Home' Teacher : April 2010 Contents 42 TEACHER APRIL 2010
and Ray Land explain, discussing Perkins,
in 'Threshold concepts and troublesome
knowledge,' sometimes the learner doesn't
even realise the knowledge is foreign.
Perkins's thinking has influenced other
theorists, like Meyer and Land, whose term
'threshold concepts' is now frequently used
in contemporary teacher education.
The vocabulary and ways of representa-
tion used by architects, facilities experts,
acoustic engineers and builders are foreign
to teachers and vice versa. Once this point
is recognised, change agents can focus on
ways of dealing with threshold concepts.
Glynis Cousin, in 'An introduction to
threshold concepts,' offers the following
suggestions associated with threshold con-
cept mastery about which the people driving
changes to school learning spaces could be
1. Sympathetically listen to expressed
opinions, misunderstandings and uncer-
2. Make visible the learner confusion and
encourage the sharing of feelings.
3. Recognise that there is no easy passage
in learning but rather, in Cousin's words,
'messy journeys back, forth and across con-
4. Understand that the journey can be
exhilarating, but might represent a shift in
identity or a sense of loss.
To Cousin's list, I add the following six.
5. Allow time for learning the new
vocabulary, like 'purging,' 'offset' or 'inter-
mediate space,' and ways of reading plans,
orthographic diagrams and the like that will
6. Allow time for inventing activities that
involve immersion in and reference to all
the relevant fields of architecture, build-
ing and the provision of facilities. Provide
criteria against which teachers can make
judgments about a space or design. Provide
a scaled grid on which teachers can place
scaled furniture and the like for a specified
learning space. Various websites -- such as
the Training Room Design -- facilitate this
kind of activity and assist thinking about
the arrangement of furniture.
7. Provide professional reading by educa-
tional space and pedagogy experts.*
8. Bring in guests to talk about previous
building developments, furniture design,
acoustics, the brief, design process and so on.
9. Use resources like those provided by
the Usable Buildings Trust as a prompt for
brainstorming ways of designing suitable
spaces for users.
10. Establish a design and procu rement
schedule to enable staff and interested com-
munity members to visit new educational
If change involves initiatives about how
rather than what people teach, they must
be involved because it affects the founda-
tions of their practice. Changing whe re they
teach shakes the foundations even further.
We need to offer as many opportunities as
possible for people to adapt to and embrace
changes to their pedagogies and spaces.
Dr Susan Wilks works in the Faculty of
Education and the Faculty of Architecture,
Building and Planning at the University of
Melbourne. She is also a senior research
associate in the Australian Research
Council (ARC) Smart Green Schools
Linkage Grant. The chief investigators
are Clare Newton, Dr Dominique Hes,
Dr Ke nn Fishe r and Professor Kim Dovey.
The industry partners are the Victorian
Department of Educ ation and Early
Childhood Developme nt, the Victorian
Gover nment Architect's Office, Rubida
Research, Mary Featherston Design,
Hayball, H2o Architects, McGauran
Giannini Soon Architects, McBride
Charles Ryan Architects and Sustainable
Built Environments Melbour ne.
This is an edited extract, originally titled
'Building leading pedagogy,' from Take 8:
Learning Spaces -- The transformation of
educational spaces for the 21st Century,
edited by Clare Ne wton and Dr Kenn
Fisher. Clare Newton is the chief inves-
tigator of the ARC Sm art Green Schools
Linkage Grant and a se nior lecturer at the
University of Melbourne. Kenn Fisher is
If change involves initiatives
about how rather than what
people teach, they must be
involved because it affects
the foundations of their
practice. Changing where
they teach shakes the
foundations even further.
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