Creating learning environments

Let’s just hope that with $500 million allocated today in the Victorian state budget to ‘build or refurbish hundreds of government schools’ (AGE today) that someone takes a moment to consider the KIND of buildings we should be building to foster learning.

I’m not hopeful; I blogged back on my old blog in December 2004 on an article called Schools our Kids would Build which included:

Comfort, privacy, space for social activity and rest, and colorful, softly textured inviting interiors are called for by countless numbers of participants in the 2001 archive.

Many children are still compelled to attend school buildings designed and built half-a-century ago. Distressed about the poor state of the fabric of their schools, most want more space and recognize the limitations of school design in relation to inclusive school policies.

Young people in special schools who have difficulty just getting around the inadequately designed school spaces take the opportunity to recommend change. Some argue convincingly that if the overall appearance of the school were improved then children would be more likely to want to attend.

What emerges from the material is evidence that children have the capacity to examine critically the normal and everyday spaces in which they learn and can articulate their future in previously unimagined ways. They want to feel proud of the school to which they belong but many feel embarrassed by their surroundings.

The extracts show how clearly children regard the built environment as “the third teacher.” To listen to these voices, past and present, is instructive to all educators, architects, designers, and policy makers who have responsibility for conceiving and constructing the spaces for learning which children inhabit

I’ve also heard educational architect Andrew Bunting from Architectus talk passionately about the value and virture of design in learning spaces. If kids know it, and experts know it, how come we see it so rarely in schools? Maybe its money? Well, here’s $500million. Let’s see some exciting design in classrooms.

POSTCRIPT: I’ve added a flyer about a forthcoming ACEL Conference on School Design

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