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« Transforming teaching and learning through architecture and design: what is possible or desirable?

Gert Biesta
Creating spaces for learning or making room for education?

May 27th, C15, Pope Building, University Park Campus at ***2.00pm

Recent discussions about education have seen a remarkable rise in the use of spatial language, particularly around the idea of the creation of environments for learning. This is mainly the result of a shift in emphasis in educational thinking from the activities of the teacher to the activities of the student, changing the role from the teacher to that of a facilitator of learning processes. Although a lot can be said in support of this shift, there are also some problematic consequences that primarily have to do with a decline in attention to questions about educational purpose. It is, after all, one thing to create environments that support learning, but it is another thing to create environments that support a particular kind of learning. In this presentation I focus on the latter question in order to explore how different views about the aims and ends of education generate different requirements for the creation of the spaces and places in and through which education happens. In this regard I am particularly interested in the connections between education, space and democracy. Rather than a focus on creating spaces for learning in a general sense, I will argue that the key question for school architecture is how to make room for education.

Gert Biesta is Professor of Education and Director of Postgraduate Research at the Stirling Institute of Education, the University of Stirling, where he also co-directs the Laboratory for Educational Theory. He is editor-in-chief of Studies in Philosophy and Education and author of many books on the theory and philosophy of education. Recent titles include: Beyond Learning: Democracy Education for a Human Future (Paradigm Publishers 2006); Education, Democracy and the Moral Life (Michael Katz, Susan Verducci and Gert Biesta eds., Springer 2009); and Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching (Richard Edwards, Gert Biesta and Mary Thorpe eds., Routledge 2009).

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