In the knowledge society, schools have to deal with different skills from those requested by the industrial society in order to avoid a risky gap forming between the world of education and the social practices of the new generations.
Traditionally, the classroom was always the only place for school education, while all the other spaces in a school (corridors, laboratories, gymnasiums) were subordinate to its centrality. Every place in a school was designed for a specific purpose and remained unused when that type of activity was not taking place.
In the school of the future this use of the school environment must become just a distant memory.
The conventional lecture-based teaching method is by now old-fashioned: today’s students are profoundly different from those who filled school classrooms only twenty-odd years ago. The context has totally changed, there has been a spread of technologies and digital languages, and students’ interests and curiosities have changed. In order to engage the students of this millennium, a “new” learning environment is necessary: school architecture, furnishings, timetables, work tools, text books and laboratories must be completely redesigned and transformed.
What is needed is to perceive the school as a “single integrated space” in which the various micro-environments of which it is composed, all for different purposes, possess equal dignity and are flexible, fit for the intended use, and able to accommodate people at any moment with the utmost functionality, comfort and well-being.
To accompany these innovation processes, it is fundamental to involve teachers in training courses that give them methods and tools to plan new settings for learning, and to reconsider educational approaches.
INDIRE has been analysing and researching these issues for years and has split them into three main lines:
- international cooperation through participation in the OECD’s Group of National Experts on Effective Learning Environments;
- support for national educational policy initiatives through analysis and research into national situations and cases of excellence at an international level;
- scientific support for schools and school networks that wish to undertake innovation locally (cf. the projects Educational Avant-garde and Small Schools Grow).
School architecture is an innovative project aiming to revolutionise teaching thanks to the schools’ members active participation in planning activities and designing schools. The research is bases on theory and in field observation and doesn’t finish with the publication of its results, but intends to put into practice the knowledge acquired by involving schools and local authorities.
In view of this, an agreement between the special office for reconstruction of the Abruzzo region and the special office for the reconstruction of the municipalities affected by the earthquake in central Italy in 2016, will engage Indire to collaborate with architects, representatives of administrations, teachers and headmasters in the designing of new schools and the restoration of the existing ones. It is a participative project because all the actors involved contribute to the creation of functional spaces for innovative teaching methods and activities.