Monday, 26 September 2011

Learning from Demolition - what happens next?

I am currently working with a school that is, literally, watching some of it's buildings being demolished through the windows. Already there is total amazement from students (and staff!) about how gently and controlled the machinery is undertaking this task. Their visions of a massive arm (or ball and chain) smashing through walls are far from the truth.

They are all riveted watching the jaws of the machine grabbing different elements of the building, down to single small strips of lead, and placing them in a variety of piles for sorting and recycling. It has started all sorts of conversations about what happens to it, where does it go, why and how is it different from what used to happen? Additionally of course, this type of work is quite skilled, so training and experience are obvious questions to be answered.
Last time I visited the surveyors had also arrived. The staff were wondering what they actually did. - it was a bit like a whole mysterious world taking place the other side of the hoardings
In many schools, because staff don't know much about this construction world, sensible questioning by students gets stopped and not explored with cries of "Get on with your work!" and "stop looking out of the window!".. When this happens it is such a mistake - there is so much to learn and so many direct links with the school curriculum in many subjects that give context, relevance and interest. (I accept that obviously there are times when it is appropriate!)
Equally many schools with construction projects directly adjacent to the school have great intentions, rarely do they actually do enough about it or plan it early enough so opportunities are missed. In the case of demolition, when the building is down -it's gone, can't be replicated and a whole tranche of skills have been lost as well. Conversations become less relevant.
The intention here is excellent, the opportunities great and enthusiasm high between the school and construction leads. Watch this place for more information later...

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