Inequalities in educational practice reproduce inequalities in society: this is the basis of critical theories of education. Social class has implications therefore for educational attainment. Furthermore, part of the educational process is the transferral of ‘normalising practices’, both in social terms but also in terms of education’s – even the learner’s – relationship to the state.
Furthermore, education supports state power due to the state’s hand not only in policy but in the functioning of education itself. The state has little neutrality in its approach to education: the imperatives according to which the state functions are translated into educational contexts. Therefore, there emerges in education ‘a premium on control, prediction, assessment and efficiency’ (Gibson 1986: 51). Education is in this sense instrumentalised, both for the state and for students.
This is evidenced by the attitude of the contemporary student to his or her education. The student has become a consumer both in their approach to and relationship with educational institutions.
Monica McLean writes that the role of universities “in achieving the critical objective of social justice and the capacity to address the problems of a globalized society is to develop minds capable of communicative reason” (2006: 103). The Roundhouse journal is committed to this purpose, and therefore in its practice and function reflects it.
Communicative practice in education should extend not just between teachers and students; but between students themselves. Educative relationships based on communicative interaction allow for development through shared experience.
This fosters a learning culture both inside and outside institutions. Through collective groups of learners, individuals are able to achieve much greater understanding of concepts than would be possible individually.
An organic structure in education is therefore possible. Learning cultures remain vital and authentic and retain their lifeworld associations.
This structure extends beyond traditional classroom boundaries and stands outside the individualised approach of success-oriented education.
In order to build such collective groups – and as a result of the organic character of learning cultures – new spaces of learning emerge. Such collectives can fully exploit the possibilities of new technologies for learning, without those technologies themselves distorting the learning process.
Technological advances – despite their clear potential for colonisation – nonetheless allow for new spaces for interaction, understanding and the exchange of ideas. Presently, institutions as such are attempting to adapt to this social phenomena, with limited success, for the purposes of conventional educational practices.
However, too often these initiatives remain institution-centric and thus merely extend their hierarchic and vertical character. Such managed spaces become an extension of the traditional classroom.
These spaces are useful only if they allow us to interact constructively and imaginatively with our peers.
Institutions now face an impending choice: to adapt to contemporary social and technological realities or become increasingly farther removed from genuinely educational experiences. It is otherwise difficult to conceive of how they can resist the pressures of further colonisation brought about by their social position and relationship to state.
The Roundhouse has emerged from an organic process where students – seeking to expand and consolidate our knowledge – developed spaces for continuing our learning inside and outside institutions.
Our intention is to put communicative practices to work both in creating and sustaining the journal and encouraging such practices in our wider environment.
Our editorial board is formed of students in conversation with each other and contributors.
Contributions are encouraged not only from students, but also from recent graduates, academics and those continuing to learn outside of institutions.
Submissions are peer-reviewed, and go through a process of discursive editing allowing for engagement of all involved with the ideas they contain.
Nonetheless, we are committed to publishing work with the highest standard of critical enquiry.
The principal aim of Roundhouse is in its collaboration with future students and contributors, in order to extend the experience of shared learning into the future and to make available an expanding, coherent body of ideas.
The work presented here is an attempt to make real the notion of educational value existing for its own sake, and not for strategically motivated ends.
Emphasis on the continuing development of ideas promotes critical distance from, and increased value in, work produced.
The written essay, once produced, should not exist in a vacuum. Nor does it, in any real sense, represent a completion of any discussion or the totality of an author’s ideas.
A network will develop, through Roundhouse, that will link students, graduates, and academics to the discussion and development of ideas. The expanding body of work will be inherited by each new cohort of contributing editors, who will in turn pass their work on to the next cohort.
Projects of inherited research have been put into practice in the empirical sciences. Roundhouse attempts to do the same with social theory.
These principles and Roundhouse itself will and should continue to evolve.