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Professional Life and Work

The Life of a School

Studying the Life of a School

Finding Conjunctures

In chapter 7, we define and employ the notion of conjunctures to develop an intersectional view of school (see Goodson, 2004, 2010)

There are two routes to identifying a conjuncture. First, you can approach the question by looking for an important event in the way described above and then seeing if it did in fact mark a conjuncture. A conjuncture provides actors with structures of opportunity. Once an important event has been suggested, analyse the trends at the other levels of time to see if the event did represent the seizing of opportunity. Of course, opportunity missed cannot be identified this way.

A second way is to work in the opposite direction, by identifying those periods when a conjuncture was possible. In this case, you have to decide what phenomena you see fitting into which type of time. Mind sets, trading cycles, and geography have traditionally been put into the category of long time and, thus, are unlikely to change in any study of recent educational history. Conjuncture occurs when several medium-term cycles enter coincidental periods of change. Thus, a way to search for conjuncture is to chart the medium-term cycles. Decide upon those cycles which are likely to have an effect on your chosen area of interest. These will be external to your school, operating at the level of local, regional, national, and international trends in things such as curriculum reform, educational structures, or resource allocations, as well as broader social and economic areas (Goodson & Hargreaves, 2006). Reconceptualising our study of curriculum change and school change along these lines offers a promising perspective for studying the life of a school.

From this historical base, we can move into the analysis of curriculum history and the painstaking reconstruction of the everyday life of the school. In this way, to paraphrase E. P. Thompson (1968), we can save the teachers and the students of school from the enduring “condescension of history.”

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The Life of a School
  • Date of publication: 01/05/2011
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 154
  • Publisher: Peter Lang
  • Co-author: Goodson, I. F., & Anstead, C.
  • Subject:
    Professional Life and Work
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    The Life of a School
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £19.10
  • ISBN: 978-94-6091-538-3
  • Buy used and new from: Amazon UK