TRANSFER OF POWER V - SPACE
Lesson created by Izabella Gorczyca using
Video from No Bell Schools YouTube Channel
Space counts. The school space, where children spend dozens of hours a week, should encourage many types of activity, be comfortable, attractive, functional and safe. Most classroom designs do not support learning. Instead, they create communicative barriers between teacher and pupil and between peers. School space organisation upholds institutional hierarchies and is similar worldwide.
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To examine the classroom as a tool of education, we must consider, among others, space organisation, including desk arrangement. School desks usually stand in neat rows, in which pupils are forced to look at their classmates’ backs for several hours every day. But humans are social creatures and contact with others is one of our basic needs. How can good relations between peers and in a group be built in this kind of space? Desks should be arranged so as to make walking around and communication possible. In some classrooms at No Bell, desks form the letter U or are grouped together to make eye contact between pupils possible. A further innovation introduced in our school in Konstancin-Jeziorna near Warsaw are specially designed, light and mobile desks, each for one pupil only, but constructed in such a way as to make their quick and easy grouping and rearranging possible. The same desk can also serve as a seesaw / rocking chair, a chair or warmup kit. Personalisation of space, liberation of space elements – increases children’s self-esteem and helps them see school as their second home rather than an “institution”. Yi-Fu Tuan argues that in the Western world space is a symbol of value. Space is open, it connotes the future and encourages action. Closed space turned to use by humans becomes a place. In comparison with space, place is a peaceful centre of well-established values. Human beings need both place and space. Place is safety, space is freedom. We are attached to the former, but we feel a longing for the latter. Following Tuan’s models, the classroom should become humanised space, combining the human factor with the element of freedom and knowledge. In such space, the unlimited educational resources can liberate the pupil’s mind and teach pupils to think critically.
Free choice of workplace and forms of work; lessons outside the classroom, in the entire school space and beyond – these are some elements of the complex teaching methodology associated with the withdrawal from power. Pupils hate boredom and repetitive actions; they prefer diversified stimuli. By opening classroom space and going beyond the traditional “four corners”, we release children’s spontaneous reactions and forms of behaviour. Freedom and openness become the everyday reality of education. The comfort of learning is greatly increased in this way, and consequently the results are also improved.