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Publication - Professor Keri Facer

    Governing Education Through Anticipation

    Or, how to avoid being a useful idiot when talking about educational futures


    Facer, K, 2018, ‘Governing Education Through Anticipation: Or, how to avoid being a useful idiot when talking about educational futures’. in: Lisa Rasmussen, Ian Grosvenor (eds) Governing Education Through Design. Springer, Cham, pp. 197-210


    School buildings, as this book has clearly demonstrated, are central to the governance of education. Their design regulates bodies, movement, interaction and expectations of what might or might not be possible in these sorts of spaces. But what governs the design of school buildings? What shapes the educational imagination that specifies the size of classrooms, the expectations of how many students will be in these spaces, the assumptions about the school’s role in relation to community, the presence or absence of computer suites?

    In this chapter, I want to argue that ideas of ‘the future’ are central to the educational imagination that shapes building design. A building, after all, is what de Jouvenaal called a little ‘jetty into the future’. It is a material intervention in the present that is intended to last beyond the moment, to sustain into another time that is not now. School buildings are therefore doubly entangled in the ongoing dialogue between education and the future – they are both imagined as mechanisms for governing education and the individual and social futures that will emerge from that educational practice; and they are also intended, in themselves, to continue as material actors in those futures.

    Nowhere was this idea of school buildings as material actors in social futures more evident than in the UK’s (2003-2010) Building Schools for the Future Programme where schools were envisaged not merely as educational institutions, but were to stand as highly visible signifiers of the role of knowledge and learning in the transformation of local communities to a future knowledge economy (Kraftl, 2012). In this chapter, then, I want to explore the relationship between ideas of the future and the educational and architectural imagination that underpins school building design, with a particular focus on the example of the UK’s Building Schools for the Future programme. In doing so, I want to highlight the limits of contemporary approaches to using the future in educational governance and explore, instead, what it might mean to take the complexity of ‘the future’ seriously in the design of educational buildings.

    Full details in the University publications repository