Friday, November 7, 2014

Reflections on visiting -Vittra Telfonplan Sweden

Following the principle of Swedish free school organization Vittra and designed by Rosan Bosch.This has been hailed  as a wall-free school with differentiated spaces that allow the children to learn side by side on their own terms using laptops.

The learning spaces are creative, colourful and innovative. Specialist  rooms such as a dance space and a multimedia lab  permits students  to perform noisy activities without disturbing their peers in the open space. 

It is really worth listening to Rosan Bosch and her very clear  philosophy on learning and design - she is quite inspirational - as is the learning spaces at Vittra. 

It was interesting that some of the "open" spaces had been put into traditional classrooms recently. Apparently this move was due to pressure from parents - who wanted curriculum to be physically organised into subject spaces and department and faculties. Parents are very focused on national examination results. There is a difficult discord, when parents only experience of education is their own and this conflicts with the vision of student empowerment and personalising learning. Seeing these recent developments at Vittra caused me to reflect on pressure on educators to compromise their vision in high stakes environments. 

Vittra was also in the process of appointing a new principal which would strengthen the vision around personalising learning. Rosan Bosh is working with Vittra to establish a new campus in this commercial / industrial area. It will be interesting to see how the design of the new campus develops and the direction that the current campus takes under new leadership.

Change of leadership and staff turnover also impacts on sustainability and  schools with a similar vision to Vittra, need to consider how they can continue to develop  journeys of personalisation through change. I observed other schools in UK and Europe that had space for flexibility, collaboration and more student choice over learning but there was a predominance of whole class lessons, didactic style, and the open space was utilised when the "real' work was finished. How can we address the reality gap between our vision of personalised learning and how teaching and learning actually happens?  How can we sustain our vision through change and political and social pressure?

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