent developments of new forms of bilingual teaching also cultural events or the opening of new spaces like cultural clubs right up to the conception and construction of new school complexes are intimately connected with negotiations of biculturalism.

Using a hybridological perspective with a diversity-aware focus on the dialogicity and processuality of intercultural encounters the paper wants to show on the one hand how biculturalism in the region is reflected in the architecture and in the spatial arrangements inside the schools. On the other hand it will examine how this spatial negotiating of the Sorbian share inside the institutions is linked to a specific understanding of space and cultural diversity by the actors oscillating between clear spatial divisions of cultural homogenous sectors and hybrid overlappings and interferences. This observation is part of the general debate on the institution school: from the participating persons (teachers, pupils, administrators) over to curriculums, up until the whole corporate identity of the schools.

The empirical research concerns the German-Sorbian example, but can as well serve for the current discussions about interculturality/transculturality at schools in Germany and Europe.

Learning to imagine places through play in outdoor spaces: a case study of the use of mobile recording devices in ethnographic educational research

Authors: Susan Jane Waite (University of Plymouth)  email
Nikki Spalding (University of Plymouth)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper considers how children negotiate outdoor school space(s), including the significance of imagining, meaning-making and play in co-constructing ‘place’. Particular attention is given to the use of innovative methodologies within school ethnographies in exploring experiential pedagogies.

Long Abstract

In conceptualising schools as social and cultural loci, it is vital that we move beyond the classroom and the built environment in order to consider outdoor spaces, the peripheries of the playground - the inbetween spaces that belong to children. Moreover, we need to understand how these everyday spaces transform into extraordinary places in the eyes of the child, as well as why this is significant within a wider context of experiential outdoor learning experiences and related pedagogies. This is especially important in light of the decline in use of the outdoors between pre-school and primary school practice, particularly in the UK.

Seeking to understand the phenomenon of free-choice and play-based learning experiences from the child's viewpoint involves challenging methodological and theoretical issues, some of which are outlined in this paper. Our research utilises a number of qualitative methods designed to explore children's and adult's thinking and practices, including innovative mobile methods of collecting data. Mobile recording devices (audio recorders placed in small felt bags and headcams) were worn intermittently during outdoor activities by target children (aged 4-6) from two primary schools in the South West of England, over the course of two academic years. This rich data set is triangulated with observational data and interviews with target children, teachers and head teachers.

This paper critically examines the ways in which 'place' is constructed and negotiated through the imaginations and interactions of children, whilst offering reflections regarding the benefits and pitfalls of the chosen methodology.

Creating and recreating place at an educational summer camp

Author: Monica Foote (Indiana University)  email
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Short Abstract

At an educational summer camp, the shifting population builds itself different camp cultures from session to session. Participants bring their home cultures in with them and leave traces behind, continuing to influence the camp culture after they have left.

Long Abstract

This paper explores how an educational summer camp's culture is influenced both by the culture that participants bring with them from outside and by traces left in the physical environment by previous participants.

I examine the case of a language-immersion summer camp where students receive both formal and informal instruction in French language and culture. With its educational goals, the camp functions much like a school with both students and educators in residence. The camp's shifting population dramatically affects the experience of camp life. The single site at which the camp is held becomes a different place from session to session and summer to summer because of what the individual participants bring along in terms of expectations, cultural competencies, and personalities. The very character of the camp's 'French' language and culture depends on that summer's proportions of American, French, Québecois and West African staff. Although the camp ostensibly represents French culture, the home places that participants bring with them form the building blocks from which the camp's culture is built and rebuilt.

Participants also mark the camp's physical environment. Traditions of painting benches and murals, either to mark specific moments or simply to leave traces of one's presence behind, create contact points between different iterations of the camp's population. In this way, participants use the physical site to extend their influence over the camp in time, leaving artistic messages in bottles. What is brought in from outside resonates within the campsite and influences future incarnations of the site's culture.

Growing a sense of place through the edible schoolyard, playground habitats and classrooms floating on the river: a multi-media ethnography showcasing intergenerational voices

Author: Maureen Porter (University of Pittsburgh)  email
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Short Abstract

School gardens, playground habitats, classrooms floating on the river: multi-media ethnography of educators cultivating a sense of place. These living spaces blur the boundaries between inside-outside and school-community. Intergenerational narratives situate these growing school spaces.

Long Abstract

This multi-media ethnography highlights a set of programs that help urban and suburban schools to cultivate ecologically diverse spaces on their grounds. These living classrooms blur the boundaries between inside-outside and school-community. School gardens not only provide weekly treats for"Salad Day," but they also offer children the sensual pleasures of dirt and warm fruit in an increasingly sanitized school environment. Gardens are the impetus to welcome community elders who teach about gardening and foods representing the children's home cultures. Schoolyard habitat restoration projects bring back heritage plants and involve kids in crafting material artifacts that expand the "nature" of education. Walls of windows in the remodeled school encompass the ancient tree in the schoolyard and let youth bask in the sun year-round. A floating eco-boat takes teachers and schoolchildren directly onto the Three Rivers. Once aboard, they hear intergenerational narratives of deindustrialization and revitalization of their hometown; river water sampling provides hands-on lessons in citizenship and conservation. Strong senses of place and stewardship mold young lives and provide the means to connect and to care as adults. This collaborative project brings together the voices, physical labor, and documentary photographs of youth, teachers, parents, garden coordinators, and university scholars. Schools are actively reshaping their reputations by cultivating a generations of proud students and involved parents. They "plant" their hopes and "harvest" rich rewards, just as each class of kindergarteners plant "their" tulips and wait for the first thaw of spring to reveal new blossoms.

Learning spaces: a methodological framework for analyzing classrooms' materiality

Authors: Markus Rieger-Ladich (University of Fribourg (CH))  email
Kathrin Berdelmann (Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz)  email
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Short Abstract

We focus on the socializing effects of classrooms' materiality - on the impact of artefacts as elements of a symbolic universe that affects students and teachers. By analyzing photos we look at the interplay of "agents" and "actants" that qualifies differently in regard to habitual dispositions

Long Abstract

Although classrooms are such spaces that have strong socializing effects, they are hardly objects of research within social sciences. This explicit research-gap applies also for educational research.

Nevertheless, recently some effort is observable to analyze classrooms in regard to their architectural designs in order to uncover their social effects. Based on different theoretical backgrounds, the interactional complexity of space, agent and artefact is centre of their focus. We would like to contribute to this discussion with our paper. It deals with the significance and impact of things and artefacts within classrooms. We cannot not consider those things to be lifeless matter or neutral objects. Moreover we define them as elements of a symbolic universe that affects both students and teachers in a sustained manner. Theoretically referring to the work of Bruno Latour (2005) we investigate the interplay of "agents" and "actants" and focus on the idiosyncratic materiality of classrooms. We assume that certain dimensions of materiality, but also room structure as well as construction material, has both exclusive and inclusive agency concerning its usage. More precisely, classroom's materiality qualifies for students differently in regard to their individual dispositions. Our special research interest lies exactly on detecting these powerful effects of different dimensions of materiality.

In order to do so, we analyse photographs of classrooms in both Switzerland and Germany. Methodologically we draw on the concepts of visual ethnography (Pink 2001). By analysing contrasting material with respect to different school types and school milieus we reconstruct certain aspects of culture within classrooms, which lie in different dimensions of materiality.

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School architecture and school development

Author: Jeanette Boehme (University of Duisburg-Essen)  email
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Short Abstract

School architectures can prevent the realization of school development and thus neglect school actors. Therefore the school is regarded problematically as a limited place of learning and alternative spatial regulations of learning and formational processes are to be suggested.

Long Abstract

The results of our ongoing research project supported by the DFG (German Research Foundation) are to be presented whose central part is the meaning of school architectures for the realization and thus for the change of the cultural order in schools.

The study contrasts schools that show a maximum of difference from each other with regard to the degree of openness and closeness of their spatial orders. By comparing these schools we differentiate between four cultural dimensions of spatial orders in schools: material school architectures, daily spatial practices, space-related interpretation patterns of school actors and pedagogic concepts of space of each school. We are going to demonstrate with the help of specific cases how school architectures can even prevent the realization of pedagogic concepts and how actors deal with that space-related crisis of school development. Focusing on individual schools raises the question: What is the school still able to accomplish being a limited, locatable place of learning?

Thus, the dynamics of globalization, mediatization, informalization and the spread of knowledge into out-of- school learning environments become increasingly important. Those learning environments gain in importance for children and adolescents and compete with their schools. Is it therefore still possible to legitimate the compulsory attendance which is, for instance in Germany, enshrined in the law? Finally, how can we find perspectives for future spatial regulations of formational and learning processes?

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Schoolyards and gender relations

Authors: Rosa Diketmueller (University of Vienna)  email
Heide Studer (University of Vienna)  email
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Short Abstract

The research investigates gender play in school recess. It points out that several factors influence the utilisation of schoolyards: Physical structures, the teachers' pedagogical approach and gender awareness and pupils' daily rituals have an impact on the spatial opportunities of boys and girls.

Long Abstract

Children and youths do gender differently according to which place they are at. Several studies show, that schools and school yards are places where pupils behave very stereotypically and where traditional gender roles are produced and reproduced (Boyle 2003; Diketmüller & Studer 2007; Pellegrini 1995, Thorne 1993). Based on the assumption that gender relations are also embedded within institutions (Goffman 1977), the aim of the study is to examine how gender play takes place within schoolyards, how utilization and meaning of space are negotiated and which factors influence these processes.

The data of participant observation in 20 Austrian school yards (60 recesses) were applied and compared with the data of structured interviews with the heads of those schools (n=20), teachers (n=29) and pupils (n=38) and were analysed by content analysis technique.

On the one hand the findings lead to the conclusion that the physical structure of space has an impact on children's activities during recess. On the other hand gender awareness of the teachers influences girls' and boys' activities in school yards: If and how disadvantages by gender are seen, how gender issues are dealt with, how activities of boys and girls are appraised and supported. In addition the overall pedagogical approach affects how children are encouraged and empowered in participatory processes in school. Especially the way how girls and boys negotiate the usage of school yards and existing rules are important aspects in breaking up (unequal) gender relations and in supporting children to 'make' school yards to their places.

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Space, body and movement: thinking about power and emotions in schools

Author: Maria Alexandra Leandro (ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper concerns the reflection on school micro-policy concerning the regulation of student's mobility and spatial performances, having in mind the importance of body, movement, emotions and power in schooling experience.

Long Abstract

The systematic observation of spatial regulation in schools, along with the interpersonal and group dynamics that evolve from the way space is distributed, challenges us to look deeper into how school micro-policy is emotionally oriented. In addition, analysing student's mobility and spatial performances, which are tightly controlled by school administration and staff, tells us things about the importance of body, movement and emotions in schooling experience.

The 'domestication' of student's bodies and movements is not an easy task. Each school year brings new spatial configurations, in search of a renewed balance between 'opening' and 'closing', in order to defend and (re)build adults' territories. The way space is distributed and given sense is a continuous and quarrelsome process, which involves some structuring elements - centre/periphery, school staff/students, class time/break.

The reflection on this territorial dimension, in the context of school's daily functioning, obliges us to look at space mobility and occupation as important individual, group and institutional resources. While experiencing their distance from decisions considering the distribution of these resources, students engage in different transgressing practices, learning that adult's vigilance can be breakable.

This ceaseless movement of spatial prohibitions can be experienced by students as important sources of frustration. Nevertheless, they contest and rewrite these impossibilities, tacking advantage of its recreational potential. These performances comprehend different choreographies, some of them in clear confront with school administration and staff, other in more discreet configurations.

'Go to the corner'! Evolution of the spatial reorganization of punishment in the Romanian classroom

Author: Iuliana Spataru (Université Bordeaux 2)  email
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Short Abstract

Having as a case-study an ethnography of school-violence in Romanian secondary-schools, this paper proposes an analysis of the history of the symbolical representation of the (corporal) punishment in the space of the classroom.

Long Abstract

In the space of each (school) culture, education was historical associated with different uses of punishment as an element of discipline and control in the scholar system. My analysis will follow this idea taking as a case-study the Romanian school. During the XXth century, the classroom has been a dual space, a space of protection and learning as well as a space of discipline and punishment.

Violence in the Romanian school is a research subject in continuous evolution, as the school-violence was officially de-legalized only in 2004. My paper, theoretically informed by anthropological and educational sciences studies on school violence, is constructed around an analysis of the history of the symbolical representation of the (corporal) punishment in the space of the classroom along XXth century Romanian school. What are the punishment practices and their relation with the classroom space? How were those practices legitimatized and performed during time? How did evolve the spatial reorganization of the punishment in the classroom, in relation with its different actors, school climates (rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural) and purposes? What is the memory of those 'punishment-spaces' in the life-histories of the Romanian pupils of today and yesterday?

The analysis is based on a long-term fieldwork, started in 2007, on five secondary schools from North-East Romania, being part of my doctoral research on Corporal Punishment in the Romanian School at University Bordeaux 2 (International Observatory on Violence in School).

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.