Christian Long was the final keynote for the CEFPI conference. He was such an inspirational speaker. Below are some TEDx talks that he has done - Empowering Learners to Redesign the Classroom and Reimagining Students as agents of change. Worth a watch!
At the conference, Christian's topic was "Designing Agile Learning Ecologies for Complex Futures." Christian discussed how we have the privilege of "disrupting" because of our time in education. School's hadn't fundamentally changed in over a century, yet the rapid introduction of technology has enabled us to be part of a new future. His advice? Don't react - EMBRACE! His question? How do we disrupt and transform with PURPOSE?
Christian challenged us to be brave enough to build the schools that will serve our students. He encouraged the audience to think of a different design pattern. By developing effective pedagogies, we can then create schools to match. Don't start with the school.
Christian is part of a forward thinking organisation, The Third Teacher +. You can also find them on facebook and twitter. The book, "The Third Teacher," is a must read for those who are interested in environments and education.
I have seen Dr Julia Atkin speak several times, and always leave with my brain buzzing. Her keynote at the conference was no different. Julia discussed how the disruption caused by natural disasters around the world, leaves us with an obligation to create something better. Transformation doesn't occur without disruption, not just disruption to our physical environment, but also disruption with our thinking.
When developing new learning environments, teachers and designers are battling their own upbringings. We are struggling to develop clarity for a new way of seeing things. School design has changed little in the past hundred years. It is easy for us to go "back to what we know" and struggle to imagine new futures or ways of doing things.
Julia reiterated that piloting and trialling of ideas is extremely important. Time and energy is required for teacher change.
Julia encouraged the audience to foster innovation and listen to student voice. Innovation has to make things better. This will lead to unexpected and startling results. She urged us to disrupt entrenched pattern and prevent the domestication of innovation.
Design needs to reflect the nature of learners and the nature of learning. We need to constantly ask ourselves; "What is exemplary practice?", "What do we believe about learning?" Collaboration will be the key to creating better learning environments for everyone.
Julia challenged the use of the term "Modern Learning Environment" , urging us to not get sidetracked by the word "Modern". Not everyone will get a new school building, but everyone can make changes to create "Better Learning Environments".
Stephen Harris is the principal of Northern Beaches Christian School and director of the Sydney Centre for Learning Innovation, in New South Wales, Australia. The topic of his keynote was, "Factories No More: They key role design and furniture has in enabling teachers to change pedagogy." Stephen discussed how education innovation breaks through disengagement and re-engages students into learning.
His keynote was thought provoking and challenged the audience's preconceptions and ideas.
The important ideas that will stay with me from this presentation are:
School buildings will probably be out of date in twenty years.
Architects should not draw furniture on their plans. This starts to set the pedagogy.
Key questions for learning spaces - "How do I learn?","How do I want to learn?", "Where do I want to learn?"
What implications does mobile technology have for education? How do you keep technology as the pedagogic tool, not the driver?
How will economies affect learning? For example, will it be feasible to maintain and operate educational facilities like universities at the current level we have now?
We need to unlearn and relearn pedagogic design. We need to disrupt our mental models, or teachers will revert to what they have always done, not relearn.
The end product of education has to have a purpose. This could be social cohesion, community development or job creation. This means our designs need to have purpose and meaning, be future oriented, sustainable and allow for growth.
School designs need to be agile, perpetual blank canvases, that can be continually reconfigured.
There are buildings less than ten years old, that are already requiring modifications and alterations to meet purpose. How can we minimise this?
Stephen had some recommended reading for educators:
Check out "
Michael Barber discusses his essay, "Oceans of Innovation" about the rise of the Asia Pacific region. (Available free from Amazon.)
The 13th Annual CEFPI (Council of Educational Facilities Planners International) was held for the first time in New Zealand this year. A mix of architects, planners, teachers, principals and government officials, this was an amazing opportunity to participate and learn about the future direction of teaching and learning. There were amazing speakers each day, workshops and site visits to schools around Auckland.
The theme of the conference was "Disruption" and this theme was a cohesive link throughout the whole conference. Whether it was disruption because of natural disasters such as the Canterbury Earthquake or Australian bush fires, or disrupting your thinking about school design, environments, teaching and learning, the theme was prevalent, challenging you to innovate and be part of the future.
It was great to meet people who were not just teachers! It was so interesting to hear their thoughts and how they see education and learning spaces. Now to start making sense of my notes and sharing the main messages from the conference.
Wondering: Research shows that you can't just build a new learning space and expect changes to pedagogy without significant teacher development. ((Temple, 2007; Higgins et al., 2005; DEECD, 2008; Fisher, 2002). Yet it is difficult for teachers to be involved in a design process, as they have to break out of what is known and imagine new futures. By default, we go back to what we know. How can educationalists and designers work together in effective, efficient ways to create better learning environments for all learners?
The opening keynote for the conference was presented by Mike Anderson, Principal of Waimairi School and John Leonard, Principal of Freeville School, both located in Christchurch. They described the aftermath of the February Earthquake, which devasted Christchurch and changed it forever.
It was a harrowing journey that they took us on, describing panic and students and communities who were broken. Throughout this, staff remained calm and the schools became a focal point for the community.
Although both schools still face some uncertainty with rebuilding projects and the possibility of merger, Mike and John had several key messages.
Schools and communities need to feel ownership over decisions about their school.
They don't want repairs, they want transformation.
New buildings should match effective pedagogy.
Staff, students and the community should have input into new school design.
Mark Treadwell also added to these ideas in a later keynote: "In times of change, we have huge opportunities for innovation. Risk taking is risky, but no risk taking is catastrophic. Buildings need to be in sync with learning."
John discussed how a key change for his school had been the redefining of what a community is and where schools sit in the community. In the days and weeks after the earthquake, schools provided a community space, a return to normality and a place for people to meet and support each other.
"Ka pu te ruha ka hao te rangatahi"
As an old net withers, another is remade.
Kia Kaha Christchurch.
What is the most effective way for government, schools, communities and stake holders to work together to create an amazing future for education in our area? How can we ensure that innovate and transform, rather than rebuild?
Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister for Education, welcomed delegates to the conference. During her speech, she discussed:
How the theme of "disruption" is so relevant world wide.
The changing nature of education. This change is not just the physical environment.
How innovation will be required to meet the educational needs of the future.
Ways in which the government will contribute - significant investment in building, high speed internet and online environments.
The provision of equitable opportunities for all.
The development of appropriate learning environments for communities and the need for communities to be involved and have ownership.
How students can be involved in the design process and decision making.
Safety challenges - both physical and online.
Raising the profile of digital literacy and online environments.
The Ministry of Education is certainly facing interesting times, with the Canterbury rebuild, intensification in Auckland and the movement of our population due to these factors. Nikki's key message was that our learning environments need to be flexible, connected spaces that inspire, as schools are the centre of our community.
You can read Nikki's complete speech here.
My name is Ngaire Shepherd-Wills. This website is a record of my TeachNZ sabbatical, Term 2, 2013 and then I have continued to share my wonderings and discoveries about Innovative Learning Practices. I now work for CORE Education. Views are my own.