Colin Ward and anarchist educational concepts A lecture by Catherine Burke

Colin Ward and anarchist educational concepts of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘We make the road by walking’

A lecture by Catherine Burke



In the 1960s and 1970s, the educational sector expanded on a global scale. Demographics played just as important a role in this process as the transition from industrial to post-industrial society and the education arms race during the Cold War. Extensive reform programs engendered new architectures and learning environments around the world. However, these often progressively conceived of spatialities were also increasingly called into question – as were the cultures and institutions of education, architecture and science as such.

Colin Ward (1924–2010) was an anarchist and educator who, together withAnthony Fyson, was employed as education officer for the Town and CountryPlanning Association in the UK during the 1970s. He is best known for his two books about childhood, The Child in the City (1978) and The Child in the Country(1988). The book he co-authored with Fyson, Streetwork. TheExploding School (1973), is discussed here in relation to learning, power structures and possibility.

Catherine Burke is Emerita Professor of the History of Education. She is an historian currently researching cultural and material histories of educational contexts and of childhood in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Her research examines the relationship between innovation in teaching and the design of formal and informal learning environments; the view of the child and young person in the design of education; the history of 20th century school architecture and its pioneers. A major focus of the research is bringing an historical awareness to current initiatives to ‘transform’ education via school building renewal. She has published widely on the history of school architecture, the participation of children in the design of school, as well as on contemporary school architecture. For many years she was editor of the Sources and Interpretations section of History of Education Journal and is currently, with Professor Jane Martin of the University of Birmingham, joint series editor of the Routledge Progressive Education series.

Catherine’s book, A Life in Education and Architecture. Mary Beaumont Medd 1907-2005 published by Ashgate, won the History of Education Society UK Book prize.






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One Response to Colin Ward and anarchist educational concepts A lecture by Catherine Burke

    1. I never heard of the education arms race of the Cold War. Scientists were promoted by the Sov Union, like composers, dancers and athletes, but education felt more like indoctrination to a Sov world view, closing out, not competing with the Western world.

      Comment by Tracey Chh on 9 March, 2024 at 10:26 am

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