When change is implemented, it is important to question the research and rationale underpinning the change. Questioning particularly pertinent and important when the changes relate to the education of our students, your children.
Since the turn of the century, educators have struggled with how we ensure that our students are learning concepts and skills relevant to life and work in 21st century. Many of us have felt frustrated by the fact that, in spite of decades of dialogue, including the debate on the merits of the introduction of technology and digital devices to the classroom and the value of homework, we have not changed the way classrooms look and feel today. Classrooms are the same as they were in the 19th century when public formal schooling began in larger scale due to the increased demand for a skilled workforce during the industrial revolution.
In this last decade or so, educators began the process of disruptive innovation by changing the learning environment through the engagement of both teachers and students in designing their learning spaces so as to meet changing teaching and learning needs. However, these changing spaces will only generate changes in teaching and learning approaches, i.e. the pedagogy of the teachers, if they are viewed not merely as comfortable and modern learning spaces, but as agile, flexible, exciting and engaging learning places.
It was noted that space “shapes” social relations and practices within the classrooms. Learning is a socially interactive process. “Learning spaces mediate the relationship and social practices of teaching and learning, and are only one factor among many in the complex relationships of teaching that inform learning outcomes” (Blackmore, Bateman, O’Mare, Laughlin, 2016, p. 3). Consequently, researchers agree that “school environment includes social, cultural, temporal, physical (built and nature) aspects, as well as real and virtual environment” (Blackmore et al.,2016, p. 4). The learning spaces and built environment therefore “affect the physical wellbeing, affective, cognitive, and behavioural characteristics” of the students (Blackmore et al., 2006, p. 4).
As educators, we are charged with the responsibility to contribute positively in the creation of, not only conditions conducive for learning, but in ensuring that the curriculum program is cutting edge and responsive to contemporary research and practice. Researchers advocate that we focus on people and learning places, not just spaces, because place attachment and spatial identity are critical to learning; therefore, it is the notion of a place which frames interactive behaviours (Blackmore et al., 2006).
Across the world, educators are exploring best practice in responding to the technologically rich and changing world in educating our future leaders and citizens. New South Wales, our immediate state counterpart, has started the process of “innovative education, successful students” as their priority in creating these innovative learning places. See the link below for more information. Queenslanders cannot be left behind. We, at Trinity, are taking on this challenge along with other Queensland Lutheran schools in a well-researched and measured way to create meaningful, engaging and innovative learning places.
Blackmore, J., Bateman, D., O’Mara, J. and Laughlin, J. (2016). The connections between learning spaces and learning outcomes: people and learning places? Center of Research in Education Future and Innovation of Deakin University. Access via
Mrs Tsae Wong