Nokia, IKEA & pickled herrings: Learning from Scandinavia

Published: Friday 30 March 2012

Anne Knock from Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL) presented the first CEFPI NSW seminar and reflected on what can be learnt from Scandinavia. The presentation was an amalgam of trips taken over the last couple of years, to see what ideas, philosophies, learning spaces and systems are in use and that are successfully engaging students in their learning.

The seminar looked at how the landscape for learning comprises the physical environment the cultural context and the curriculum content, using a selection of international case studies from Finland, Sweden, Denmark.

One very interesting school was Vittra Telephonplan in Stockholm. the principal is growing the school, she recruited the staff and is responsible for ensuring that the unique learning spaces continued to be used as they were intended.

The principal explains the philosophy this way, “Traditional learning extracts meaning from the context and we need to put it back again.”

From the start she asked, “What kind of world are our pre-schoolers going to be prepared for when they finish school in 2025?”

The design incorporated spatial divisions in the space, that can promote different ways of learning, essential to the Vittra method, where there are no set classes.

In addition to Scandinavian schools, Anne also presented the Rolex learning Centre at Lausanne University in Switzerland. This is an outstanding project designed by Japanese architectural company, SANAA. It operates as a laboratory for learning, open to students and the public.

Spread over one single fluid space it provides a seamless network of services, library, information gathering, social spaces, spaces to study, restaurants, cafes and beautiful outdoor spaces. This highly innovative building has gentle slopes and terraces inside, undulating around a series of internal patios, with almost invisible supports for its sloping roof.

At the Chapter event we also had the opportunity to tour the Darlinghurst Public School. The school’s BER project was an outstanding renovation of the school’s hall. Darlinghurst PS is one of Sydney’s oldest primary schools and the project maintained the heritage elements of the school.

SCIL host study tours each year, the next one is in October this year. Visit

Anne Knock Chair-Elect NSW Chapter