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The Black Box of Schooling

A Cultural History of the Classroom

Edited By Sjaak Braster, Ian Grosvenor and María del Mar del Pozo Andrés

This book is about the classroom, the most important meeting place for teachers and pupils in an education building. Our knowledge, however, about what happens inside this space is limited. In many respects the classroom is still the black box of the educational system.
To open up this box, this volume brings together scholars from the disciplines of Art, Architecture, History, Pedagogy and Sociology. They present a wide variety of new perspectives, methodologies and sources for studying classrooms.
The book examines images and representations of classrooms (photographs, paintings and pictures on school walls), writings and documents inside the classroom (school exercise books, teachers’ log books and observer reports), memories and personal experiences of classrooms (egodocuments from teachers and pupils, and oral history interviews), the space and design of classrooms (architecture, school murals and the transformation of space), and material objects in the classroom (school furniture, primers for reading and school wall charts). The essays are illustrated with a unique collection of more than fifty photographs of classrooms in Europe.


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PART III MEMORIES AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES ABOUT CLASSROOMS 141 Teachers’ Egodocuments as a Source of Classroom History The Case of Autobiographies, Memoirs and Diaries1 Antonio VIÑAO University of Murcia Introduction This study focuses upon the analysis of autobiographies, memoirs and diaries of primary school teachers, printed or in manuscript form, in Spain from the mid 19th century to the present as a source of classroom history. Its main aim is the study of classroom history itself based on these sources, but it also examines the possibilities and limitations of autobiographies, memoirs and diaries as egodocuments and historical sources for classroom history. Egodocuments as a Source for the History of Education The study of autobiographies, memoirs and diaries has been enriched in recent decades by the analysis of these texts within the wider concept of egodocuments. This term, coined by the Dutch historian Jacques Presser in 1958, has come to encompass anything written of a self ref- erential nature, whatever the type, form or length. The coinage and use of this new term is the logical outcome of historians’ growing interest in self referential texts (not only autobiographies, memoirs and diaries, but also self portraits, autobiographical interviews, letters and written cor- respondence, agendas, family records and accounts, credentials, travel writings, trial records and a long et cetera). This interest stems not only from a social history which is ever more attentive to the ordinary human beings, peoples or social groups from all walks of life, but also from the 1...

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