Is the classroom obsolete in the twenty-first century?

Leon Benade
Vol 37, Number 1, p.28
Lefebvre’s triadic conception of spatial practice, representations of space and representational spaces provides the theoretical framework of this article, which recognises a productive relationship between space and social relations. Its writing stems from a current and ongoing qualitative study of innovative teaching and learning practices in new technology-rich flexible learning spaces, characterised by large open spaces, permeable boundaries and diverse furnishings emphasising student comfort, health and flexibility. Schooling in the twenty-first century, certainly in the developed world, is required to ensure that children and school-leavers have appropriate life-long skills in preparation for participation in the twenty-first century knowledge economy. This world is characterised as complex and dynamic, deeply influenced by globalisation and the revolution in digital technology. Developing these skills calls into question ‘outmoded’ transmission models of teaching and requires teachers and school leaders to approach their work in radically new ways. Open school design encourages flexibility in learning and teaching, and allows collaborative, team teaching, with designers claiming significant educational benefits. This arrangement of multiple classes using innovatively designed, technologyenriched common space, facilitated by multiple teachers, working in collaborative teams, is far-reaching in its likely implications for community expectations and responses, relationship building, assessment, student learning, teachers’ work and initial teacher education.