Thursday, 10 February 2011

Not being so brave...

It has been disappointing to watch the recent debate in the Cayman Islands, with the current administration trying to partly undo the work we did in trying to design and build world class learning environments. It seems that walls are being added in some agile learning areas, before they have even finished building the campuses, let alone occupied and used. A large group of people, including me, put considerable work into the concept and design processes. It is has been the result of a big media focus recently, involving the former Minister of Education; Alden McLaughlin who fought for these schools, world renowned education visionary Professor Stephen Heppell and Prakash Nair all joining in.

The original concept designs by Prakash Nair, one of the world leading schools designers, featured a series of agile but connected learning spaces, in a' schools within school' model. The designs, featured around the world in media, books and conferences, won significant praise and admiration - they were world leading concepts for for Third Millennium students.
Following a range of issues, and some subsequent delay in construction, other countries have now 'overtaken' Cayman in school design terms, but they were still going to be fantastic venues. By installing walls to make a series of small contained spaces much of the vision is being undone.
Students do want to learn in a wide variety of ways, many staff want to be undertake a range of pedagogical approaches depending on the specific activity. The designed spaces allowed for all these things to happen.
The key to achieve all this is through robust and ongoing professional development of staff and students as a matter of course, but certainly long before they enter new buildings. The absolute wisest schools are those that are constantly reevaluating and developing teaching strategies. Without this, of course there would be challenges, doing nothing different will lead to even more!
Undoing something that was being admired around the world before it even starts is just, frankly, a bizarre and disappointing decision.
To read the story and watch the video click here.

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