chapter  1
Changing spatial and social relations in education in Europe: Martin Lawn, Risto Rinne and Sotiria Grek
Pages 8

Most conventional thinking about education and its systems is bordered: boundaries of thought are not just disciplinary or customary; they are literally framed by spatial limits. ese limits are those of nation-state histories, language and vernacular customs. Researching across political borders in most contemporary comparative studies means exploring ‘other’ ways of understanding education, embedded within landscapes comprising histories of policy documents, law and legislation, accumulated commentaries and normative engagements. Education researchers produce habits of exclusion by which awkward knowledge, that is knowledge drawn from across borders, is isolated, pushed back or labelled exotic and esoteric. Specialists in crossborder knowledge, that is comparativists in education, do include awkward knowledge but are themselves excluded from the study and understanding of the national. Cross-border travellers are absentees; expert at crossing boundaries, their tales are excluded from an understanding of the bordered narrative of the research case. e commonality of concepts in education, often produced through a process of anglicisation (especially as publication in English has become so dominant), disguises the lack of consensus on their cultural meanings. e use of quality or accountability or ‘learning’, all key terms today, overlooks their lack of translation or univocal meaning across cultural contexts (Lawn 2001). Borders are crossed by new global or at least European members, bearing a new magic repertoire of words (Keeling 2006). New terms – knowledge society, quality assurance, knowledge economy, learning economy – while economising the language of education and signalling important, new directions, have to bear the weight of local incomprehension.