1960’s Prefab Classroom with Direct Access to the Yard:
“It’s 2063 and the last of the 1960’s prefab classrooms are being decommissioned. You have been given the brief to redesign a classroom that has direct access to the school yard, veggie patch and chooks.”
The Urgent Need for a Learning Space with Direct Access to the Yard:
It is a crucial concern that a very high percentage of schools built in the 1960’s contain asbestos (Lees, 2010). Exposure to asbestos fibres is damaging and detrimental to the health of any individual, and can consequently cause a fatal disease known as Mesothelioma (Lees, 2010). The push for the decommissioning of these “1960’s prefab classrooms” is therefore LONG overdue. A learning environment that is not only safe but also fosters unique hands-on learning opportunities through nature should be the absolute priority of all educators. Further, we live in a generation now where technology has essentially taken over at the expense of our environment. Resources used to invent and modernize technologies will continue to deplete, damaging our earth. The Learning Spaces of the Future therefore must educate for a sustainable future “which challenges individuals, institutions and societies to view tomorrow as a day that belongs to all of us, or it will not belong to anyone” (United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005–2014).
A Little Inspiration on How to Design an Effective School Garden:
What does this Future Learning Space look like? (Click on the link below to view my design in full size)
A classroom with direct access to the yard, veggie patches and chooks offers endless benefits and learning opportunities. Click on the link below to read a few of the significant advantages I have predicted:
A little something extra…
After designing my 2063 classroom of the future with veggie patches and chooks, I decided I was thirsty for more. I really began to envision this as the future classroom where I would be educating and facilitating the learning of children 5 days a week. This made me consider what the inside of the actual classroom looked like. Where did technology fit into this equation? So I decided to do a little more research on ‘classrooms of the future’ and I managed to stumble across an Australian design firm, LAVA (2011), which explored this in great detail. Here is what LAVA proposed:
As you can see technology still plays a significant role in this future classroom however sustainability seems to be a central focus. The classroom is built with smart panels that allow for sun protection, energy production and air flow. There is rainwater harvesting on the roof, which is stored beneath the structure. The classroom is also adaptable to different climates. For example on hot days evaporative cooling is used to minimize energy consumption and on colder days the structure’s solar thermal collectors provide heating. The roof also uses ‘PV Film’ which collects solar energy (LAVA, 2011). Not only is this future classroom sustainable in its structure but there is also an integration with the natural environment through its big open windows providing for a panoramic view of its surroundings including the school’s very own animals and plants. This provides students with an authentic connection to nature and further reinforces my belief that LAVA’s classroom would work well with my design brief for 2063.
Ultimately, it is absolutely inevitable that we will continue to be faced with new revolutionary technologies in the future. But it is HOW we use them that will be the difference between a future that is driven by depleting technologies or a future that DRIVES technologies towards a sustainable future. I predict and am hopeful we will use technologies in our classrooms as effective tools to help form alliances and Communities of Practice all around the world with the central focus of sustaining our world.
This is a future I believe is possible. A future I cannot wait to be a part of.
Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage. (2005). Educating for a Sustainable Future. Victoria: Curriculum Corporation.
Food and Agriculture of the United Nations. (2005). Setting up and running a school garden. Retrieved from: http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/a0218e/a0218e00.htm
Garden planner. (2013). Garden Planner Online. Retrieved from: http://smallblueprinter.com/garden/planner.html
GrowVeg. (September 13, 2013). How to start a school garden – help kids grow healthy food! [Video File]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozlL2AvkR04
LAVA. (2011, November 28). [Blog]. Retrieved from: http://l-a-v-a.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/classroom-of-future-wins-special.html
Lees, M. (2010). Asbestos in Schools. Retrieved from: http://www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk/pdfnewslinks/Summary%20July%202010.pdf
UNESCO. (2005). United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014). Retrieved from: http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=27234&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html