21Sep
Ed InvestmentInterviews

Student Centricity – Reflection in the schools’ and learning spaces’ design

Student CentricityThe design of schools and learning spaces has seen a gradual shift over the years from the traditional teacher-centred approaches that were focused on organisational efficiency to the current student-centred models that are designed to enhance student learning. This trend was introduced as part of broader student-centred educational programmes that make the student learning the primary objective of the institution’s strategies. This is in contrast to traditional models where the teacher is often the most active person in the room who does most of the talking while the students are passively listening.

Prakash Nair, REFP, President at Fielding Nair International, said, “Traditional school designs are based on the teacher-centred paradigm which assumes that all children will learn the same thing at the same time in the same way from the same teacher. However, under the new student-centred paradigm of education, each student will learn different things in different ways at different times from different people. This new paradigm takes into account the reality that when children grow up, they will each follow a different career trajectory based on their unique talents, abilities and interests.”

While the traditional design model includes rows of desks facing the teacher, student-centric spaces either feature desks arranged in circles for group work or are located outside of the traditional classroom settings such as internships, apprenticeships, independent research projects, online classes, travel experience, and community-service projects. Most importantly, this new approach aims to develop students who are independent, flexible thinkers and cooperative team players.

“The biggest shift in school design in recent times responds to a major realignment of education itself from the prevalent teacher-centred model towards a largely student-directed model. In the past, the primary currency of schools has been information and knowledge. However, with the proliferation of the Internet and the continued expansion of online learning opportunities, schools are having to retool from being knowledge centres to skill centres. This means that students come to schools needing to develop skills and competencies that will help them navigate the complex and ever-changing world into which they will graduate. These include traditional literacies like reading and writing but also new literacies like creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and expertise in the use of technology and new media.

Traditional school designs are based on the teacher-centred paradigm which assumes that all children will learn the same thing at the same time in the same way from the same teacher. Under this model, the traditional classroom based education was the most “efficient” way to deliver the curriculum. However, under the new student-centred paradigm of education, each student will learn different things in different ways at different times from different people. This new paradigm takes into account the reality that when children grow up, they will each follow a different career trajectory based on their unique talents, abilities and interests.

While the world of learning itself has seen dramatic shifts, schools have been much slower to change. However, the pressure for schools to catch up with the rapidly changing world around them continues to build. Many educational leaders have already made the shift to the student-directed model and they have supported the design of new paradigm schools. However, they still represent only a small percentage of schools worldwide. In the years ahead, I firmly believe that the trend of schools being designed and redesigned to accommodate the shift to the student-directed model will accelerate” – Prakash Nair, REFP, President at Fielding Nair International at the Building Future Learning Spaces Conference.

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