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".
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.