den Besten, O., Horton, J., Adey, P. and Kraftl, P. (2008) The event(s) of school design. Paper presented to: Royal Geographical Society, with Institute of British Geographers (IBG), Annual International Conference, London, 27-29 August 2008.
den Besten, O., Horton, J., Adey, P. and Kraftl, P.
In this paper we contend that the many extant sociologies and histories of Education have overwhelmingly tended to efface the specific materials, practices and happenings which constitute (a) ‘school’. Drawing upon research regarding contemporary school (re)design in the UK, we claim that attention to such specificities demands an appreciation of schools – and ‘school’ itself – as evental. Sketching the conceptual, critical and political implications of this claim, we present three (not entirely congruous, yet not entirely separable) apprehensions of the event(s) of recent British school (re)design. First, we consider the political discourses of major, ongoing school (re)construction and (re)design programmes such as Building Schools for the Future. These programmes are fashioned as major policy Events; similarly, the new school environments they produce are intended transformative, interventional Events in local communities. Second, we consider the complex, multiple quotidian events, actions and connections through which school (re)design – and indeed school(ing) itself – happens, in practice and in situ. Third, acknowledging the vast volume and intricacy of such connections and details – the minutiae of building regulations, the small talk of local government policy-making, the small print of private finance initiatives, and the contingencies of children’s and teachers’ participation in design, for example – we consider the excessive quality of events of school design, per se, and its implications for chief accounts/understanding of spaces of/for education.