Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Power of Space

I was sitting in a learning community space on Friday afternoon chatting to a couple of our  leaders reflecting on the last couple of weeks. It was 90 minutes since school had “officially”  finished. 

In wandered a 15 year old boy, who grabbed a couple of pieces of bread from the ever present loaves sitting on the benches, popped them in one of the many toasters that fill the bench tops and then grabbed out some butter and jam- also always available- and made his toast, shared a few words with the teachers whom I was talking with, wished us all a good weekend and sauntered off.

Last week I wandered through  the same spot during learning time. A few different groups of kids were sitting in the space working. So were a few teachers who were in their scheduled non contact breaks. In one corner a teenage boy was making himself some toast to take back to his work and at the same time making a piece for a teacher, who he delivered it to, had a brief chat about what they were both working on and then both headed back into their own work.

The function of this space, set up in the middle of a larger open flexible learning community is quite incredible, and powerful. 

Anyone can use the facilities and ingredients to create something to eat whenever they feel they need to, not restricted to certain times.

Teachers and students sit there at break times and heat and eat lunch together. 

It works as a learning space, as a social space and as a meeting space.

Collective responsibility for keeping it tidy is gradually becoming the norm, rather than the  responsibility of one person or a specific group of people.

"Many learning spaces now resemble places of collegiality, intellectual intrigue and comfort, as opposed to the restrictive and monotonous classrooms many of us experienced in years past."

The teachers I was chatting with reflected that of all the space changes and re purposing of space we had done 6 weeks ago this space was probably the most significant and powerful.

It’s allowing teachers and students to build relationships in different ways- ways that are reflective of life outside of the traditional boundaries of school.

It has allowed two previously separately operating groups of teachers to come together and forge common connections. 

It’s taken away an artificial divide between students and teachers so carefully constructed over many years in our schooling system and is helping instill a new paradigm of learning together, of learning alongside each other, of all being learners together.

“Its not about creating learning for kids, it’s about discovering that leaning with them,” @ModernLearners 

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