MLC School Site visit

Published: Monday 20 May 2013

‘This space and these tasks opened our eyes to the direction of schooling in the future.’  Caitlin Hort Year 10 (2011)

In 2011, MLC School Burwood began a master plan process where as part of the process, they transformed an area of traditional classrooms to a collaborative learning space in order to explore how their existing buildings could be adapted to support changing pedagogical practice. This experimental learning space was timed to coincide with, and accommodate the school’s Year 10 Enlightenment Program, in which student’s work together to focus on an issue or topic relevant to their world and its future over the course of two weeks. The 2011 challenge was ‘Shaping the Future of MLC’.

Each space or studio was designed for flexible learning purposes from the reflective, to the highly collaborative and energetic. The environment is not just a passive space to be occupied but is a teacher, an enabler, and helps shape the nature and the quality of the learning. The Enlightenment space challenged students to think about learning spaces, but also about the type of learning that occurs in these spaces. The students nominated the following characteristics of such learning: student-negotiated, innovative, experiential, curious, highly interactive, flexible, passion-driven, teacher and student as co-learners, environmentally conscious and joyful.

Now that the Enlightenment program is over, all staff have the opportunity to work in this space to experiment and practice different ways of working, and collaborating in their work. The response of staff and students alike shows how important place can be to learning.

The attendees heard from MLC Principal, Denice Scarla, Joh Wilkins Bennett, head of the Middle Years and students Cassie, Brianna, Aynslie and Joanna. Olivia Hyde and Cat Downie from BVN Donovan Hill Architects, provided the design persepective about lessons they had learnt from the MLC Enlightenment learning space.

Peter Doddrell