Monday, September 19, 2011

Funky School

The videos accompany an article that cropped up in The Australian recently. It describes the so called ‘renaissance’ in Australian education resulting from the massive investment in facilities, in every school, as part of the Government’s Building the Education Revolution (BER) strategy.

Many schools have opted to spend their money creating flexible or open learning spaces, housing between 80 and 200 children and four to six teachers, and author Caroline Overington raises the question as to whether this is money well spent. She suggests that despite all the rhetoric spoken in praise of the new buildings there’s little evidence to suggest that a child learning in an agile learning space is going to do any better than in a traditional classroom. And she’s got a point. This is a common argument in the field of modern learning environments.

Overington presents a fairly critical piece, particularly on the subject of how the new schools have been rolled out. She reminds us once again that the walls have been down before, that there’s not much evidence supporting agile spaces and that some teachers and parents simply don’t like them. Overington has done her research, quoting John Hattie, Jillian Blackmore, Greg Whitby and Elizabeth Hartnell-Young in the piece.

The videos here tell part of the story and the article is worth a read too. The concerns that Overington voices are no doubt ones shared by parents and teachers and it's as well for teachers working in these spaces to be aware of them.  It is perhaps a timely reminder too that we need to start gathering research on the subject. 

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