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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 IV. SPACE AND DESIGN OF CLASSROOMS

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PART IV SPACE AND DESIGN OF CLASSROOMS 203 An Architectural View of the Classroom Alexander KOUTAMANIS & Yolanda MAJEWSKI-STEIJNS Delft University of Technology; ICOP, Rotterdam Form and Arrangement Origins of a Stereotype Similarly to most specialized buildings, schools as we know them today are a relatively late architectural development, dating back to the 19th century. At that time, building design and production began to match wider social demand in Western societies in terms of both quality and quantity, in this case with respect to mass schooling.1 Under the same conditions a variety of building types and (mostly urban) land- scapes emerged, from hospitals and libraries to suburbs and most types of housing common today. Schools are an integral part of the period, ubiquitous in the social and spatial patterns that emerged from it. They are crucial to most aspects of organized societies since then, as means of personal improvement and social cohesion, as targets of civic pride and political worry, as landmarks in space and time. Being sensitive to the convergence of different aspects by training, architects could hardly fail to acknowledge the importance of school buildings not only for their clients but also their own profession. Evidence of this abounds in the prominence of educational buildings in histories of recent architecture, as well as in the expectations from architecture in non-architectural accounts of the school.2 Interestingly, both sides appear to agree that the history of school buildings amounts to a quest for elements and princi- ples for composing school designs...

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