Drawing on imagination : primary students' ideal learning environments

Bland, Derek C. (2011) Drawing on imagination : primary students' ideal learning environments. In Howard, Sarah (Ed.) AARE 2010 Conference Proceedings, AARE Inc, Melbourne, Australia.

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Research has established a close relationship between learning environments and learning outcomes (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria, 2008; Woolner, Hall, Higgins, McCaughey & Wall, 2007) yet little is known about how students in Australian schools imagine the ways that their learning environments could be improved to enhance their engagement with the processes and content of education and children are rarely consulted on the issue of school design (Rudduck & Flutter, 2004).

Currently, school and classroom designers give attention to operational matters of efficiency and economy, so that architecture for children’s education is largely conceived in terms of adult and professional needs (Halpin, 2007). This results in the construction of educational spaces that impose traditional teaching and learning methods, reducing the possibilities of imaginative pedagogical relationships. Education authorities may encourage new, student-centred pedagogical styles, such as collaborative learning, team-teaching and peer tutoring, but the spaces where such innovations are occurring do not always provide the features necessary to implement these styles. Heeding the views of children could result in the creation of spaces where more imaginative pedagogical relationships and student-centred pedagogical styles can be implemented.

In this article, a research project conducted with children in nine Queensland primary schools to investigate their ideas of the ideal ‘school’ is discussed. Overwhelmingly, the students’ work emphasised that learning should be fun and that learning environments should be eco-friendly places where their imaginations can be engaged and where they learn from and in touch with reality. The children’s imagined schools echo ideas that have been promoted over many decades by progressive educators such as John Dewey (1897, in Provenzo, 2006) (“experiential learning”), AS Neill (in Cassebaum, 2003) (Summerhill school) and Ivan Illich (1970) (“deschooling”), with a vast majority of students suggesting that, wherever possible, learning should take place away from classrooms and in environments that support direct, hands-on learning.

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ID Code: 40896
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: learning environments, imagination, visual methodology, student voice
ISSN: 1324-9320
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Primary Education (excl. Maori) (130105)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 please consult the author
Deposited On: 23 Mar 2011 00:49
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2013 08:22

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