This 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.