Learning spaces

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Space and time for Learning. In schools, space and time are a finite and usually insufficient resource. Thinking carefully about learning and pedagogy throws into focus ideas about the most appropriate use of learning space and learning time. In secondary schools it seems sensible to design learning time to suit learning need. Thus learning time frames from minutes to days should be possible within a timetable. Rigid 5 x 60 minute lessons each day are convenient for orderly organisation and information delivery but have limited usefulness for learning. Metaphors are a useful way of thinking about learning spaces, David Thornburg suggests three and i would like to add two more. Together these five metaphors articulate a way of analysing the function of existing school learning spaces and encourage reflection about how a school might modify existing spaces to extend the range of learning opportunities. Campfires are where stories are told and many minds depend upon one. The traditional box classroom featuring teacher directed lessons is a campfire. Watering holes provide an opportunity for an exchange of ideas and they are places where peer to peer learning happens. Traditional classrooms can become watering holes if the furniture encourages peer to peer exchange. The learning cafe is another example. Caves foster solitude and quiet reflection. Forges nurture the opportunity to create, investigate or experiment pathways ensure that people and information flow smoothly. 20th century schools are primarily made up of campfires, schools need many more watering holes, caves and forges if learning is to be generated rather than recycled. These metaphors apply to the virtual/digital world of the school as well as the real spaces.