The Nature of Education in an Open-Plan School: A contextualized account
The physical environment of schools has undergone a number of changes in recent years. Along with the increasing integration of digital technology in classrooms, schools today are being designed and constructed with fewer walls — opening classroom spaces with the intention of enhancing collaboration and student-centered teaching practice. This open-plan school design is predicated on a short-lived school design movement that emerged in the 1960s in North America. A multitude of challenges led to the eventual abandonment of this design. Today, optimistic school designers suggest technology and evolving teaching practices will allow for the success of open-plan schools. In addition, architects are including purpose-built specialty rooms (also known as flexible-use spaces, or sometimes makerspaces) that can be customized by the educators who use them. The purpose of this study is to characterize the contextual nature of teaching and learning in one newly constructed open-plan school so that recommendations can be provided about next steps in developing uses for these flexible-use rooms. A case study approach was taken and field observations, interviews with teachers, and focus groups with students from a Grade 3–5 community and a Grade 6–8 community were collected in this open-plan school. The three central questions that guided this exploration were: (1) What is the nature of teaching and learning taking place in this open-plan school? (2) What pedagogy do teachers enact in this open-plan school? (3) What pedagogical challenges exist in this open-plan school? The findings suggest the need for the careful consideration of teacher collaboration, student empowerment, the ongoing experimental nature of teaching practice, and the tensions that exist between progressive teaching practices and more traditional educational methods when designing uses for the flexible-use spaces that are being built into similar open-plan schools.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/26163
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