The emotional and social geographies of teacher education: considering space-time frameworks

Year: 2012

Author: Murray, Jean

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The emotional and social geographies of teacher education 


This paper draws on studies of space/spatiality and the history of teacher education to form a theoretical framework of space-time (Massey, 1999) for analysing the findings from a small-scale ethnographic study. The focus is the relocations made by two Schools of Education in England from small, 'old' campuses, on the peripheries of their universities geographically and based around buildings which were once teacher training colleges, to the main ('new') modernised campuses of their institutions. Research questions included how students and academics perceived both campuses and what effects of the relocations had on their lives in teacher education.


As a multi-method ethnography, data collection instruments included documentary analysis, field notes from observations, pre- and post-relocation questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with students and academics, again pre- and post-relocation. All elements of the study had full ethical approval.


The findings indicate the ways in which the spaces of the old campuses were integral to the historical and contemporary practices, social relations and professional identities found. Many aspects of the old campuses were those of the stereotypical teacher education of a bygone age. For all respondents, the history of teacher education permeated the spaces on the old campuses, resonating in their practices and lived experiences in both overt and tacit ways.

In the post-relocation findings the positive perceptions of the new campuses by the majority of the students were clear, as were the predominantly negative perceptions of the academics.  For the students the relocations opened up the worlds of the 'proper' university with all its multiplicity of opportunities, but for many academics they undermined key tenets of identities and work. In the relocations then, it was not just the spaces of teacher education that changed for academics, but also the social and psychic boundaries of self and identity as well.


This work addresses an under-researched aspect of teacher education. It indicates what deploying a space-time theoretical framework might contribute to understanding the field, its power relations and its social and emotional geographies, as well as its institutional locations and histories. It also captures and analyses a disappearing part of the history of teacher education in England, as once conducted in the spaces of the old teacher training colleges.

Massey, D. 1999. Spaces of Politics. In  D. Massey, J. Allen & P.Sarre (eds) Human Geography Today. Cambridge: Polity Press