Panel j.04 — Educational Futures of Small and Rural Schools

Convenors Paolo Landri (CNR IRPPS, Italy); Giuseppina Mangione (INDIRE Italy)

Keywords Educational Futures, Futures of Education, Small and Rural School, Territoriality


Temporality and its conceptions constitute a fundamental dimension of educational discourse, policy, and practices. More specifically, education is often and ubiquitously put in relation to a specific kind of temporality, i.e., the future and ideas about possible and/or (un)desirable futures (e.g., Arendt, 1954). While (the concept of) future is often put in relation to education in rhetorical, tokenistic, or even instrumental ways, there are indeed different aspects of this bond that have been recognized and analyzed from diverse ontological and epistemological perspectives.

For instance, we may think about how education will look like in the future, how it concurs in building the future or how it prepares teachers and students for the future, on the other hand, we may invert the relationship and ask ourselves how ideas and attitudes towards the future affect educational thinking, practices, and policies today.

Here, for instance, ideas about technology and their role in future societal settings – so called sociotechnical imageries (Jasanoff and Kim, 2013) – inform and define present discourses, practices and polices pertaining to education – such as, for instance, digitalization and datafication (Landri, 2018). As Facer (2021) summarizes, in the educational sector ‘the future’ can be subject to many diverse activities following heterogeneous aims: prediction, imagination, speculation, preparation, critique, emancipation, suspension, reflection and even repair. These activities, and the effects they induce upon present and future schooling, also depend upon which actors , interests, and generations participate in the construction of specific ideas, attitudes and conceptions of the future.

In this panel, we are interested in discussing and confronting educational futures (and of futures in education) of small and rural schools, “non standard educational context” characterized by remoteness and isolation (Mangione et al. 2023; Mangione and Cannella, 2021). Education and educational practices are always embedded within broader territorial systems that define geographically specific needs, desires, constrains and “grammars” of school. (Boix et al., 2015). Small and rural schools (SRS) have specific features, needs, and grammars of school when compared with bigger schools in urban areas, for instance in what regards student numerousness and heterogeneity, classroom organization or the integration with other territorial actors and institutions.

To foster and enrich the international debate revolving around future and education in relation to specific territorialities (OECD, 2020; UNESCO 2021) here we call for theoretical, methodological and empirical elaborations considering how SRS deal with futures and the future. Basing on this aim, we welcome contributions related (but not limited to) to the following issues:

– Variations in ideas of future in schooling systems located in different geographical areas

– Territorial specificities of educational settings and the way these influence how futures are predicted, prepared and envisioned

– Methodologies to inquiry the way futures are envisioned and prepared in SRS

– The vision of future upon which SRS organize their present actions and strategies.

– The way specific aspects of imagined futures (technological change, geopolitical instability, climate change, …) influence SRS and their conception of the future


Guidelines and abstracts submission