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Thursday, 21 September 2017 07:59 pm

Brooklyn School is using $3.5 million refit to rethink education

Mar 31st, 2017 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Image: CHRIS SKELTON/The Dominion Post

Brooklyn School parents in April get the first of many chances to talk about renovating five teaching spaces with a $3.5 million grant.

Brooklyn is one of three schools in Wellington that received Ministry of Education grants totalling $17.5 million in December.

Parents are the next group to include in the discussion, as teachers and staff are currently trying to understand what a modern learning environment looks like, says Principal Liz Rhodes.

Children learning at their own desks in single cell, rectangular classrooms could be a thing of the past.

The internet is a factor in educational change, especially concerning assessment, says Rhodes.

She sees teaching as inquiry, and says exams can contradict cooperative learning.

“How do you test children in a collaborative space?

“The challenge is in team learning, and schools across New Zealand are struggling with this,” she says.

Educational consultant Mark Osborne is working with staff and parents on how educational environments are changing and how to meet a modern learner’s needs.

An innovative learning environment is a flexible space, says Rhodes.

“It might have sliding doors that you can open up to work with the class beside you or breakout rooms where children can work in different areas with really good acoustics,” she says.

“It means different things to different schools.”

Osborne is meeting parents in early April.

Rhodes says it’s essential to include the community, children and teachers in redeveloping the school.

“Getting different people’s ideas is really important. We have to take everyone along on that journey.”

In March, Osborne spoke at the Leading Remarkable Learning conference in Christchurch on how Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) are designed.

Rhodes attended the conference, where one of the most impactful speakers was education researcher Sugata Mitra.

Mitra championed children teaching each other, using only the internet and some encouragement from their teachers.

In his award winning speech at TED 2013, Mitra said learning is the product of self-organised education.

“It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen. The teacher sets the process in motion and then stands back and watches in awe,” he said.

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