KvV: Thesis - Research Context

Hi all, please read the following if you have time. I am interested in your comments on anything that you feel has holes, etc.


Since settlement education has played an important role in the formation of Perth’s built fabric, whether it was through private tutoring, privately funded institutions or government institutions (Siew 2004 surmising Gregory and Smith’s Thematic History of Public Education in Western Australia, 1995). Enrolment statistics of full-time students from kindergarten though to senior college reveal the importance of the role of government schools in Western Australia society, 62% of the W.A.’s student population attending government schools and 83% are in Metropolitan schools in Western Australia and (DET 2011, www.det.wa.edu.au). These figures highlight why the design of Government schools is poignant.

The design of educational facilities is of great interest to me because of my background as both an architecture student and a qualified high school teacher. Consequently, I am interested in the relationship between pedagogy and educational facilities and their application to government high schools in the Perth Metropolitan Area (as defined by the DET 2011, www.det.wa.edu.au).

Whilst investigating the relationship between pedagogy and the design educational facilities I have found that there are three types of relationships which exist these include; independent, unidirectional and reciprocal relationships. I am interested in the application of the reciprocal relationship, when pedagogy influences an architecture educational facility and when the educational facilities become an active component of pedagogy. Torin Monahan defines it in Learning Spaces­ as ‘built pedagogy’ (van Note Chism 2006, 2.2) that is the embodiment of educational philosophies in architectural form. The importance of this relationship is the shift in the view of the role of the educational facility moving away from traditional view as container of learning to playing an active role in educating. The research conducted here explores, analyses, interprets and describes the reciprocal relationship between pedagogy and educational space based on a literature reviews of relevant documents and a within case study of educational facilities which deal with this reciprocal relationship. From this analysis some key features have been identified for a performative brief for government high schools in Western Australia.

Educational facilities are designed to be containers of teaching and learning rather than play an active role in the learning process. Can Western Australian Government High Schools be designed to play an active role in the teaching and learning process?

· To explore, analyse, interpret and define the relationships that exist between pedagogy and educational spaces with a focus on the reciprocal relationship
· Analyse and critique precedents which imbue the idea of ‘built pedagogy’ (van Note Chism 2006, 2.2)
· Develop a performative brief based on the relationship of pedagogy and educational spaces which is situated within the context of Government High School in the Perth Metropolitan area (as defined by the DET 2011 www.det.wa.edu.au)
· Test out the application of the brief through design

Methodology: Literature Review
The significance of the role of education to Western Australian society can simply be seen in the sheer regularity to which the news regarding educational matters can me found in the mass media (be it print, electronic, radio or television). The importance of education is not a new mater to the social consciousness of Western Australian society it has been deeply entrenched in our social consciousness since settlement. Evidence of the changing views of the role of education to Western Australians can be found in the built form of our schools. The works of authors such as Siew with Mapping Schools- Exploring Spatial Histories of Government Primary Schools in Western Australia (2004) and, Gregory and Smith with Thematic History of Public Education in Western Australia (1995) reveal how the school type has evolved due to social, political, economic and educational factors.
They reveal as the social, political, economic and educational factors change the spatial conditions that occur in the school change alongside these factors. For example schools form the Colonial Education Period of 1829 – 1870 (Gregory and Smith 1995) are characterized by the Victorian School Room and the Federation Hall and Gallery School Types (Siew 2004, 238) and are reflective of the transportation of English education values. They were not responsive to the local context and reinforced contemporary behaviourist (McInerey & McInerery 2002) education practices whilst schools built during the Democratic Imperative Period of 1871- 1902 (Gregory and Smith 1995) were greatly influenced by the wealth which came with the gold boom and increasing population growth due to the influx of immigrants (Gregory and Smith 1995). These factors school buildings being built rapidly to meet the needs of the growing student population rather than the changing educational philosophies developing around student centered learning such as the social cognitive theories of Piaget (McInerery & McInerery 2002) or the affective learning theories of Montessori (McInerery & McInerery 2002). Whilst these documents reveal numerous factors including political and economic factors affect the design of schools they highlight the importance that social and educational factors play in the design of educational facilities.

Methodology: Literature Review
So what is the role of education in Western Australia today?
The outgoing Curriculum Framework (Curriculum Council 1998) and the in coming Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority 2010) give us some insight into the role of education in Western Australia now and in the future as well as the content students are to learn in the eyes of the government and educationists. Together these documents advocate that the role of education is to equip students with skills, knowledge and values for their lives beyond the education system. The curriculums focus on ideas of creating confident individuals, who are successful learners whilst instilling of values of social, civic and environmental responsibility with the aim of creating active and informed citizens, that curriculum needs to be inclusive of all groups of students, flexible and adaptable to the particular needs of different schools and communities, learning is developmental, that education is not limited to that of the relationship between teacher and student but is a collaborative process with parents and the community and is part of the larger global community.

So how can the built fabric of schools today and in the future encourage these notions of social, civic and environmental responsibility, inclusivity, flexibility and adaptability, developmental processes and collaboration?

Methodology: Literature Review
One of the driving factors that affects the design of schools as articulated by numerous critics of educational architecture such as Siew (2004), Gregory and Smith (1995) and Hertzberger (2009) have and continues to be the relationship between pedagogy and educational space. So what is pedagogy?
There are many pedagogical approaches that exist in the realm of education which are outlined in the following table.

Essential to all are ways or methods of teaching and learning, and the formal relationship between teacher, student, peers, wider community and their students’ environment. Take for example of a behaviourist approach (McInerney 2002), the teacher would use direct teaching methods which would include standing at the front of the student group lecturing the group about a particular topic filling the students with knowledge, students may be required to complete bookwork at their desk individually typically quietly and all students are positioned so as they can observe the teacher and the teacher can observe all them students at all times. Often this type of formal learning is referred to as the traditional approach to education and in Western Australia resulted in the Federation Hall and Gallery spatial types (Siew 2004, 239).
So what pedagogical approach should schools embody?

Teachers at government schools today are not required to practice a singular pedagogical approach and it is left up to them to decide what pedagogical approach they wish to use. However the Curriculum Framework (Curriculum Council 1998) and the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority 2010) embrace and advocate the use of a combination of pedagogical approaches of behaviourist, cognitive, social cognitive and affective by government teachers in Western Australia, as demonstrated in Figure 1.

Pedagogical approach supported by the Curriculum Framework and the National Curriculum.
Another example whereby pedagogy affects the spatial form of an educational space would be that of the Montessori school. The Montessori pedagogical approach changed the spatial conditions of schools introducing alternative thoughts of how walls and doors should operate in a school, new spatial forms and the role the outside has in learning (Hertzberger 2008, 26). The effects the Montessori approach demonstrate the unidirectional conditions of pedagogy effecting educational space when examining the relationship between educational spaces and pedagogy.

I am interested in what I have defined as the reciprocal approach - when pedagogy affects the spatial formation of schools and when the built fabric of a school becomes involved in teaching and learning process (pedagogy) or as Torin Monhan calls it ‘built pedagogy’ the embodiment of educational philosophies in built form (Chism 2006, 2.2). Chism explains and details some of the ways that the design of space shapes the way users learn such as space which is designed to be flexible, the formal arrangement of the furniture and activates that can be accommodated for can change, allows for a variety of learning experiences to occur (2006, 2.6).

The following case studies explore ways of applying the following qualities: social, civic and environmental responsibility, inclusivity, flexibility and adaptability, developmental process and collaboration. In order to develop an understanding how these qualities were embodied in the architecture I have examined how they spatial units have been constructed, the arrangement of the spatial network, scale and height of spaces and examined the qualities of the teaching unit in terms of level of permeability, outside teaching space, form, furniture and openings.

The research gathered is significant for designers of educational facilities as it contributes to the field educational facility design with the analysis, critique, and testing have ‘built pedagogy’
The research shows that the discipline of architecture needs to still push the boundaries of role of architecture in our built environment.
Design of schools have evolved as attitude of schools
The research examines the current conditions in Western Australian Education therefore, is significant as it gives insight into the relationship between current views of education and possible architectural forms for our time.
Learning spaces that reflect pedagogy are important for both users of the spaces: teachers and students and in my experience I have found reinforce learning.


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