Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Design on Learning - Design for Learning

Moving beyond school design that is limited to removing walls between classrooms deserves some serious considerations.

How the spaces for learning are conceptualised requires some thinking about the possibilities in schools for learning in the 21st Century. So often those involved in the design process look at other schools which, more often than not, are bounded by existing concepts of school and schooling.

What if …

  • Our concept of school was bounded by a view of the school as a studio rather than the factory?

  • Those involved in the design process visited other sites of learning, such as museums, art galleries, workshops, studios and kept away from schools?

  • Students were actively engaged in the design process and conceptualising what spaces designed for learning might look like?

  • Our school sites were conceptualised as villages of learning?

  • Students worked with designers in exploring the challenges of designing spaces, developing concepts and engaging in following-up on the development of the learning spaces?

Some interesting work has been occurring in England by the Sorrell Foundation through a project called joinedupdesignforschools.

These following links from TeacherTV are worth checking out.

Series on joinedupdesignforschools

This series features six schools which have successfully participated in the Joinedupdesignforschools project. Pupils have the major say in how an aspect of their school's environment is improved.
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Video: joinedupdesignforschools - a place to chill

Architect Phin Manasseh works with pupils at Mounts Bay School in Cornwall to create an inspirational space with a social purpose but where learning takes place too.

Involving pupils in this way is a key part of the Joinedupdesignforschools project.
The brainchild of The Sorrell Foundation, the project gives pupils a major say in how an aspect of their school's environment is improved. The pupils are the clients, briefing designers who produce designs for their approval.

Phin Manasseh spoke of the success of the project. He said: "If all clients were like this, we?d have very different results."

The Joinedupdesignforschools project follows a four stage pattern:

  • The challenge
  • The brief
  • The conversation
  • The concept

A follow-up then looks at the school's success in finding the money to turn the creative designs into reality.
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Gareth Long said...

Equally the work by Randy Fielding and Prakash Nair of Fielding Nair International is really worth considering.

FNI are amongst the most inspirational forward thinkers in the design of learning spaces all round the world from the UK, New Zealand, Thailand, India, the States right through to the Cayman Islands.

Working with them in the Cayman Islands has really helped us as we build a number of fantastic real 21st century learning environments that will revolutionise our education experience for young people. The designs are being viewed all round the world as I write. Their website is:

With designers like these, the way is truely exciting for education - the losers wil be students in areas where those who make descisions are not brave enough to accept that change in how we teach is inevitable.

Andrew said...

Thanks for your comment Gareth. I'll follow your work in the Caymans.

I agree with you that the losers will be the students in those areas where decision-makers are not brave enough to accept change not jut in how we teach, but how the spaces support learning.

Had a quiet smile about your post on your blog about toilets and how much attention they can demand!

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