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Beyond the Classroom

Studies on Pupils and Informal Schooling Processes in Modern Europe


Edited By Anna Larsson and Björn Norlin

The research on educational history has traditionally focused on its institutional, political and pedagogical aspects, more or less habitually analyzing schooling as a top-down, adult-controlled phenomenon. Even if change has been visible during the last decades, there still remain important topics that are rarely discussed in the field. These topics include practices related to day-to-day school life that are not part of the formal curriculum or classroom routine, but which nevertheless allow pupils to become actively involved in their own schooling. This book provides historical case studies on such extracurricular and informal schooling processes. It argues that the awareness of such topics is essential to our understanding of school settings – in both past and present.
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I. Introduction: Taking Pupils into Account in Educational History Research


Today, research on informal schooling processes and peer group socialisation among children and teens in contemporary education constitutes a well-established, multidisciplinary field. Few challenge the basic premise that the modern-day school is a multiform meeting place that, particularly outside the classroom – on playgrounds, in hallways and school-related Internet forums, etc. – provides meaningful arenas for the socialization of today’s young, both during and after school hours.

In educational history however, the picture is somewhat different. The latest decade of research has been characterized by an increased interest in cultural perspectives on past schooling and by a growing focus on the linguistic, material, spatial, emotional and sensory physiognomies of education.1 This has engendered a broadened awareness of the dialectical ← 9 | 10 → relationship between for example formal educational policies, architecture, teaching technologies and the individuals subjected to school environments. Even so, the field keeps much of its traditional focus trained on practices connected to formal institutional and pedagogical aspects of education, more or less habitually analyzing schooling as a “top-down”, adult-controlled phenomenon. Features of extracurricular school life such as play and recess, organized forms of pupil self-governance, liberal self-study in local school societies, boarding school culture, national and transnational school youth movements, extramural exchange of ideas between pupils, and more subtle forms of peer group socialization linked to day-to-day school life, are still rarely examined and accounted for in the field.

Aim and Ambition

The ambition of the present volume is to contribute to the...

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