Future Spaces, future teachers and the importance of publishing

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Professionals create the field which they inhabit, someone once said to me before pointing out that with mandated curricula, little time for research, and less still for writing and publishing, the teaching profession face huge challenges in showing this hallmark of a profession. 

It is happening though, increasing numbers of teachers are using the benefits of digital to allow them to make use of the time they have spare (often ‘their own’) and the connections they can make to shared interests.

Is this building a field? In some ways I think it is, and the example I often use of this is the relatively recent engagement of MPs with well followed bloggers, something which as far as I am aware seemed to start in the UK with secretary of state for education Michael Gove giving credence to the writing of bloggers like Andrew Old in his speeches. Most recently the engagement of Ofsted with a number of bloggers who had set an agenda of questioning the value of grading observed lessons clearly shows the efforts of those in schools to shape the field in which they work.

The blogosphere in the UK seems to be quite politically focused at the moment. I have a sense that it wasn’t always like this, when I first dipped my toes in back in 2009 it felt like there were more teachers sharing ideas and practice, and the discourse was less driven by political commentary. However, as is always the danger, my perceptions could be influenced by the types of people I chose to follow back then.

It was refreshing this week to see a piece of work putting politics aside and focusing on thoroughly exploring the issue of space design, starting from a theoretical perspective and building up the ideas about what we might want to achieve with the spaces we use for learning into a set of recommendations and future directions for classroom spaces.

This ebook was put together by students at Plymouth University I used to work with, who had brought the lessons learned and the research conducted for one of their modules not just into the summative assessment, but into a publication that could be shared and could contribute to the development to the field in this area.

You can download their ebook from here, and if you are interested in exploring the background to much thinking on learning space design, and getting your thoughts provoked by their ideas of where we could go next with it then I recommend it. It reminds me of Neil Hopin and Kate Atkins’ thoroughly researched and thoughtfully constructed manifesto for their school, which they also published as an ebook so that it might contribute to the ongoing and important conversation about why we do school in the ways we do.

One important way in shaping the field in which you work in a lasting way is writing and publishing on it. It’s great to see those at the start of their careers seeing the value of this, but even more importantly acting on it and making the time to get their ideas out there.

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