Students in Sydney’s North Shore government schools are overcrowded. The solution seems to be a simple mathematical equation. If we need to accommodate 360 more students , we need to form 12 classes and then find 12 classrooms in which to house them:
360 ÷ 30 = 12. Simple.
Presumably, it also means that every student needs a desk and chair – usually two children to a desk. So 180 desks and 360 chairs will be needed. In all, a basic procurement formula will be applied. When you have the one of the largest education systems in the world, as we do in NSW, the formulas just seem to be universally applied.
It’s time to think differently. Maybe a different model would also have cost-saving advantages?
When facing a challenge like this one, we also face an opportunity:
Maintain the status quo
Disrupt the status quo
Governments seem less enamoured with disruption, so they seek to maintain, after all, there is a formula. This is an opportunity lost.
one: never more than three walls
two: no fewer than three focal points
three: always able to accommodate at least three teachers, three classes
(*for the record, IWBs, in my opinion, maintain the status quo, just a bit sparklier)
Let’s look at the maths again – 360 students in three classes would look like this:
360 ÷ 120 = 3
If I were the education minister, with 360 students and a blank slate, what I would do?
Put larger groups together – age based or multi-age
Fit out and resource a space for at least 120 students
Windows, natural light and wide doorway openings
Have three teachers working as a team
Create nooks within the open spaces
Have walls and windows to write on
Use carpet and soft furnishings and the floor
Have a no shoes inside school, or have ‘inside shoes’
Ensure robust wifi for mobile technology
Have devices on hand as a natural part of learning
Help parents and teachers to think differently
Equip teachers with tools for learning that are necessary today
Be resolute about the future
And what I wouldn’t have?
180 desks and 360 chairs, especially those that enable rows
An obvious front of the class
Bare brick walls
Limited natural light
One teacher: One class (1:30)
Anybody telling me “Well, in-my-day…”
I have the wonderful opportunity of visiting many schools around the world. I observe that when students are provided with:
Freedom to move, explore and be curious
Spaces for learning to support this
Teachers who inspire, facilitate and encourage (and like them)
Then they are capable of deep, quality learning.
Please disrupt. The current model is broken.