We live in a world of technology running every aspect of our lives; from waking up in the morning with not only our alarms, but timer-operated curtains and coffee machines, to cars being developed that can drive themselves and break when confronted with red lights or pedestrians. With this understanding, primary school curriculum is being tailored to accommodate a technology-based lifestyle, yet there is also a current trend for indoor/outdoor learning. In Perth academia, there is a challenge for teachers to create balance between technology-based and outdoor-based learning. Will this still be a focus in another decade of technological advancements? How will the built environment affect the evolvement of technology and the natural environment in schools?
Hale Junior School is considered one of the most prestigious boys schools in Perth, along with it’s Middle and Senior School’s. The college follows a ‘Prepare, Teach, Connect’ methodology with having physical activities in the morning ‘before education based around sciences, humanities, literature and mathematics’, and finishing with project based work in cross-curricular learning. From this, a new Art building was designed in 2012 by SITE Architecture, solely conceptualised around a tree-house. Situated in the ‘backyard’ of the primary school grounds, the floating deck and open plan studio allow for the “boundaries between inside and out [to be blurred]”, with a “flexible learning environment…to personalise teaching programmes.”. I can imagine being a young child and using an art building hidden up in the trees, being an amazing sensory experience and would encourage so many creative processes. Having a school such as Hale, developing this educational template, by not just incorporating technology into modern curriculum, but by harmonising it within an outdoor atmosphere, creates insight into how the rest of the state may follow suit in terms of teaching environments.
In contrasting this with primary schools that are older and somewhat technologically less established, the change in architecture is highlighted and suggests how these schools may have to work harder in aiming for a seamless integration of technology. Chelsey Crowdy, a Year 3 teacher at Port Kennedy Primary School, describes the problems of integrating modern technology with a 22year old primary school buildings. “The layout of the room affects learning in that the sun comes in through the windows and glares onto the big screen [of the smartboards] so the kid’s can’t see it at certain points of the day.” This suggests the challenge for older architecture still being appropriate for modern day teaching methods, as eaves and shadowing wouldn’t of been as important in chalk board and paper based teaching. Miss Crowdy also adds that she understands that new and old pedagogy still needs to be addressed – “[I understand] the importance of introducing kids to iPads [in educational settings], but then again I think its so important for them to be able to read and write on paper – you’ve got to find an even balance.” These older educational buildings additionally create a larger gap between indoor and outdoor learning, keeping the external environment dedicated to sport and recreational school activities and indoor to wrote learning. This then begs the question that if technology and outdoor atmosphere’s within classrooms are being pushed to the forefront of primary education, will older school facilities only hinder child education, regardless of how much technology and external elements are integrated in the classroom? Will older model schools become undesirable and abandoned by parents until they are either renovated or rebuilt?
As primary school education travels along this evolutionary path, with not just technology but also outdoor connectivity, both being strong drivers behind curriculum and teaching methods, the pros and cons of educational architecture become more difficult to mask. If buildings become noted as having no possibility for flexible learning, technological integration and inclusion of the external elements, then a range of buildings will become useless and serve no purpose to the future generations of teachers and students in primary education.
“Hale Junior School Art Building – Site Architecture Studio”. Site Architecture Studio. https://www.sitearchitecture.com.au/project/hale-junior-school-art-building/.
“Hale Junior School Redevelopment”. Hale School. https://www.hale.wa.edu.au/Media/HaleSchool/PDFs/JS-Rebuild-flyer_A4.pdf.
2019. Image. https://www.portkennedyps.wa.edu.au/latestnews/.
2019. Image. https://www.portkennedyps.wa.edu.au/parents/music/.