06 SES 16, The Tried and Trusted or Designing for Innovation? Risks, Benefits and Participation in Developing Innovative + Flexible Educational Facilities Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 06 SES 17
Since 2011, the New Zealand Ministry of Education has promoted radical new school building designs country-wide, believing these create the conditions for developing pedagogy suited to the development of ‘21st century learners’ (Ministry of Education, 2011; 2017). Arguably, this is a high-risk strategy, given the high cost of this infrastructure, and the likelihood of parents rejecting these open-plan learning areas for their children. The architects commissioned to design these new facilities, could suggest the tried and trusted, but propose bold new plans and designs that they too believe will support new pedagogical styles, while also regarding these to be inspiring facilities that encourage more ambitious thinking in the minds of young New Zealanders, and contributing to positive citizenship traits. Predictably, however, some parents regard these new buildings (and associated pedagogies) as needlessly experimental, placing the needs and education of their children at risk. These manifestations of risk in education policy are analysed in a current study of human participation in the development of Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) and Flexible Learning Spaces (FLS) in New Zealand. The first stage of this study gathers data from policy and document analysis, interviews with parents/caregivers who currently have, or recently have had, children in flexible learning spaces, and architects who have designed such facilities. This study recognises that experiences of participation will be variable across stakeholders. For parents/caregivers, at best, participation is not always possible, or, at worst, is intentionally not sought, or is actively neglected. Consequently, parents/caregivers may feel marginalised and compelled to accept changes to facilities and/or pedagogical and learning practice they regard as negatively impactful on their children, and to have been adopted without any research-based evidence (Eder, 2018). Furthermore, some believe that architects are driving the changes in facilities design in education. This study gives voice to parents/caregivers and architects, both under-represented in educational research on new learning environments, thus contributing to a transformative educational research agenda. It is a qualitative study, underpinned by a critical theoretic analysis of power and policy, and informed by a Lefebvrian (Lefebvre, 1991) theoretic view of space as socially produced by human practices. The interview data utilised in this presentation has been analysed thematically and inductively. The outcome of the research will be deeper understanding and knowledge, contributing to fill a present gap in learning environments research in New Zealand.
Eder, J. (2018, May 2). 'My child is not a guinea pig': Parents want proof 'experimental' classrooms work. The Marlborough Expess. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/101994384/my-child-is-not-a-guinea-pig-parents-want-proof-experimental-classrooms-work Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. (D. Nicholson-Smith, trans.). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Ministry of Education [MOE]. (2011). The New Zealand school property strategy 2011–2021. Retrieved from http://gdsindexnz.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-New-Zealand-School-Property-Strategy-2011-2021.pdf Ministry of Education [MOE]. (2017). Designing quality learning spaces. Retrieved 25 Jan 2019 from http://www.education.govt.nz/school/property/state-schools/design-standards/flexible-learning-spaces/designing-quality-learning-spaces/
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