The school is not a learning environment: How language matters for the practical study of educational practices

Gert Biesta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this invited commentary for the special issue on ‘How built spaces influence practices of educators’ work: An examination through practice lens,’ I discuss how insights from the theory of practice architecture and the theory of practice ontology are helpful in exploring the complexities of educational practices, particularly with reference to the locations within and through which such practices take place. By focusing on the doings, sayings and relatings that take place in such practices and on their material conditions, the contributions add much nuance and detail to the understanding of educational practices, particularly when such practices are ‘in transition’ due to forces that are often beyond the influence of the actors in such practices themselves. The main critical point I make concerns the sayings utilised by the authors themselves. I suggest that references to ‘learning’ are problematic in the study of educational practices. I single out the idea of seeing schools, colleges and universities as ‘learning environments.’ I provide reasons why this way of engaging with educational practices is problematic–both from a research perspective and from a practice and policy perspective–and suggest that the better designation would be that of seeing them as educational practices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Continuing Education
Early online date12 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • educational theory
  • emancipation
  • language
  • learning
  • practice architecture


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