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Geographies of alternative education

Geographies of alternative education: Diverse learning spaces for children and young people

Peter Kraftl
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  • Book Info
    Geographies of alternative education
    Book Description:

    This book offers a comparative analysis of alternative education in the UK, focusing on learning spaces that cater for children and young people. It constitutes one of the first book-length explorations of alternative learning spaces outside mainstream education - including Steiner, human scale and forest schools, care farms and homeschooling.Based on original research with teachers, parents and young people at over 50 learning spaces, Geographies of alternative education demonstrates the importance of a geographical lens for understanding alternative education. In so doing, it develops contemporary theories of autonomy, emotion/affect, habit, intergenerational relations and life-itself. The book will appeal to academics and postgraduates in the fields of geography, sociology, education and youth studies. Given ongoing concerns about the state's role in providing children's education, and an increase in the number of alternative education providers in the UK and elsewhere, the book also highlights several critical questions for policy makers and practitioners.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0051-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Many educators prioritise learning processes over learning spaces. In whatever setting, a ‘good education’ is most often underpinned by the attributes of the teacher, the willingness of the learners, the appropriateness of the curriculum and the quality of the relationship between teachers and learners. In undertaking the primary research for this book, I have been told — sometimes forcefully — that excellent learning experiences can take place in what appear to be the direst, barest and most impoverished physical surroundings. Indeed, in several of the examples included in this book, learning takes place in run-down portable cabins, simple patches of woodland, condemned...

  2. TWO Conceptual frameworks: towards geographies of alternative education
    (pp. 23-54)

    Contemporary research on education is enormously broad, rich and intense, and spans several academic disciplines. It would be inappropriate to try to review these bodies of work in this chapter, and I would therefore direct interested readers to authoritative reviews by disciplinary specialists (Ball, 2004; Moore, 2004; Curren, 2007). Moreover, writing as a geographer – where studies of education are relatively nascent – it is inevitable that this book will omit reference to research that readers from other disciplines may deem important, because I want to interrogate thespatialitiesof alternative education. However, at the same time, I hope that this book...

  3. THREE Alternative learning spaces in the UK: background to the case studies used in this book
    (pp. 55-88)

    This chapter provides a systematic overview of the case studies discussed in this book. It is divided into rough ‘types’ for ease of reference, using the same typology found in Table 1.1. The chapter is intended as a touchstone for the later, thematic chapters, providing some historical, practical and theoretical background so that examples and quotations do not appear out of context. Each section includes an outline of the following with regard to each type: history, development and key proponents (where appropriate); main pedagogical principles and practices; academic research concerning that approach; significant ‘moments’ where that approach appears in this...

  4. FOUR Connection/disconnection: positioning alternative learning spaces
    (pp. 89-118)

    One of the central aims of this book is to consider what makes alternative learning spaces ‘alternative’. I began this task in Chapter Three, where I outlined some of the principal pedagogical and organisational features of the educational types included in this book. In many cases, it is those kinds of features – from conceptions of child development to the role of the teacher – that explicitly mark out those spacesasalternative (Sliwka, 2008). At the same time, many of the case studies (and the organisations representing them) promote themselves as somehow alternative to, or different from, mainstream education in the...

  5. FIVE Mess/order: materials, timings, feelings
    (pp. 119-150)

    Historically, it has been assumed that the term ‘space’ delineates something that is static, bounded and restrictive. In contrast, philosophers have tended to concentrate on the creative possibilities evoked by concepts of time (Massey, 2005). More recently, however, geographers have stressed that it is impossible and undesirable to divorce our understandings of time and space (Dodgshon, 2008). This is another reason that I began this book by arguing for the study ofspatialities, not simply the physical spaces in which learning happens. In the production of spatialities, society and space are constantly being remade together, in dynamic ways. Thus, the...

  6. SIX Movement/embodiment: learning habits (I)
    (pp. 151-176)

    One of the key arguments of this book is that the spatialities of learning arelively. In other words, the seeming obduracy of the physical environment may be brought to life in ways that lend learning spaces a dynamic, complex quality. In Chapter Five I began this argument by attending to temporal and material forms of dis/order. In this chapter I turn to a related but distinct set of ways in which alternative learning spaces may be enlivened: in the movement of human bodies within and between learning spaces. I focus upon movement for two reasons. The first is empirical:...

  7. SEVEN Inter/personal relations: scale, love and learning habits (II)
    (pp. 177-208)

    This chapter focuses on some of the interpersonal relations that sustain alternative learning spaces. Drawing on the arguments in previous chapters, it asks what kinds of interpersonal relationships are – in the view of educators – most appropriate for learning. I look initially at how these relationships are characterised – for instance, as ‘friendship’ or ‘family’. I then interrogate the intensity of these relationships, focusing, as in previous chapters, upon feelings, and especially those like empathy, care and love. Finally, I return to the question of habit. However, rather than thinking about how habits are internalised within young people to change their behaviour...

  8. EIGHT Towards the ‘good life’: alternative visions of learning, love and life-itself
    (pp. 209-234)

    Throughout this book, I have tried to provide a sense of the liveliness of alternative learning spaces. From the outset, I have not wanted simply to discern the role that physical, bounded spaces (the classroom, the forest, the farm) might play in directing children’s learning. I have continually insisted upon the importance of the spatialities of alternative education, which, bearing in mind the previous chapters, can be understood as entanglements of materiality, habit, feeling, temporal rhythm, interpersonal relationships and much more besides. I have tried to build up a sense that alternative learning spaces are constituted of multiple, complex and...

  9. NINE Conclusion: geographies of alternative education and the value of autonomous learning spaces
    (pp. 235-258)

    The beginning of the 21st century was characterised by both striking changes and significant continuities in the UK educational landscape. From 2010 the role of the state in providing education came under particular scrutiny, with a new coalition government intent on implementing ‘austerity measures’ after the global economic downturn of 2008 onwards. At the same time, many of the underlying assumptions of neoliberalism inherited from the previous government persisted, albeit in an ‘intensified’ form (Grimshaw and Rubery, 2012, p 105). For instance, the previous New Labour administration’s grand, nationwide school-building projects had been replaced with discourses of austerity and local...