There are two things you need to know about me:
1. I’m not at fond of Kevin Costner movies
2. I have never believed the rhetoric of “If you build it they will come”
“No such thing as best practice in education anymore, education is complex in the knowledge economy.” Prof Martin Westwall
Building something is just the start of providing the context, following close on the heals is empowering the people to step up and make it happen. The world of full of edifices, both real and metaphorical, where the people didn’t actually come.
Currently I am at the CEFPI Conference in Adelaide and we just heard from Professor Martin Westwell, Strategic Professor in the Science of Learning at Flinders University. Martin is an engaging and challenging speaker who debunked a lot of myths around what we think about learning.
For educators and architects, the primary audience of is conference, the concept of “provision and empowerment” connected both disciplines. Provision of flexible learning spaces needs to be transformed into empowerment through knowing how to use the space effectively. Providing the space alone is insufficient. We can provide spaces and learning contexts that look interesting and engaging, but how we empower the users is where the magic happens.
Professor Westwall showed PISA data about the effectiveness of types of learning commonly used in schools:
Interestingly, ‘student-to-student’ interaction showed the greater levels of learning retention, and ‘investigation’, the least (for Australian students). The most powerful student-to-student interaction occurred when students were working in pairs. Investigation was ineffective because teachers ‘left them to it’ and therein was the problem, provision but no empowerment.
Teachers and the students can be empowered through a strategic approach to ensure the provision of space, learning opportunities. We may even see improvement in learning through investigative activities when teachers change the way they work.
The new mantra is “provision and empowerment”
If you build it they will come, but only after great planning and execution.