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Materialities of Schooling
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Comparative Histories of Education

Materialities of Schooling

design, technology, objects, routines


2005 paperback 218 pages, £30.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-30-4

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About the book

This is a book with an interest in the materiality of schooling. It is focused on objects in schooling, which, taken individually and together, constitute the sites of schooling. It does not assume a fixed dichotomy between objects and people, in other words, that there is a life of imagination and action, and there are collections of inanimate objects. Nor does it assume that the technologies and objects of schooling, chained together by routines and action, should remain invisible from inquiry into schools as sites of learning and work. Instead, by drawing attention to the materiality of schooling, that is, the ways that objects are given meaning, how they are used, and how they are linked into heterogeneous active networks, in which people, objects and routines are closely connected, it is hoped that a richer historical account can be created about the ways that schools work.


Martin Lawn & Ian Grosvenor. Introduction. The Materiality of Schooling

Elsie Rockwell. Walls, Fences and Keys: the enclosure of rural indigenous schools

Antonio Viñao. The School Head’s Office as Territory and Place: location and physical layout in the first Spanish graded schools

Pedro L. Moreno Martínez. History of School Desk Development in Terms of Hygiene and Pedagogy in Spain (1838?1936)

Inés Dussel. The Shaping of a Citizenship with Style: a history of uniforms and vestimentary codes in Argentinean public schools

Catherine Burke. Light: metaphor and materiality in the history of schooling

Martin Lawn. A Pedagogy for the Public: the place of objects, observation, mechanical production and cupboards

Ian Grosvenor. ‘Pleasing to the Eye and at the Same Time Useful in Purpose’: a historical exploration of educational exhibitions

Margaret H. White. Exhibiting Practices: paper as a site of communication and contested practice

Carey Jewitt & Ken Jones. Managing Time and Space in the New English Classroom


Catherine Burke is a historian working in the School of Education at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, where she coordinates the BA (Hons) Childhood, Education and Culture programme. Her current research interests include the visual culture of school and how children and young people can participate in the design of learning spaces for the future. She has published in the fields of women’s studies, childhood and education history and has co-authored a book with Ian Grosvenor, The School I’d Like (RoutledgeFalmer, 2003).

Inés Dussel is a researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Argentina, where she directs the Education Research Area. She has authored five books and several articles and book chapters on the history of education and pedagogical theories. Her interests include the history of education and pedagogy, postmodern theories of education, and issues of identity and difference in schooling.

Ian Grosvenor is Professor of Urban Educational History and Director of Teaching and Learning at the School of Education, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Current research focuses on new ways of conceptualising and presenting the educational past through consideration of issues relating to space, design, technology, the visual in education, artefacts and identity formation. He is convenor of the History of Education Network within the European Educational Research Association and co-founder of the Domus Centre for Interdisciplinary Research into the Cultural Histories of Education at Birmingham.

Carey Jewitt is an Academic Fellow at the London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education, University of London, United Kingdom. She researches visual and multimodal communication. She is Co-editor of the journal Visual Communication and her recent publications include, English in Urban Classrooms, with Ken Jones, Gunther Kress and colleagues (Routledge, 2005) and Technology, Literacy, Learning: a multimodal perspective (Routledge, 2005).

Ken Jones is Professor of Education at Keele University. He is the author of Education in Britain (Polity Press, 2003).

Martin Lawn is a Professor at the University of Edinburgh. He is the Editor of the European Educational Research Journal. His main field of work is the materiality of schooling, international networks in education, and the history of educational research. He has published Silences and Images; social histories of classrooms, edited with Ian Grosvenor & Kate Rousmaniere (Peter Lang, New York, 1998) and Fabricating Europe: the formation of an education space, edited with António Nóvoa (Kluwer, 2002).

Pedro L. Moreno Martínez is Professor of Theory and History of Education at the University of Murcia, Spain where he teaches the History of Social Education. His main fields of interest are history of literacy, history of social education and history of material cultures of schooling. Currently he is taking part in the research project approved by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Research: ‘The material culture in educational institutions in twentieth-century in Spain: school architecture and furniture and scientific equipment’.

Elsie Rockwell is full professor and researcher at the Department of Educational Research, Center for Research and Advanced Studies, in Mexico City, where she also holds a Doctorate. She completed a Master’s degree in history at the University of Chicago, and also studied anthropology at the National University of Mexico. A co-founder of the field of educational ethnography in Latin America, and an active member of the Society for History of Education in Mexico, she has contributed articles to the European Educational Research Journal, Human Development, Anthropology and Education Quarterly and Paedagogica Historica, as well as chapters to books edited by T. McCarty, B. Levinson, D. Olson, and G. Joseph, among others. Rockwell teaches graduate students and is currently involved in further research on the history of indigenous experiences with schooling and literacy in Mexico.

Antonio Viñao is Professor of Theory and History of Education at the University of Murcia, Spain. From 1994 to 2000 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education, and since 2001 he has been president of the Spanish Society of History of Education. His main areas of research are history of literacy (reading and writing as cultural practices) and schooling, history of school culture (textbooks and school subjects, school spaces and times, school cultures and educational reforms), and secondary education. In recent years he has published, among other works, the following books: Tiempos escolares, tiempos sociales. La distribución del tiempo y del trabajo en la enseñanza primaria en España (18381936) (Barcelona, 1998), Currículo, espaço e subjetividade. A arquitectura como programa (with Agustín Escolano) (Rio de Janeiro, 1998) Leer y escribir. Historia de dos prácticas culturales (México, 1999), Sistemas educativos, culturas escolares y reformas: continuidades y cambios (Madrid, 2002), and Escuela para todos. Educación y modernidad en la España del siglo XX (Madrid, 2004).

Margaret H. White is a Senior Lecturer in the Australian Centre for Educational Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Her teaching and research are focused on how artistic processes, experiences and expression are used to work within a culture. Projects that have emerged from this enquiry include research into material culture in education involving analysis of historical images, and history of Progressive and New Education.

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