You may have seen an item on TV1’s ‘Seven Sharp’ show earlier this week, which looked at open plan hub learning environments. You can view the story here.
Obviously, as an innovative learning environment (ILE), we are strong advocates for the way teaching and learning happens in these kinds of environments. However, even more, we are aware that teaching and learning in ILEs is just as likely to be as different from each other as it is between more traditional schools and ILEs (or even between traditional schools themselves). It simply isn’t helpful to make blanket assumptions about how certain types of schools operate or to turn the argument into a binary of traditional schools versus Innovative Learning Environments. Sadly, this impacts the ability to find the common ground that would move education forward in New Zealand.
Thinking back to the comments made by senior secondary school principals in the Sunday Star Times several years ago, it is disappointing to see that the discussion around ILEs has not become more informed and more open in the intervening time. Some views were expressed that simply cannot not be justified. The point of ILEs is to create a one-size-fits-ONE experience of teaching and learning for students. The purpose of more open, flexible architecture is to enable a more personalised response and for students themselves to be able to create/find the space they need that best meets their learning needs. Contrary to the initial opinions expressed in the Seven Sharp article, a well-designed and purposed open plan hub creates a highly engaged, rich learning environment - and this is backed up by Ministry of Education policy and emerging research. You can click here for some of the latest research on ILEs. Also a link to the Ministry of Education’s website on ILEs.
We remain committed to being an innovative learning environment and we are proud of the fact that, along with others, we are influencing the development of educational thinking around New Zealand and the world. However, articles like the Seven Sharp one are a distraction. We want to remain focused on what is our biggest goal and greatest challenge – ensuring that we meet the needs of EVERY SINGLE STUDENT. This is a much bigger challenge than I realised when we started out. But it is a challenge that is absolutely worth persevering with.
For those of you who weren’t here then, here is a link to my response to the Sunday Star Times article.
Please do make an appointment with me if you would like to discuss this further with me.