Learning Environments A number of years ago I came across the book The School I’d Like, by Catherine Burke and Ian Grosvenor. 2001 the Guardian launched a competition called ‘the school I’d like’, in which young people were asked to imagine their ideal school Young people submitted essays, stories, poems, plays, pictures, films, photographs, models and plans In 1967 a completion had been run in the Observer asking young people to design the school of their dreams. What struck me was that the schools of imaginations and dreams did not differ very much from 1967 to 2001 (with the exception of technology) and yet very little had changed in 30 years…. Shall we make that 40? In 1967 there were almost 1,000 entries, in 2001 they received multiple entries from over 1,500 school and hundreds of individuals The young peoples’ responses were not only focused on learning environments, but also learning, teaching, equality, learning contexts, the curriculum, school structures, but for the purpose of this workshop… the book got me thinking about learning environments. Interestingly, the school environments they described tended to be open, round, clean, colourful, comfortable, with gardens and for some reason… domed glass ceilings The work and thinking that came out of my reading of their work ultimately led me to Prakash Nair and David Thornburg.
Prakash Nair If you look at write ups of Prakash Nair he is often described as a futurist, a visionary planner and an architect . I had the pleasure of working with him when he designed Porirua College a few years ago. I was on the design Advisory Group and provided advice to the school re how to transition from a traditional school to a new paradigm school. What you don’t want is teachers and students being picked up from one school and put in another without any new paradigm thinking and transitioning. They just revert back to teaching and learning the way that had in the traditional environment. They close doors, move furniture and recreate ‘cells and bells’ He designs new paradigm schools for the 21 st Century Connects school design to educational research 30 Strategies for Educational Improvement 25 Design Patterns Incorporates campfires, watering holes and cave spaces into the schools that he designs
David Thornburg Futurist, author and educator His research, writings and presentations focus on educational applications of technology Named by the ‘Technology and Learning’ magazine as one of the top ten most influential people in the field of educational technology Philosophy: students learn best when they are constructers of their own knowledge Central theme of his work: we must prepare students for their future, not for our past Primordial Learning Metaphor How and where people learn Thornburg’s primordial learning theory metaphor includes the campfire, the watering hole, the cave and life. Thornburg believes that these learning spaces are wired into our genetic makeup because they appear in all societies and are evident throughout history. He explains why each of these modalities is important in the overall scheme of learning: learning from others, learning from peers, learning from yourself and applying it in the real world.
Campfire Space In ancient times, and in some tribal cultures today. People gather around a campfire and share stories, pass down history and lessons for survival. Wisdom and culture were passed down through storytelling, songs and performance. Those that led the campfire sessions were often wisemen or women. The experts of society, those with mana and something valuable to share.
Tends to depict the more traditional model of education This type of teaching can get a bad rap, but not when it is done well. There is still a place for storytelling in education
Campfires can be motivating and inspiring Think about the great speeches of all time:
Abraham Lincoln - Gettysburg Address, 1863 Best Line : &quot;Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.&quot;
Martin Luther King, Jr – “I had a Dream”, 1963 “ I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of &quot;interposition&quot; and &quot;nullification&quot; -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
Think of examples of campfires in your life… share it with the person beside you How and where do you learn from an individual? Currently this is a campfire space
Watering Hole Space The watering hole was a place where members of a village or tribe would gather to share stories, news, gossip and information. Not only members of your own village but neighbouring villages. They were informal exchanges. Participants are both teachers and learners. Peer teaching was necessary for survival and cultural endurance. They are conversational spaces where people learn via discussions with peers. Some traditional schools actually discourage social interaction in school as a “distraction”. We now know that discourse and collaborative learning are critical to learning and social development. These so-called “soft” skills are actually at the top of the list of qualifications for success and almost any profession.
Think of examples of watering holes in your life… share it with the person beside you If you find this presentation interesting enough to discuss it when you go to lunch – that will be your watering hole
A cave, a mountainside, waterside. A space for contact with oneself. Places for individual study, reflection and creative flow. Conceptual spaces where learners go to make meaning out of all the information they have gained Flick through a few slides
Think of examples of cave spaces in your life… share it with the person beside you In the shower? In the garden? Life Life is where you bring it all together by applying what you learn to projects in the real world. Demonstrating what you have learned through application.
NTLTC 2011 Campfires, Watering holes and caves
Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves: Learning environments for the 21 st Century National Tertiary Learning and Teaching Conference Building Futures – Nelson, October 12-14 2011 Nicola Maw
<ul><li>What happens after any typical ‘story’ in class remains the business of the teacher. She will be measured not only by her ability to motivate, but by the level of effort her exhortations inspire. Take away the campfire, and you have suddenly weakened the teacher's hand considerably because without motivation, there is no engagement, and without engagement, there is no learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Prakash Nair </li></ul>