The readings I have been looking at this week (post Telstra disaster!) have provided some food for thought for the learning spaces we are to inhabit in the future.
Previous generations, as well as our own, have left a legacy of toxicity and formality that we may long struggle to overcome.
A huge issue today in school is asbestos. Schools that were thought to be asbestos free are suddenly finding that this is not the case and are having to go through expensive, time consuming and educationally disruptive cleansing programmes to have it removed. We must start to ask if we can ever be really sure that it is all gone!
A solution might be to completely demolish the site and construct a new learning space after the removal of all traces of the asbestos. Many teachers would relish the thought of being able to design their own learning space for the requirements of education now and into the future.
Some things to think about in the redesign of schools may be the changing demographics of the school community. The needs of migrant children may be totally different to those of the mainstream class. The schools in the “boom and bust” towns will also alter.
In urban areas schools already lack critical space and in the future this will only increase as urbanisation increases. Playgrounds will be replaced with classrooms leaving schools little option except to go up. In Asia I have seen schools that occupy top floors of shopping malls and high-rise buildings. The play/garden space solution in these instances is the roof.
We can see isolated schools with falling student populations have greater connections to school of the air types of education, using online methods to accomplish their learning. Yet we need to have a failsafe/backup system as well. I experienced this myself in the past 2 weeks. I live in a quite isolated are with almost no mobile phone signal and no car. Telstra was doing some line work and accidentally cut the cable to our house leaving us phone-less and internet-less for the duration. My connection to the outside world was gone. Luckily, Telstra was able to fix the damage, but not until almost 2 weeks had passed.
In a previous incarnation as a teacher in a remote school I was part of a team that set up an Access programme to enable students in small and remote schools the opportunity to obtain their HSC using innovative technology. The programme is still running and through the upgrading of technology continues to offer many and varied course opportunities for those remote students wanting to obtain their HSC.
If Australia had a sudden shift in politics and suddenly took in many new migrants/refugees, a number of schools would be under pressure to suddenly provide the children with an education. Learning space would be needed for this until the students’ level of English would enable them to function in a mainstream class.
So many factors are involved in classroom redesign.