Sunday, June 26, 2011

Into the great wide open

What might the primary school classroom of the future look like?

Recent school developments in New Zealand have indicated that there is a move towards schools building more open environments for learners. There is talk of spaces being flexible, agile, multi-purpose, with breakout spaces and withdrawal rooms. But what difference does a space actually make and what are the implications for learners in these spaces? Will the spaces act as enablers that increase engagement, motivation and achievement? Will the spaces enable learning with tangible benefits in measurable outcomes? What too are the implications for teachers? What are the challenges and benefits for them? Schools with open spaces are one thing but are there changes in teacher practice required to make them work? Is there a link between pedagogy and space?

Six months out from embarking on a research masters thesis on the subject of pedagogy and classroom spaces, I have many ideas, hypotheses, and prospective lines of inquiry. This is a growing area of interest for me and one that school principals and boards are beginning to ask more questions about. It is certainly a contemporary and relevant area for inquiry. Sometimes though, with so many potential directions to follow, the hardest part is working out what question to ask. My intention therefore is to use this space to surface my thinking, reflect on readings and begin to ask and answer some of the tricky questions.

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