Re/assembling ‘innovative’ learning environments: Affective practice and its politics

Dianne Mulcahy, Carol Morrison
Vol 37, Number 1, p.8
In this article, we argue that the interest being taken by governments in establishing innovative learning environments (ILEs) in schools relies on a conception of space as a largely neutral arena. In consequence, relations of space and power inherent in the infrastructural shift to ILEs tend to drop from view. Adopting an assemblage approach to investigating learning environments, and exploring ILEs as they are playing out in Australian schools, we strive to surface what drops from view. Taking ILEs to be sociomaterial assemblages, we work with empirical material and trace how they assemble and reassemble. The account is less concerned with what works in ILEs; rather, its focus is on their ‘workings’ as assemblages of relations and most particularly, affective relations. Thus, we explore two affective encounters involving school leaders, teachers and studentsshowing the ways in which they position and are positioned within ILEs. The argument is made that the assemblage approach which is non-deterministic and relational affords new ways of understanding what ILEs are and how they work and who they work for. And, that attending to affective practice brings into view the micropolitics through which infrastructural shifts and infrastructural policy-making are made.