A Future “Generating Knowledge” Space Design Brief

All Working TogetherThis is a reflection I have visited so often lately, that is, to brief a future learning space. One that will keep up with changes socially, environmentally and technically. And the more I reflect on this the more “dense” and “thickened” my ideas become. To the point that I no longer felt I had a clear vision.

What would be needed in a future learning space in the outback is on a completely different level and purpose to the city. What would be needed if the world resources continue to dive is not “predictable” in just one area as education as so much is affected by it.

Then this morning I realised that no matter how many times I scribed my thoughts on paper, on the computer, in my eyes there is no “crystal ball”, no solution, no correct answer. It was all about current research, current ideas and future perceptions.

As in my previous post “My Head Hurts” I thought about all the aspects of learning spaces that I should consider in my design. Vegetable gardens, chooks, asbestos, migrants technology. How do they all come together? Are we going to have “electronic chooks” in our future learning space?

And the thoughts started to flow in a different direction and that is of collaboration.

The school learning space is a “generating knowledge” space (Adam Staples, 2013). So I looked up “generate” and  the definition implies “energy created”…this is nice, so far.

It also defines it as to “cause something to arise or come about“…even better. So I am trying to design a learning space which will “create an energy which will cause something to arise or come about”. Okay, my vision is starting to “de-thicken” or “de-dense” if you life.

And to design one of the future I went back into the past and the present.

Schools have been for a very long time an institution which separates the school stakeholders from the planning and decision making process of what children can and will learn. Take for example parents as stakeholders.

In practise at my “old teaching school” we invite parents, major stakeholders in their children’s education, at the beginning of the school year and “tell them” what their children will do in the class and what they will learn. Sending them off with one A4 piece of paper “dictating” the layout of “things to come” for their child’s academic year. End of discussion till any problems arise with their child.

What have we been doing for so long?

What have we missed out on for so long?

Why do we hold the “expertise of learning” purely in the hands of teachers?

That is not to say that teachers haven’t or shouldn’t be “instigators of education”. In fact, the role of the teacher is and will always remain crucial and leading in its merits. But my thinking is now starting to “loosen the noose” around the teacher’s neck and allow for more collaboration in the future learning space.

Imagine this… one large room, perhaps local community hall. Many teachers, parents, local members of parliament / politicians, aboriginal community, migrant workers, scientists, environmentalists, town planners, business people and so on. A “collage” of the local community. Lots of “What would you like to see taught in schools?” would be discussions buzzing around the room. And when decisions on what are made, then “How can we make this happen?”  “would be questions generated” next. In which ways can we make this happen?

This would be the vision of new curriculum discussion, new means of assessment,  and most importantly, new ways to manage how schools operate.

So far, is my future learning space ” creating an energy which will cause something to arise or come about” ? I would say at this stage this idea of community collaboration very much is defining a learning space of the future.

One author who has examined this notion was the inspirational and  visionary educator Hedley Beare in the book “Creating the Future School“. Beare, who had a vital role in instigating education systems among indigenious communities, recognises that schools need to keep up with change but to do that there needs to be collaboration of many community based stakeholders. It wasn’t just about futuristic furniture or vegetable patches. Their existence had to be reasoned through collaboration.

It is this point that I am coming to the realisation that many factors need to be examined and discussed  eg sustainability in the local and global areas, as well as use of current technology, and to do this it is much more productive to make our “future generated knowledge” learning space one which opens its doors to the experiences, expertise, expectations and offerings of many who would stake claim on the results of the child’s learning.

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6 Comments

Filed under 21st Century Learning, Classroom Designs, Communities of Practice, Curriculum, Hedley Beare, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces

6 responses to “A Future “Generating Knowledge” Space Design Brief

  1. So great to read your thinking processes on this topic. I too think that somehow collaborating with community is the way to go. How it looks? Yes, this takes a lot more thinking. The school links with communities of practice is how I’m thinking about it. Perhaps this is what you mean too. Anyway, I feel as if It might be important to distinguish the community links as CoP’s. I guess I mean versus simply asking opinions or input from various individual s in community roles.

    Even as I write this I’m not certain what I’m trying to say! Just that perhaps there is a ‘level’ ( for want of a better word) of community where there is ‘practice’ and there is another level where there is an interest in ‘more of the same’. I refer to the point about ‘generating knowledge’ when I say I want to think about a learning space where the ‘community’ is interested in ‘generating knowledge’ too, so CoP’s.

    I have a vision of schools being places of generating NEW thinking. That the student’s minds are encouraged to be this way from an early age, where their thoughts are valued and respected and the students voices are heard within the community. A higher visibility of schools in all areas of the community. Yes, students are learning but aren’t we all? School students are the new generations always bringing a fresh perspective.

    I just thought then…maybe ‘community’ is more like ‘communities’. I know when think of the word ‘community’ it seems a bit one dimensional in my mind. As if there is a single homogenous ‘group’ of people out there. What is ‘community’ in this conversation? So, maybe for me anyway, to think of ‘communities’, plural, reminds me that there are many groups interacting in dynamic ways.

    To summarise this thought I think what I mean is this. If you have schools where the culture is about generating new knowledge and this new knowledge is ‘fed’ by CoP’s ( where new knowledge is a goal also), then you have a society where ‘critical thinking’ is more a matter of course.

  2. Excellent point about involving community into school. I am even thinking of having areas for finance, a nurse, a counsellor, a place for parents to involve themselves in the classroom
    As a teacher, I am feeling a bit selfish in my design concept (which keeps changing!), as I am trying to incorporate aspects that show the kind of classroom I would like to work in.
    I think, as educators, we need to find a balance between the child and ourselves as professionals to agree on spaces which are conducive for learning, but also places where we can provide the best opportunities for learning.
    The idea of future learning is that unknown entity and what is current research today can be old-school and out of date before we know it! Although it is challenging, I am enjoying thinking about the possibilities which might be available in 2063.
    Mel

    • fin

      HI Mel, thanks for your reply. I am glad, you too, are enjoying the challenge. Sometimes, I feel like “trying to work out the answer” is more productive then “finding the answer”. I am really keen to view other students’ “Future learning spaces”.
      You idea of including specific roles in the school sadly always comes down to funding. I remember when I was teaching at my last teaching post we were only allocated so many hours for a counsellor because we were a small school. We had to prioritise “counselling needs”.
      I will look forward to viewing your own collection of thoughts on this aspect of our learning.

    • fin

      Mel, I celebrate your comment “challenging…but thinking about the possibilities that may be available in 2063″…still can’t get my head around many things

  3. Hi Rita,
    great thinking! It is hard to predict where the future will take us. I am sure robotics will play a part, major research is being done at the Institute of Technology in Massachusetts where work between neuroscience and computer science is occurring to mimic processes in the human brain so that robots will have ‘real’ emotions… but not sure about electronic chickens. What would the eggs taste like??
    Greg Whitby has said that school is about relationship, community, connectivity and access. It is very much about opening up the school and not isolating it from the rest of the community, closing the doors at 3.00pm and on weekends.
    We have a classroom system when we could have a community system.
    Technology is making the world smaller and is driving rapid change.
    Schools have to prepare children for an increasingly global world but need to work with stakeholders who were educated prior to the technological revolution and so may have a local or community outlook. I liked Beare’s point about collaboration of many stakeholders and reasoning through collaboration. Perhaps teachers need to take a role in educating the community.
    Jennie

  4. When reading all your posts, I was reminded of the EATSIPS reading about embedding aboriginal perspectives in the school.
    It is a great example of what is possible when Whitby’s definition of a school is taken seriously- relationship, community, connectivity and access.
    I was struck by the notion they had of informing and drawing on the local community.
    For these perspectives to work properly,the community and school need to work together to maximise the benefits of EATSIPS.
    A ‘community system, not a classroom system’ as Jennie has put it, where what is important knowledge in the local community is reflected in what is taught in the school.
    A bit of an aside but I saw the parallels!
    Nuala

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