Spatiality and Teacher Workplace Cultures

McGregor, Jane Hazel (2004). Spatiality and Teacher Workplace Cultures. PhD thesis The Open University.



Space makes a difference. Although much schooling is spatially constituted, its significance is largely unrecognised in educational research. In this thesis I explore how space is implicated in the construction of the school as a workplace for teachers and other adults.

Empirical case studies of two secondary schools in England employed a variety of methods to explore the spatial orderings that both shaped activity and were produced by it, and the meaning that was made of this. The department proved to be a major location for interactions with colleagues. This demonstrated a need to move from monolithic notions of school culture or even teacher subcultures. Such configurations of teacher interactions were then explored through practice-based theorising in relation to new conceptions of situated learning, including communities of practice. In spatialising these interpretive strategies and integrating a Foucaultian approach to power relations, it became apparent that lateral modalities of power such as collaboration and negotiation are critical elements locating adult learning and work. The crucial importance of context in the associations of teachers is therefore articulated here through spatiality. This is congruent with moves in critical pedagogy to develop more emancipatory relationships through locating practice.

The theoretical lenses afforded by spatiality, including those informed by actor-network theories. are used to focus on multi-layered and complex networks of social and technological relations. constellations of everyday materially-embedded practices extending in complex interrelations beyond what is variably perceived as 'the school'. Spatiality, as space-time. is enacted and constituted through the social; thus the form, location and content of interactions represent a particular nexus of dynamic power relations constituting 'the workplace'. In this formulation, schools as workplaces for adults are spaces continually made and remade.

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