Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

School design : the new design partnership


The received wisdom is that architects design spaces and teachers teach in classrooms, and never the twain shall meet - until now. The author explains why there is a new design partnership. The model for designing and building learning spaces has not changed much in 100 years. Despite significant shifts in pedagogy and a desire to incorporate technology, architects are typically still using the same industrial systems to deliver learning spaces. With all this change, though, new designs for learning spaces are being developed, which become potential prototypes, and herein lies a new danger: in a lack of understanding about how these spaces were designed and evaluated, which often leads to spaces being copied out of their context and without any regard to how a space may have related to the particular pedagogy it was designed for, or whether the technology was appropriately assigned. Learning spaces may be broken down simplistically into two distinct types: spaces where learning is structured or teacher-led, and spaces where learning is unstructured, peer-to-peer, social or self-directed. While it is a simplistic framework, it does enable one to look at an institution as a whole rather than as though it is made up of a series of learning silos. Looking at an institution as a whole lets one see space as a highly connected network of places for learning in which every square metre has the potential to support the learning process, and so every coffee shop, every corridor, every courtyard is part of the learning environment. Good learning spaces do not just reflect a particular pedagogy in a particular place but also acknowledge the context in which that pedagogy operates. That is true of the development at Brisbane Grammar School, which addresses the way pedagogy is influenced by thinking processes and dispositions, and by the literacy, numeracy, social, emotional and personal development of boys. [Author abstract, ed]

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