Breaking The Mould Redesigning the primary school for active experiential learning
Rachel Tan Master of Architecture Singapore University of Technology and Design1
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. - Albert Einstein
Masterâ€™s Thesis Dissertation August 2017 This document was produced as part of a Masterâ€™s thesis research spanning 8 months from January 2017 to August 2017. Tan Wei Xian Rachel email@example.com Master of Architecture (with distinction) Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Thesis Advisors: Stylianos Dritsas Razvan Ghilic-Micu Acknowledgements I would like to extend my gratitude to: My family for their constant support, My thesis advisors for their kind guidance, Danial for his unwavering encouragement, Friends who patiently tolerated all my ideas and questions, and All the teachers that have inspired me one way or another.
Introduction On Active Learning
6 6 14
Global Context Local Context
Requirements of Schools Benchmark Schools
The Problem with the Classroom
Vision Integrating Experiences
Appendix & Bibliography
Abstract The educational landscape is constantly shifting with unprecedented advancement in technology and changing pedagogy. Educators today seek to future-proof their classrooms and school-buildings in order to accommodate changes in new teaching and learning styles. In the upgrading of Singaporeâ€™s public school system, the traditional classroom remains largely unchanged, and instead resources are put into providing a variety of facilities, both natural outdoor and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). However, we postulate that the mere addition of facilities are ineffective as the root problem lies with prioritising classrooms in the design of schools. We reject the notion that the traditional, polyvalent classroom is future-proof, as it assumes that learning each and every subject can be effectively done within the same four walls. This thesis dreams of a school design not governed by the needs of a multipurpose classroom but rather, the curation of integrated learning experiences. This empowers the learners to take charge of their own learning through more flexible and autonomous exploration. We use a schematic framework of scientific exploration, comprising of discovery, testing and community feedback for young learners to understand the world and to define the learning experiences required in this school design. This system is expected to be future-proof by providing unique experiences that will remain relevant in the face of technology. It inspires sustainability by nurturing a love for life-long learning through cultivating the child-like curiosity into teenage-hood and adult-hood.
Lesson in Tampines Primary School, 2010. Prcloth, â€œTampines Primary School Visit,â€? Two Weeks In Singapore, September 01, 2010, accessed April 14, 2017, https:// twoweeksinsingapore. wordpress. com/2010/07/23/ tampines-primaryschool-visit/.
Introduction Education is an essential part of every child’s life, and the experiences and lessons we learn often carry us through life. The lessons we go through are intended to prepare us for the world, one outside the sheltered walls of the classroom. However, with the shifting paradigms and developments in technology and the global economy, a working adult may feel that skills and knowledge taught in schools were not adequate. Who is to blame, for how could have teachers taught and prepared students for a world that they did not know yet and jobs they cannot comprehend? Pedagogy today seeks to equip students more interpersonal skills and critical thinking. With the increasingly connected world and accessible information through the World Wide Web, students no long need to fully comprehend the “what”, simply the “how” and “why”. There exists today many interesting and new methods for delivery of lessons that encourage effective learning and participation. However, the need for a shift from content delivery to skill development has many schools, teachers and even governments overwhelmed and limited to mere baby steps. The existing infrastructure is deeply entrenched in the ideas of the industrial revolution. New technological infrastructure can only be added onto the existing architecture, indeed providing more facilities but not truly exhibiting the ideals of the new educational paradigms of the 21st century. The system and infrastructure today appears to be produces students with the mindset of earlier generations but equipped with better technological skills. While education is compulsory, this thesis takes on an attitude that learning is a choice. To effectively integrate active learning into today’s curriculum, architectural interventions are required to push the gradually evolving system beyond the incubation stage.
This motivation for this thesis direction primarily arises from various observations, struggles and challenges that I, as “Teacher Rachel”, had while teaching primary school students creative writing. As of 2017, I have been teaching enrichment classes in creative writing for about three years. Creative writing, like all other forms of creativity, is difficult to teach and requires a higher level of independence and participation on the student’s part. Unlike knowledge-based subjects, writing requires more thinking and logic than simply understanding facts. My workplace, The Learning Edge Centre, attempts to break out of this conventional mode of instruction and introduces exercises and games to capture the students’ attention. These methods work to some end, and to others it may even seem more like a gimmick. However with regards to its effectiveness and usefulness, it is always up to the teacher’s experience, skill and execution to engage the students intellectually. I approach the topic of education from both a student’s and a teacher’s point of view. As a student who had a great primary school education, but also as a teacher who feels that more could have been done to inspire the curious child that I was.
Teaching at The Learning Edge Centre Images by author, from her Primary 2 and 3 classes in May 2015, The Frontier Community Club
What is one thing about the world beyond the formal classroom that you wished someone had taught you when you were in primary school (aged 7-12)? Word cloud showing most common words from responses to question above Based on survey conducted with 47 college students in March 2017
Beyond the Classroom
develop more hobbies to encouraging their younger self to be more daring and fearless. Surprisingly, the most prominent theme was communicating with people. To name a few examples,
In Singapore, the goal of compulsory education is simple, to eventually reach tertiary level education and afterwards, the work force and life-long learning. The education system in Singapore is indeed very successful at producing excellent graduates, what the late Lee Kuan Yew termed “Singapore’s only • natural resource, people1”. As Singapore is certified the best education system in the world by OECD PISA • in 20162, I was interested find out whether people found anything lacking or missing in their early • education. • I conducted an experiment with my 54 of my peers, students or recent graduates aged 21 to 27, most of whom took what many Singaporeans would consider the most direct and “successful” route to university in Singapore. I spoke to each one in person, and asked them, “What is one thing about the world beyond the formal classroom that you wished someone had taught you when you were in primary school (aged 7-12)?” The question was presented with as little bias as possible and the interviewee was also prompted that it could be anything from a hard skill, a soft skill or even a life lesson. Often it was followed up with a question about their reasons and motivations. What at first was a simple question spawned out of pure curiosity became an exercise that offered a glimpse into my classmates’ childhood, the opportunities that they never had, the challenges that they face now and their perspective on life itself.
WQ, 22: Better communication skills and to break out of my bubble earlier KT, 23: There is more to learn and gain from knowing people better than just studying books J, 23: To communicate more with people who are different from you S, 25: We should not be afraid of our peers and be more collaborative rather than competitive
School is the first major occasion where most children learn to socialise and communicate with other people outside of their families. However, less than an hour a day is spent on informal activities, such as recess3. With most lessons confined within the four walls of the classroom, perhaps it is only logical that students find it tough to converse with their peers things beyond homework. This study highlighted the trend that students felt that this experience was insufficient in equipping them with the social skills they felt they required today. It may also be the emphasis on the singular goal of reaching the next stage of education that hindered students from developing interpersonal skills.
In response to this study, the thesis will address how the transformative school can help to expand the Only four people had no answer on what that they classroom to create instances for meaningful social found missing in their early education. The rest of interaction between students and also with people the responses ranged from wanting to learn practical outside the school. skills like coding, to wanting more opportunities to
1 Leo Suryadinata, Southeast Asian Personalities of Chinese Descent: A Biographical Dictionary (Singapore: Chinese Heritage Center, 2012), 525. 2 “Singapore tops latest OECD PISA global education survey,” OECD Education, , accessed April 13, 2017, http://www.oecd.org/education/singapore-tops-latest-oecd-pisa-global-education-survey.htm.
3 Based on timetable from a primary school in Eastern Singapore.
An open-air, roadside class for the underprivileged kids of Gurgaon Sanat Das, 2014. Digital photograph. Available from: Flickr, https://www. flickr.com/photos/ sanatdas/ 16246812256/ (accessed April 24, 2017).
On Active Learning Educators all over the world are attempting to promote active learning in their classrooms. We define active learning as a learner-centric approach whereby the teacher allows the learner to take charge of his or her learning. Unlike the usual one-way delivery of content from the teacher where the learner passively listens and absorbs, the active learner is able to engage and participate in the activities, decisionmaking and planning of the direction according to their expertise and interest. The need for active learning in education stems from the need for lasting learning, or even life-long learning1. With more participation and ownership of his or her learning, the learner will develop a more positive attitude towards learning where they were consciously put in more effort2. Students today deal with heavy information overload, due to tough and demanding curriculum. Many tend to lose the intrinsic motivation in learning. These students tend to study for the sake of scoring well in standardised tests3. In this section, we discuss various concepts linked to active learning. First the context, the rise of technology, and the skills required for it and how educators go about teaching it. 1 Susan Edwards, “Active Learning in the Middle Grades”, Middle School Journal 46.5 (2015): 26-32. 2 Michael K. Salemi, “An illustrated case for active learning.” Southern Economic Journal (2002): 721-731. 3 Alfie Kohn. The case against standardized testing: Raising the scores, ruining the schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000.
Active learning is closely linked to the development of skills. These skills take priority in today’s context due to the rise of the knowledge-based economy, where a wealth of information is available on the World Wide Web. We link the skills involved in active learning to various “21st Century Skills”, namely, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making1.
The Knowledge-based Digital Literacy
in the traditional classroom6. In Singapore, in order to equip students with ICT skills, many ICToriented subjects are included at different levels in curriculum. At primary level, use online tools to supplement learning in science. Various schools also offer computing at secondary level7. However, as a whole, such technology is still slow and difficult to implement. Outside of computing and programming lessons, technology-oriented activities only occur with limited “active learning”. For example, some teachers may use “e-worksheets” which basically functions as a multiple choice questionaire8. In higher education, technology has been used as “clickers”, a response system whereby students are allowed to answers questions even during lectures. The lecturer typically displays a bar chart of the results to understand the overall consensus of the room9. Older teachers find to hard to understand and integrate technology in their lesson planning.10
The rise of the knowledge-based economy has put forward the need for the development of research, analytical and communication skills, rather than the mere ingestion of knowledge and information. As such, the teacher no longer remains the sole source of information, but rather as a guide to dissect and explore new information2. Digital technologies is making its way into young children’s lives, not only in leisure but also in education. Children start using digital devices as early as aged 23. 75 percent of children under age four use computers4. Teachers use online tools such as blogs, interactive tools, games and communication forums to engage children in learning5. These Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools provide a separate platform for teacher-learner and learner-learner interaction, and hypothesized to allow learner autonomy with students as these platforms give the freedom and environment for cognitive operations not possible
Core thinking skills involved in critical thinking are focusing, information-gathering, memory, organising, analysing, generating integrating and evaluating skills11. The ability to think creatively and evaluate situations is important not only for learning and artistic creation but also in coping with life and stress. Lack of creativity is often linked to
1 Jill M. Klefstad, “Focus on Family: Environments That Foster Inquiry and Critical Thinking in Young Children: Supporting Children’s Natural Curiosity: Susan Catapano, Editor.” Childhood Education 91, no. 2 (2015): 147-149. 2 Susan L. Robertson, “Re-imagining and Rescripting the Future of Education: Global Knowledge Economy Discourses and the Challenge to Education Systems.” Comparative education 41, No. 2 (2005): 151-170. 3 Caitlin M. Dooley et al. “Thoughts from the Editors: The Digital Frontier in Early Childhood Education.” Language Arts 89, No. 2 (2011) : 83-85. 4 Robert J. Beichner, “History and Evolution of Active Learning Spaces,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 2014, no. 137 (2014) 5 Caitlin M. Dooley et al. Digital Frontier.
6 Cher Ping Lim and Chai Ching Sing. “An activity-theoretical approach to research of ICT integration in Singapore schools: Orienting activities and learner autonomy.” Computers & Education 43, no. 3 (2004): 215-236. 7 “Schools looking to better harness technology to aid learning,” Channel NewsAsia - Breaking News, Singapore News, World and Asia, March 17, 2017, accessed April 23, 2017, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/ singapore/schools-looking-to-better-harness-technologyto-aid-learning-8200446. 8 Caitlin M. Dooley et al. Digital Frontier. 9 Robert Beichner, Active Learning. 10 From interview with Mdm A. 11 Cher Ping Lim and Chai Ching Sing. ICT integration in Singapore schools.
Critical Thinking and Creativity
inflexibility in decision-making, as evidenced in a study of a group of schizophrenics12. The general assumption is that these thinking skills often only develop with maturity, however, there is evidence that many of these abilities develop at kindergarten level13. These skills manifest in young children as a form of curiosity and wonder, as they inquire to establish frames that help them better understand their world14. It is through the cultivation of such wonder in a child that develops into interest and genuine intrinsic motivation in learning. Wonder often indicates an urge to experiment, and investigation, whereby the learner is not only simply curious asker but a keen participator in discovery. Motivated learners perceiving themselves as active 12 Ellis P. Torrance, Education and the Creative Potential (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1963). 13 ibid. 14 Paul M. Opdal, “Curiosity, Wonder and Education seen as Perspective Development,” Studies in Philosophy and Education 20 (2001).
and positive contributers in both learning and living15. Interestingly, children’s form of inquiry is not bounded by rules or other philosophical responsibilities16. Most of the time, their wonder is not built up on arguments from prior ideas, but rather, what they understand through their five senses. The prescriptive approach in education often dulls this sense of wonder by imposing the adult’s world view on the child through dogma and rules. The new dictated order disrupts the natural engagement in philosophy, or critical thinking, and ability to derive their own hypotheses, links, connections within their own mental framework17. There can be a balance, however, as we see teachers try to integrate inquiry skills and creativity thinking 15 Mark Bennett, “The Convergence Into an Ideal Thought: Critical Thinking and Metacognition,” Childhood Education 92, no. 1 (December 31, 2015). 16 Mark Bennett. Convergence 17 Mark Bennett, Convergence.
Integration is the Future Alex Carr, 2010. Digital photograph. Available from: Flickr, https:// www.flickr.com/ photos/98297283@ N05/9369234866/ (accessed April 23, 2017).
2014 1-to-1 computing Bendemeer Secondary School, 2014. Digital photograph. Available from: Flickr, https:// www.flickr.com/ photos/bendemeersec /16078998049/ (accessed April 23, 2017).
Active Learning in Singapore Image from â€œNew School on the Block - Riverside Primary School,â€? Schoolbag, accessed April 23, 2017, https://www. schoolbag.sg/story/ new-school-on-theblock---riversideprimary-school.
into lessons. With the data and the current student mindset against vocalisation of such cognitive activities, educators find that guiding students to ask question may be the very first step. Even in the United States, only 5% of questions asked in class are by students18.Thus methods of inquiry can be introduced first by outlining prior knowledge before increasing the complexity and the sophistication of questions19. Understanding that problems are seldom solved with one question (and one answer), students can build confidence towards difficult problems.
However, it is crucial to note that while a curious learner with intrinsic motivation is desired, the level of motivation is dependent mainly on interest. In a curriculum with clear divides between different subjects and disciplines and standardised tests, it is evident that not all things taught will be interesting to each and every student. To counter this issue, some teachers integrate play into teaching, to make the activities informal and spark interest amongst students Play is known to activate learners’ imagination and idea generation.20. Extrinsic rewards such as food and beverages has been proven to be able to alleviate boredom in class21, it is known to actually hinder creativity22. Linking extrinsic rewards or reinforcements with creativity is commonly done with the training of performance animals23. It was found that porpoises generally
could be trained to perform new, novel tricks if the extrinsic reward or reinforcement pattern changed from day to day. However, it was clear that the porpoise needed to be trained with basic skills in order to break the “creative block”24. Termed “the pool of behavioural atoms”, this skills can be broken down or recombined by the porpoise to form novel tricks25. Similar parallels can be drawn to human children, many of which would feel helpless and daunted by the vast task ahead and the awareness that the skills they possess are not adequate. This demonstrates the importance of the teacher figure, who is responsible for such skill-building26. havior.” Journal of the Experimental Analysis of behavior 12, no. 4 (1969): 653-661. 24 Per Holth. “The Creative Porpoise Revisited.” European Journal of Behavior Analysis 13, no. 1 (2012): 87-89. 25 ibid. 26 Diane B. Jaquith, When is Creativity.
Porpoise Tricks Image from Karen W. Pryor, Richard Haag, and Joseph O’Reilly. “The creative porpoise: Training for novel behavior.” Journal of the Experimental Analysis of behavior 12, no. 4 (1969): 655.
18 Tarin Weiss, “Any Questions?,” Science and Children 50, no. 09 (Summer 2013). 19 Tarin Weiss, Any Questions. From interview with Mdm A.
20 Diane B. Jaquith, “When is Creativity?,” Art Education, January 2011. 21 Larry Maheady, Diane M. Sainato, and George Maitland, “Motivated Assessment: The Effects of Extrinsic Rewards on the Individually Administered Reading Test Perforance of Low, Average, and High IQ Students,” Education and Treatment of Children 6, no. 1 (Winter 1983). 22 Diane B. Jaquith, When is Creativity. 23 Karen W. Pryor, Richard Haag, and Joseph O’Reilly. “The Creative Porpoise: Training for novel be19
Schoolyard of a Roman Catholic school, 1938 Nationaal Archief, 1930. Black and white photograph. Available from: Flickr, https://www. flickr.com/photos/ nationaalarchief/ 3915530371 (accessed April 14, 2017).
Global Context Education used to be a privilege only for the rich and powerful. Today, it is an experience essential and compulsory for children in many countries around the world. With its long legacy throughout history, education has been constantly evolving through many paradigms, from theoretical forums to industrialized delivery to the global knowledge economy that we see today. There is no lack of literature discussing the changes and evolution of spaces. To structure our research, we seek to explore the history of education and pedagogy before arriving at the modern day school pedagogy and design, its various components and ideas. This section examines first the earliest records of education, in Ancient Greece, We then discuss the gradual dissemination of power and knowledge to the commoners and the role and importance of compulsory education. Afterwards, we conclude with the various opinions on present-day pedagogical approaches in elementary or primary schools.
Counting Frames in Classroom Nationaal Archief, 1930. Black and white photograph. Available from: Flickr, https://www. flickr.com/photos/ nationaalarchief/ 3896157508 (accessed April 14, 2017).
History of Education Education evolves primarily with the shifting political power and economic focus. Throughout history we observe education and theoretical learning to be a privilege for those in power: the politicians, the clergy and the upper class. More often than not, the working and lower class are reduced to learning the skills of the trade that they were born into, what we know today as vocational education. In the 1800s 1900s, through the rise of public schools and compulsory education, we see the rise of a knowledge-based economy, where the workforce moves from specialised artisanal skills to one of management, production and today, design. With the changing attitudes towards education, we also observe the changes in the architecture of the school, the different spaces guided by the content of the curriculum and the teacher-student relationship. Schools today provide more varied environments that allow the student to breathe outside the four walls of the classroom while still engaging in formal curriculum.
Ancient Greece (900 BC - 300 BC)
The Ancient Greeks education revolved around attaining respect, reputation and political power. The great teachers of the time, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were widely respected because of their intellectual capacity to think, discuss and debate, most of the time in a very public setting. These public debates and speeches highlighted the academic view (or the “educated view”) on Athenian core values and civic norms1. The first records of education were in 900 BC in Ancient Greece, of the poet Homer, author of the Iliad and the Odyssey2. Far from the formal education that we know today, the style of instruction and form of mental stimuli in Athenian education was the repetitive recitation and memorisation of Homer’s poems3. Homer’s poems also touched on humanity and aspects of human life. They not only provided material for literacy and oratorical development but cultural awareness as well. Typically, students were young boys who either learn from their fathers or with a small group with a teacher, accompanying the recitation of Homer with singing to an instrument, the lyre. 4 Homer was not known to be a teacher himself, conducting or leading discussions like other Athenian philosophers. Instead he was simply the author of these well respected and well circulated texts.
require fees, however it was not open for public entry, only the apprentices and followers of these teachers6. For education at a younger age, the presence of a state furnished gymnasia provided a place for private schools to hold lessons, where a young Greek boy would attend lessons according the education style and character his father chose7. Due to the privately-funded nature of the schools, it was only the aristocrats and the rich who could afford to stay in school up till a mature age, learning music, rhetoric, literature and gym. Students of poorer background generally left the school much earlier learn a trade. Naturally, a well rounded education with the prominent teachers would ensure an aristocratic boy a smooth entry into politics8. It is crucial to note that education was highly esteemed and treated as “beautiful”. Although it was monitored by the state, it was not enforced and remained a choice.9 Within a similar time period (850 BC), the Spartans had a completely different world view. The Spartan society was war oriented and thus any form of education revolved around military and physical training10. The state had ultimate control over the education of young children, sending children into basic military education as young as age 711.
These traditions carried onto well-known philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, the former went on to start the Academy in 386 BC and the latter following in his footsteps, founded the Lyceum in 335 BC5. At this point, the academic clubs did not 1 Josiah Ober, “I, Socrates...” in Isocrates and Civic Education (University of Texas Press, 2004), 22. 2 Francesco Cordasco, A Brief History of Education (Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams, 1981). 3 Teresa Morgan, “Homer in Education,” in The Homer Encyclopedia (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). 4 Morgan, Homer in Education. 5 Cordasco, Brief History. 28
6 ibid. 7 Levi Seeley, History of Education (New Delhi, India: Amazing Publications, 2014), 59. 8 Vincent Azoulay, Janet Lloyd, and Paul Cartledge, Pericles of Athens (Princeton University Press, 2014), 21-23. 9 Seeley, History of Education, 59. 10 Cordasco, Brief History. 11 Seeley, History of Education, 70.
Education in Ancient Greece, “Education in ancient Greece,” Athens Path, December 08, 2014, accessed April 24, 2017, http://athenspath. com/2014/12/06/ education-in-ancientgreece/.
Ancient Greek Physical Education, H. M. Herget, “Ancient Greek athletes practice their skills.” Ancient Greek athletes practice their skills. | National Geographic Creative, accessed April 24, 2017, https://www. natgeocreative.com/ photography /611340.
The gymnasium’s main function was for the physical training for young boys. However, the scale of the Location: Delphi, Greece. open space proved feasible and useful for public Built: 400 - 300 BC speeches, hence intellectual programmes were held Types of Programs: 12 • Sports Spaces (Covered Exercise Area, Open Air here as well . Intellectual conversation often took place at the bathhouse. Track) • • •
Sports Auxiliary Amenities Club Room Bathhouse
Later, as the general direction of education turned away from sports towards higher education, the smaller auxiliary rooms were converted into seminar With the Ancient Greek education strongly holistic rooms and smaller learning spaces. A library was 13 across both the intellectual and the physical, we also built in 100 AD . note a polyvalency in spaces, whereby the provision 12 “Gymnasium in Delphi,” Greeka, , accessed April 24, 2017, of spaces at different scales appears sufficient for http://www.greeka.com/sterea/delphi/delphi-excursions/delphi-gymnasium.htm. learning. 13 Jesse Nevins, “The Gymnasium Complex,” DELPHI: Gymnasium Complex, , accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.coastal.edu/ intranet/ashes2art/delphi2/gymnasium/gymnasium.html.
Delphi Gymnasium Jesse Nevins, “The Gymnasium Complex,” DELPHI: Gymnasium Complex, , accessed April 24, 2017, http:// www.coastal.edu/ intranet/ashes2art/ delphi2/gymnasium/ gymnasium.html.
Diagram showing distribution of programs in plan Image by author, based on Plan, Delphi, Gymnasium, 1989. C. H. Smith, Perseus Digital Library, available from http://www. perseus.tufts.edu/ hopper/image?img= Perseus:image:1990. 33.0154b
Medieval Lectures, 14 Century by Laurentius de Voltolina, AJ Cann, Available on Flickr, https://www. flickr.com/photos/ ajc1/10924858523
Roman Empire and Middle Ages (100 BC -1400)
The Romans maintained a similar system as Athenian education. However, education was treated as utilitarian, with the sole intent of schools to prepare children for the practical, working life14. This was approached from the perspective of an educated society for the economic betterment of the state. Similar Athenian content was studied, more for the sake of public speaking than for learning itself. Schools prepared the Roman citizens for careers, at higher education the students would be divided according to different vocations15. After the birth and death of Jesus Christ, the rise of Christianity became the major driver of education. The lecture style layout of the church hall could be easily converted into a schoolroom setting. This allowed for the educating of a large group of people at once16. Unlike Greek and Roman philosophical content, the Medieval Era used scripture and religious texts as the primary content for reading and writing.
clergy, they also took charge of the reproduction and transcribing of manuscripts, both religious and pagan19. Other schools like chantry schools were set up to teach working and poorer communities to chant scripture, with the main goal of educating a morally upright, Christian society20. The merchant class too, set up guild schools that shared and taught the skills and craft of any particular trade21. Interestingly, away from the main governance of the church in feudal estates, was the training of knights. In contrary to the monks, the knight’s education focused less on the literary but physical education, manners, etiquette instead22. Despite these differences, the knight’s education eventually tied back with the Church as the official knighthood could only be bestowed by the church23. In general, the middle ages offered widespread education for most, but opportunities were still limited to the rich and powerful.
Catechumen schools were set up to educate children on theology and moral training17. Catechism is a method of instruction where the student systematically memorises answers to a set of questions. The Church found catechisms an effective way to structure religious curriculum into a palatable portions for young children18. On the other hand, monasteries became more common when the Church started solidifying its sole authority over the state. Monasteries and monastic schools not only educated the monks and 14 Seeley, History of Education, 78-79. 15 Seeley, History of Education, 79. 16 Robert J. Beichner, “History and Evolution of Active Learning Spaces,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 2014, no. 137 (2014) 17 Cordasco, Brief History. Seeley, History of Education, 104. 18 Seeley, History of Education, 104.
19 Cordasco, Brief History 20 ibid. 21 ibid. 22 ibid. 23 Seeley, History of Education, 133. 33
Location: England, United Kingdom Built: 1132 Types of Programs: • Living Spaces • Infirmary • Church Worship Space • Refectory • Cloister
Monasteries generally are self-sufficient estates that have rooms with various purposes. Some even have livestock and farming facilities. The church worship hall is typically used not only for Sunday services but also educational and intellectual instruction at other times of the week.
However, there is also the chapter house, which is smaller meeting-like space where meetings, readings and lectures may be held. Some meetings extend out Religious education was the based on the authority to the cloister or the refectory (dining hall). of the church, which naturally gives rise to a dogmatic approach. Thus most learning occurs in a lecture delivery. Lecture delivery can function in many different scales and the use of different rooms and spaces in the monasteries demonstrate that.
The Ruins of Fountains Abbey “Discover Quintessential England at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire,” The Culture Map, July 21, 2015, , accessed April 24, 2017, http:// www.theculturemap. com/discoverquintessentialengland-fountainsabbey-northyorkshire/.
Diagram showing distribution of programs in plan Based on Plan from Jane Vadnal, “MEDIEVAL ART AND ARCHITECTURE,” Medieval Fountains Abbey, , accessed April 24, 2017, http:// www.medart.pitt. edu/image/england/ fountains/fountainsabbey-main.html.
Modern Era (1600 - 1900)
a elementary school programme in Rome that focused less on the learning curriculum but more on the growth and nurturing of the physical and psychological state of the child. This was a response to the extremely rigid style of instruction imposed on children as a result of industrialised system.
The state only begun taking interest in formal widespread education in the Modern era. Statecontrolled education, often propelled by the need for propaganda gained traction in Europe in 1763 (Prussia) - 1876 (United Kingdom). 24 The state, in most cases saw the need to take over education in Montessori Society : education that transforms lives, , order or produce a skilled workforce. With state accessed May 22, 2017, http://amshq.org/Montessori%20 control came affordable, compulsory education in Education/Introduction%20to%20Montessori. primary and secondary schools. At the same time, as a result of the Reformation, well-intentioned churches and pastors, Robert Raikes in England and John Calvin in Scotland, started the Sunday school movement which offered free education to christian children.25 What was previously a privilege to learn solely in Latin was made available in the common folk’s native language. In response to the Industrial Revolution, monitorial schools were set up in 1810, where the system was organised along military lines where more mature pupils taught the younger ones26. Together with the Prussian school system, the monitorial system resulted in what we know as the industrial “factory model” of schooling, one that prioritises efficiency over quality. This is still deeply embedded in compulsory education today.
Ultimately, all these styles of organisation and instruction was integrated to create the highly efficient, public compulsory educational system. The state was responsible for the training of the teachers and supervision of curriculum planning. On a completely different note, Maria Montessori began a new system in 1907. The Montessori method focused on interaction with the senses27. This was 24 Cordasco, Brief History. 25 ibid. 26 ibid. 27 “Introduction to Montessori Method,” American 36
Children in Classroom in Keene New Hampshire, 1907 Whitehouse, Bion, Keene NH, 1907, Black and white photograph. Keene Public Library and the Historical Society of Cheshire County. Available from: Flickr, https://www. flickr.com/photos/ keenepublic library/5448178933 (accessed April 14, 2017).
Maria Montessori Available from: http://www. mirdetstvaspb.ru/ pochemu-my-vybralimontessori.html (accessed May 21, 2017).
High and Normal Schools for Girls Location: Boston, United States Built: 1870 Types of Programs: • Central Halls • Classrooms • Discussion Spaces • Dormitory • Administrative Spaces
Plan of distribution of programs in plan Image by author, based on Plan obtained from Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens: A design manual (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2015).
Following the style of the Middle Ages, different scales of spaces were used to cater to different group size. However, the spaces, unlike those in the monasteries, were more specific. Some classrooms were designed for 50 children, some 100. This is due to the need for furniture to cater for such instruction28. 28 Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens: A design manual (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2015).
China (500 BC - 1900)
was founded in 186232, as aresponse to the need for education in engineering, sciences and western The progress of education in China surprisingly languages. Later in 1939, the Republic formed and mirrors that of the western world. Confucius was took on Western ideals of education. Accessible 33 like the Socrates, Plato or Aristotle of the east. His education became a priority. teachings, the Analects has survived through Chinese history into present day despite various political shifts. Confucius mainly focused on family values, self reflection and interpersonal relationships29. The political system in Ancient China was surprisingly meritocratic, with state exams open for all aspiring officials of any class. 30 Elementary education is available to all and is generally held at the schoolmaster’s home, a temple or at a wealthy lord’s home.31 This system remained up till the Qing dynasty. Tongwen Guan (present day Peking University) 29 Seeley, History of Education, 28. 30 ibid. 31 ibid.
32 Lackner, Ph.D., Michael; Vittinghoff, Natascha, eds. (2004). Mapping Meanings: The Field of New Learning in Late Qing China ; [International Conference “Translating Western Knowledge Into Late Imperial China”, 1999, Göttingen University]. Volume 64 of Sinica Leidensia / Sinica Leidensia (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 249. 33 Liqing Tao, Margaret Berci, and Wayne He, “Historical Background: Expansion of Public Education,” The New York Times, March 23, 2006, , accessed April 14, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/ref/college/coll-china-education-001.html.
Ancient Chinese School Ma Haifang, Chinese Painting. Xiaoou Yu, “Guidelines for school entrance in ancient China,” China Culture, accessed April 24, 2017, http:// en.chinaculture.org/ chineseway /2014-09/10/ content_562942.htm.
Education Today (1900 - Present)
These new approaches to teaching and learning do not merely encourage students to think out of Schools today are attempting to break out of the the box. Due to its nature of group learning, it also industralised mold of the Modern Era. The notion of encourages social interaction exchange of ideas “sustainability” is making its way into the education amongst peers. system where the lessons taught in school are able to translate into creativity and innovation that will However, these implementations are slow across the prevent economic stagnation34. The presence of board due to policies, people and infrastructure. It is digital literacy and the global knowledge economy, to be expected as the methods of “mass education” where information is shared and easily available is a result of a historical build up from the middle on the World Wide Web, has created a demand for ages. One can only hope to reinvent the schoolroom a different brand of education. In reaction to this, to alter the relationship between the teacher and educators are introducing “active learning”, where student to a more useful one in today’s context. the students do not simply receive information but are able to provide some form of feedback real-time during lessons35.
The “lecture” style of instruction that has been the norm since Ancient Greece is being re-evaluated and re-organised to encourage this active learning36. Learning environments are now designed to stimulate all five senses. With the trend of “maker education” and “project-based learning”, learning spaces are being converted into studio-type spaces that facilitate audio and video creation37. Studio learning, which has roots in the arts and architecture has found a role with the sciences. Heavy emphasis on real world learning, experimentation problem solving are evident in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) courses 38.
34 Catherine O’Brien and Patrick Howard, “The Living School: The Emergence of a Transformative Sustainability Education Paradigm,” Journal of Education for Sustainable Development 10, no. 1 (2016) 35 Beichner, History and Evolution of Active Learning Spaces. 36 ibid. 37 Robert Dillon, Redesigning Learning Spaces (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, A SAGE Company, 2016). 38 Beichner, History and Evolution of Active Learning Spaces. 40
Informal Learning Spaces Kurani, “Columbine Elementary,” Kurani, March 19, 2017, , accessed April 24, 2017, https://kurani. us/2015/05/16/ columbine-elem/.
Introduction of Studio Clusters into Wondoga Middle Years Kurani, “Wodonga Middle Years,” Kurani, September 02, 2015, accessed April 24, 2017, https://kurani. us/2014/01/21/ wodonga-middleyears-college/.
West Haven Elementary School Location: Utah, United States Built: 2004 Types of Programs: • Classrooms • Breakout Spaces • Small Group Spaces • Sports Spaces • Specialised Teaching Spaces • Administrative Spaces
and also encourage social interaction. Classrooms are structured around an informal breakout area to form clusters. These clusters then group around specialised teaching zones, which each class will then take turn to use.
While this creates a very efficient environment, the extremely organised layout of the plan gives hint to the schools built in the modern era, the scale of West Haven merely much larger. The breakout spaces are placed very conservatively at circulation spaces with An attempt to mix in formal and informal spaces interventions such as furniture or amphitheatre-like for learning, West Haven used the approach of stepped seating. clustering to enable efficient resource distribution Informal Learning at Main Lobby Space Available from http://www. designshare.com/ dbadmin/upload/ projects/1/517/kiva01.jpg
Plan of distribution of programs in plan Image by author, based on Plan obtained from Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens: A design manual (Basel: BirkhĂ¤user, 2015).
North Spring Primary School Image scanned from Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning.
Local Context In Singapore, since self governance in 1959, education has largely been managed by government agencies, namely the Ministry of Education and the Public Works Department1. It has been made compulsory in 2003 for children between 6 years to 15 years.2 Today, the Ministry is focused on creating 21st Century learning environments but face the problem of upgrading existing infrastructure all at once. As such, small and almost identical steps are prescribed to upgrade each school for more ICT facilities and performance spaces. In this section we briefly summarise the history that has affected the attitude towards learning and examine a typical school. 1 Public Works Department, 25 Years of School Building. Public Works Department, 1984. 2 â€œCompulsory Education,â€? Singapore Ministry of Education, accessed April 13, 2017, https://www.moe.gov.sg/education/education-system/compulsory-education.
Primary Schools in Singapore (& selected site in Changi/Simei zone) Image by author
Schools in Singapore
the T-score in 2021, a system that measures the grades of one students against the performance of Compulsory education in Singapore begins at Primary School. Children in Singapore enter primary school his or her peers3. at seven years old and leave with a Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) certification at the age More measures are being put into place to offer of twelve. The PSLE is a nation-wide examination students today with more holistic education. with four examinable topics: English, Mother Philosophy for Children, is a programme modelled Tongue, Mathematics and Science. It is administered after the GCE “A” Level subject, Knowledge and by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Inquiry. Designed to cultivate critical reasoning and Board, overseen by the Ministry of Education. The thinking skills in children, was introduced to three PSLE score determines which secondary school and primary schools but its actual success not evaluated4. Today, the education system is still facing challenges stream the student is able to enter. especially with regards to evaluation methods, training of teachers and the overall curriculum. As of 2017, there are a total of 190 primary schools in Singapore, 182 of which are operating with a single session1. Due to the young nature of the students, 3 Amelia Teng, “Parliament: PSLE scoring system these schools are typically planned around housing to be revamped; T-score to be removed from 2021,” The districts to limit travel time. Straits Times, July 09, 2016, , accessed April 25, 2017,
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/parliament-psle-scoring-system-to-be-revamped-t-score-toThinking Schools, Learning Nation be-removed-from-2021. The current motto for the Ministry of Education, 4 Charlene Tan, “Creating thinking schools “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation”, was first through “Knowledge and Inquiry”: the curriculum chalannounced by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong lenges for Singapore,” The Curriculum Journal 17, no. 1 (March 2006).
in 1997. The intention was to encourage more forms of autonomy in goal setting and curriculum planning at the level of the school and also the students themselves2.
Schools have undergone many upgrading works, to equip the school with the necessary IT infrastructure and students with the skills needed to lead this IT revolution. Besides developing IT, the system is also trying to inspire creative thinkers through creating a less threatening learning environment. The PSLE revised to be less stringent. MOE will be abolishing 1 “Mode of Operations of Primary Schools,” Ministry of Education, , accessed June 02, 2017, https://www. moe.gov.sg/admissions/primary-one-registration/information-on-primary-schools/mode-of-operations-of-primary-schools#single-session. 2 OECD. “Singapore: Rapid Improvement Followed by Strong Performance.” Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education: Lessons from PISA for the United States, 2010, 159-76. 47
Timeline of Singaporeâ€™s Educational History Image by author, based on Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning.
Singapore’s education scene mirrors that of its economic one. This is no surprise, since the government recognises Singapore’s only natural resource are its people1 and the driving force for the economy. The Public Works Department (PWD), the main designer and manager of government schools was set up in 18732. This was during the British colonial rule, hence many of the schools built were mission and convent schools3. In 1949, there were a total 498 schools in Singapore and 72 100 students enrolled in total4. Many of these schools were either destroyed or converted to Japanese propaganda schools during World War II. In 1949, PWD launched Type 1949, a standard school design of three single-storey blocks oriented around a single courtyard. In 1950, the PWD began to develop two-storey schools, then in 19531956, started building three-storey schools5. Selfgovernance in 1959 and independence in 1965 gave rise to the rapid growth of the school system6.
Balestier Girls’ School Type 1949 school design. Image scanned from PWD, 25 Years of School Building.
Type 1965 secondary school design. Image scanned from PWD, 25 Years of School Building.
During the nation building phase, the PWD began to see the importance of individualised designs, mainly because of its significance with identity. Land scarcity also started to become a problem7, hence replicating plans regardless of site context became problematic. Four-storey secondary schools were built in reaction to limited land.
1 Leo Suryadinata, Southeast Asian Personalities of Chinese Descent: A Biographical Dictionary (Singapore: Chinese Heritage Center, 2012), 525. 2 Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning: New Singapore Schools (Singapore: Akimedia, 2001). 3 Public Works Department, 25 Years of School Building. Public Works Department, 1984. 4 PWD, 25 Years of School Building. 5 ibid. 6 Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning. 7 PWD, 25 Years of School Building. 49
As Singapore moved towards the efficiency driven phase8, As the system moved towards creating multiple pathways to develop skills for a skillintensive economy9. The development of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) was heavily invested in, producing workers through vocational training for the growing economy. More schools were built in Housing Development Board (HDB) neighbourhoods, to de-centralise the schools from the city centre. With economic stability, the country starts to realise the importance of individuality. The efficiency driven phase led schools to exhibit a lack of identity once again10, and the PWD conducted surveys to determine how to improve these schools through upgrades and addition of facilities. With the advancement in technology, the PWD also saw that the existing facilities were inadequate in providing the environment for learners of the future. It was then in 1989 that the Rebuilding or Extension and Alteration Programme (R/E&A) was launched11. The R/E&A was significant as it evaluated whether the older schools were worth upgrading or should be demolished. Evaluation was based on availability of land, economic lifespan of builings, feasibility of replanning of layout configuration and optimisation of land usage12. Schools that were too small for expansion were either phased out or combined with another school13. Later, the 4th School Building Programme was launched in 1996, with 16 new secondary schools that had zero repeat designs, something that the previous generations of school did not have14. Each school had a unique identity. 8 OECD. “Singapore: Rapid Improvement Followed by Strong Performance.” Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education: Lessons from PISA for the United States, 2010, 159-76. 9 OECD. Singapore: Rapid Improvement. 10 Robert Powell. Architecture of Learning. 11 ibid. 12 ibid. 13 ibid. 14 ibid. 50
The Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools (PRIME) launched in 199915 to manage new upgradings. In lieu of the “IT revolution”, schools undergo upgrading to improve only their IT infrastructure. However, the recent generation of upgrading has been equipping schools with sports facilities such as a multi-storey indoor sports hall and also visual and performance art facilities. Today, there is a total of 366 schools in Singapore and an enrollment of 450,000 students16. The design of schools is outsourced to a wide pool of consultancy firms. This gives rise to a fair amount of variation in styles. The schools themselves are striving to be more creative, not only with their teaching styles but also in the building expression. An example would be Nanyang Primary School, recently upgraded in 2016, exhibiting rainbow-like bands of colour throughout the whole school.
15 ibid. 16 Ministry of Education, Education Statistics Digest, Ministry of Education. 2016
Nanyang Primary School, 2016. Digital Photograph, available from http://www. designboom.com/ architecture/colorfulnanyang-primaryschool-extensionstudio505-lttarchitects-singapore04-01-2016/
The capacity and floor area of school has been gradually increasing, as with population growth. The sizes of the classroom has also increased from 64 square metres to 90 square meters, probably to accommodate the larger class size of 40 pupils. Even as school designs begin to show more individuality and flexibility, due to the simplicity of programs involved and the need for daylight and ventilation, the organisations often end up looking similar to older schemes. Generally, the schemes either follow a courtyard organisation, a linear organisation or a hybrid of the two1. Primary Schools have less need for technical rooms and hence the bulk of the school is taken up by classrooms, usually on a single loaded corridor.
The architectural strategies employed are modular flexibility in classrooms, multi-use in facilities and outdoor learning4. Learning does not merely have to happen in the classroom, but all over the school. Hence architects should design for the activities rather than fix the specific program to a specific room5. Flexibility can be designed at the scale of furniture as well, in the forms of mobile and flexible fittings. For example, a music room and audio visual room can be converted to a dance studio6. Architecture can be used as teaching props, to exploit building systems for lessons on real life connectivity and sustainability7. For example, a “PiWall” could teach children about the numbers in pi, by having a facade wall guided by different colour panels varying in number according to pi8.
The program in a Primary School can be identified 4 ibid. as follows: 5 ibid. 6 Ministry of Education, Flexible School Design. • Classrooms 7 Phan Pit Li et al., “Creating 21st Century • Special Teaching Areas Learning Environments,” PEB Exchange, Programme on • Multipurpose Hall Educational Building, June 2005. • Canteen 8 ibid. • Sports Areas • Foyer (Reception) • Administrative Rooms There is a new demand for flexibility in school design, in response to the knowledge that the one-size-fitsall approach is no longer relevant. Research about multiple learning styles and multiple intelligences has influenced the way the school and the teacher organise the classroom2. Designing different scales of teaching spaces in order to accommodate different sizes of classes, introduced via modular classrooms with flexible partitions3. 1 Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning. 2 Pit Li Phan, “Flexibility in schools: a review of MOE’s FlexSi framework.,” Singapore Architect 241 (Oct. & Nov. 2007) 3 Ministry of Education, Flexible School Design Concepts to Support Teaching 52
Rosyth School, an example of a school with hybrid organisation in plan. Image scanned from Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning.
Nett Floor Area 7448 sqm
28 nos @ 64 sqm
28 nos @ 72 sqm
36 nos @ 80 sqm
38 nos @ 90 sqm
ECA Rooms Sick Bay Armour Room
Audio Visual Room Workshop Room
Language Lab Recording Room Computer Lab Commerce Room Indoor Fitness Room
IT Learning Resource LAN Room Server Room Media Resource Library
Changes in school capacity over the years Image by author, based on Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning.
Different Typologies of Primary Schools Image by author, based on Plans from PWD, 25 Years of School Building & Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning.
Classroom / Admin Hall / Canteen
Classes at Big Creek Elementary “Big Creek Elementary,” HomePage, accessed April 25, 2017, http:// www.forsyth.k12. ga.us/bigcreek.
Requirements of Schools This section analyses the typical considerations and requirements that go into the design of schools. Due to the nature of compulsory, standardised education, much of this data is determined, controlled and enforced by the governing authority. The school typology is rather similar across the modern western world, and this shows through the similar program and other requirements. We summarise the design requirements involving: â€˘ Program and their respective areas â€˘ Lighting â€˘ Acoustics Understanding the overall considerations will aid in analysing the four case studies in the next section.
Specialised Learning Rooms include sports, art, music and science rooms. They require very specialised equipment that hardly is transported our of the room. These rooms are not always clustered together or with classrooms, but rather follow fire safety rules (labs) or the need to have proximity New schools not only follow the typical organisation with public zones (theatre, gym). but also try to integrate these various aspects. - The • Performance Theatre 120 sqm [US]8 spatial configurations follow2 • Gymnasium 600 sqm [US] 9 • Integrated break-out spaces and project rooms • Art 120 sqm [US]10, 100 sqm [UK]11 • Specialised learning environments • Multi-functional spaces that support schools as • Music 120 sqm [US]12, 62 sqm [UK] 13 • Science Lab 150 sqm [US]14, 83 sqm [UK] 15 centres of community In general, the programs in an elementary school can be divided into classrooms, outdoor play areas, specialised learning rooms, administrative rooms, common spaces and services1.
Classrooms are the backbone of school design. They Administrative Rooms are facilities for teachers typically have very flexible layouts to accommodate the type of lessons that the teacher wishes to conduct. Classrooms normally occur in a cluster in order to generate social interaction between classes as well as share resources.
55 sqm for 30 students [UK guideline]3 55 sqm [US guideline]4
Outdoor Play Areas provide intermediate spaces
and staff. The rooms are typically clustered together in a single block for efficiency. • • •
Common Spaces are larger informal spaces such as the canteen (commons) or the library.
between large activity areas such as the gymnasium. • They comprise of outdoor amphitheatres, gathering • space, community garden, walking trail and sports facilities5. Due to space constraints, they often outline the perimeter of the site. • •
4200 sqm [US] 6 1200 sqm [UK] 7
1 DOD Education Activity (DODEA), Education Facilities Specifications: Middle School, 5.0, DODEA, 2017. 2 Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens: A design manual (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2015). 3 Department for Education, Area guidelines for mainstream schools, 2014. 4 Georgia Department of Education, Guideline for Square Footage Requirements for Educational Facilities, Georgia Department of Education, 2012. 5 DODEA, Education Facilities. 6 ibid. 7 Department for Education, Area guidelines. 58
Reception + Staff Room 120 sqm [US]16 Staff Room 75 sqm [UK] 17 Sick Bay 50 sqm [US] 18
Canteen 260 sqm [US]19 Library 173 sqm [US] 20
8 DODEA, Education Facilities. 9 ibid. 10 ibid. 11 Department for Education, Area guidelines. 12 DODEA, Education Facilities. 13 Department for Education, Area guidelines. 14 DODEA, Education Facilities. 15 Department for Education, Area guidelines. 16 DODEA, Education Facilities. 17 Department for Education, Area guidelines. 18 DODEA, Education Facilities. 19 ibid. 20 ibid.
Reception/ClericaCrossroads Elementary School Image from DODEA, Education Facilities Specifications.
Commons Fort Campbell High School Image from DODEA, Education Facilities Specifications.
Hybrid Performance Space, High Tech Middle School Image from DODEA, Education Facilities Specifications.
Many studies have shown that the design of daylighting is crucial in the success of learning. According to a study done in three different US states21: Students in classrooms with the most daylight progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster in reading tests. Classrooms with the most window area were associated with a 15-23% faster rate of improvement. Researchers found that from ten oâ€™clock until noon our immediate memory is at its best and is therefore a positive factor in schoolwork, concentration and debate. The hours from six in the evening to midnight are favourable for studying since then our long term memory is at its best.
Daylighting with a courtyard Image from Lisa Gelfand, Sustainable school architecture: design for elementary and secondary schools (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010)
Consideration for adult and child eye level Image from Lisa Gelfand, Sustainable school architecture: design for elementary and secondary schools (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010)
Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens.
As such one notes that school design is typically do not have very deep plan. The design typically makes use of courtyards to maximise natural light. For less dense buildings, top-lighting systems are able to provide lighting via the ceiling or roof. Else, for denser buildings with multiple floors, side-lighting systems may deem insufficient for the various activities demand are often more than what the system can provide. As a guideline, the lux levels that the various activities require is summarised in the table on the left. Typically, direct sunlight is avoided to prevent glare and gentle, uniform illumination is encouraged22. Allowing light to bounce off the walls in order to light the space is also generally a good approach to daylighting23.
22 Lisa Gelfand, Sustainable school architecture: design for elementary and secondary schools (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010). 23 ibid.
Lighting Strategies for side-lighting and toplighting Image from Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens: A design manual (Basel: BirkhĂ¤user, 2015).
Reading printed material
Reading pencil material
Reading chalkboards, sewing
Home Economics Room
Lux levels for various tasks and programs Image by author, based on Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens: A design manual (Basel: BirkhĂ¤user, 2015).
Acoustics is incredibly important to learning, especially when it is with the sense of hearing that many children use to perceive things. It is also essential for communication24. In schools, due to the nature of different programs, it is important to group programs with similar acoustic demands so that the adjacent spaces do not suffer from unwanted noise25. For example, silent areas, noisy areas and speaking areas should be properly segregated so that the corridor spaces can take on the overflow of both people and noise. Silent areas generally demand minimal noise. They do not produce noise and should not receive any external noise as well. Some examples are: •
Libraries & Reading Areas
Noisy areas are programs that produce noise and its effectiveness will not be affected with the addition of more sound. Some examples are: • •
Eating areas Sports areas
24 Mark Dudek. Schools and Kindergartens. 25 ibid.
Different Types of Acoustic Reflection in a Large Space Image from Mark Dudek, Schools and kindergartens: A design manual (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2015).
Specialised areas are programs that require a specific condition, whether it be properly insulated to prevent leakage inside or outside. For example, speaking areas requires good, clear directed sound from the speaker. Some examples are: • • • •
Classrooms Music Rooms Performance Spaces Specialised Teaching Spaces
Acoustic design not only occurs at the larger scale. The selection of materials, design of room geometry and placement of furniture are essential in creating a sensitive acoustic environment for learning26. Direct sound is always encouraged and reflection and reverberation is generally unwanted, especially for clarity of speech. As a standard, reverberation times for the best reception of speech and music are specified within a minimal frequency range of 60 -4,OOO27. 26 ibid. 27 ibid.
Canteen at Elias Park Primary School Image by author
Multi-story linkways at Dunman High School Image by author
Benchmark Schools In this section we analyse four modern schools, Wilkes Elementary School from the United States, Heathfield Primary School from the United Kingdom, North Spring Primary School and Elias Park Primary School from Singapore. These four schools have varying typologies while still maintaining a similar style of school design. We tabulate and analyse the data from floor plans to derive more appropriate conclusions on top of the government-regulated metrics. From these four examples, we are able to compare • Differences in area and sizes • Derive the various adjacencies and important relationships • Evaluate the effectiveness of the circulation in each typology • Identify the common threads and concerns in typical school design
Wilkes Elementary School Location: Washington, United States
Total Date of Completion Number of Floors
Number of Classrooms
Wilkes Elementary School Information and images from â€œWilkes Elementary School / Mahlum,â€? ArchDaily, February 09, 2015, accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/596974/wilkeselementary-schoolmahlum.
Program Bubble Diagram Image by author, based off Plan and information from “Wilkes Elementary School / Mahlum,” ArchDaily, February 09, 2015, , accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/596974/wilkeselementary-schoolmahlum.
Site Area (sqm)
Adjacency Matrix & Metrics Images by author, based off Plan and information from “Wilkes Elementary School / Mahlum,” ArchDaily, February 09, 2015, , accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/596974/wilkeselementary-schoolmahlum.
Annotated plans Images by author, based off Plan and information from â€œWilkes Elementary School / Mahlum,â€? ArchDaily, February 09, 2015, , accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/596974/wilkeselementary-schoolmahlum.
Heathfield Primary School Location: Scotland, United Kingdom
Total Date of Completion Number of Floors
Number of Classrooms
Heathfield Primary School Information and images from: â€œHeathfield Primary School / Holmes Miller Architect,â€? ArchDaily, September 24, 2012, accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/274359/ heathfield-primaryschool-holmes-millerarchitect.
Program Bubble Diagram Image by author, based off Plan and information from “Heathfield Primary School / Holmes Miller Architect,” ArchDaily, September 24, 2012, accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/274359/ heathfield-primaryschool-holmes-millerarchitect.
Site Area (sqm)
Adjacency Matrix & Metrics Images by author , based off Plan and information from “Heathfield Primary School / Holmes Miller Architect,” ArchDaily, September 24, 2012, accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/274359/ heathfield-primaryschool-holmes-millerarchitect.
Annotated Plans Images by author , based off Plan and information from â€œHeathfield Primary School / Holmes Miller Architect,â€? ArchDaily, September 24, 2012, accessed May 25, 2017, http:// www.archdaily. com/274359/ heathfield-primaryschool-holmes-millerarchitect.
North Spring Primary School Location: Sengkang, Singapore
Total Date of Completion Number of Floors Enrollment
Number of Classrooms
North Spring Primary School Information and images from: Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning: New Singapore Schools (Singapore: Akimedia, 2001).
Program Bubble Diagram Image by author, based off Plan and information from Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning: New Singapore Schools (Singapore: Akimedia, 2001).
Site Area (sqm)
Adjacency Matrix & Metrics Images by author, based off Plan and information from Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning: New Singapore Schools (Singapore: Akimedia, 2001).
Annotated Plan Images by author, based off Plan and information from Robert Powell, Architecture of Learning: New Singapore Schools (Singapore: Akimedia, 2001).
Elias Park Primary School Location: Pasir Ris, Singapore
Total Date of Completion Number of Floors Enrollment
Number of Classrooms
Elias Park Primary School Images by author
Program Bubble Diagram Image by Author
Site Area (sqm)
Adjacency Matrix & Metrics Images by author
Annotated Plans Images by author
The Problem with the Classroom
We note three main issues that arises out of the Classrooms are typically naturally ventilated. This classroom-centric school design. is especially apparent upon the analysis of the case studies. All the schools had a typical classroom block First, the isolation of the classroom. Learning in almost perfect North-South orientation, to reduce takes place in an isolated box, which may not be the impact of sunlight on radiative heat gain. This sustainable in the long run. Next, the overfocus of would indicate that the placement of classrooms polyvalency. Classrooms are typically designed to have number one priority, and are probably decided be self-sufficient boxes, but perhaps this should even before arranging other larger programs like not be the goal. Lastly, the pressure on the teacher the canteen and indoor sports hall. It is also not to deliver active lessons. The blank slate of the surprisingly, as classrooms are the place where classroom results in a large variation in quality of majority of lessons take place, and is occupied much teaching that schools are still trying to mitigate. The school design itself can help the teacher be a better more than any other space in the school. teacher if it provides more instances for active learning. Both Wilkes Elementary School (US) and Heathfield Primary School (UK) had other programs shield the classroom blocks from both the East and the West. Elias Park Primary School (SG) even maximised the Isolation of Classrooms site in the North-South direction by placing a long Public schools deal with efficiency by centralising resources, sharing as much as possible. This places classroom block, 13 classrooms long. labels on each space and instantly creates physical The classroom appears to be sufficient for the divide. This results in the classroom constantly being propagation of mass public education. However, the detached from other learning spaces in the school. new paradigm of learning has called for a need for a new type of spatial organisation that encourages active learning. Perhaps it is not the idea of the classroom box itself that needs to change, but the environment surrounding it and how it responds. By identifying the issue with the classroom, we are able to adjust and retransform the school for active learning.
North-south Orientation of Classrooms in Respective Schools Image by author
Although not apparent in plan, upon further analysis of program relationship, we note the pattern of special teaching programs arranged to â€œserviceâ€? the classroom blocks. When referring to the timetable however, we realise that the classroom may act as the center of the school because it is where the student spends the most time in, and the other special teaching rooms act as enrichment. This
is especially so in Singapore, where the students may not even need to leave the classroom between lessons. This further perpetuates the notion that education is being passively fed to students, who are only required to wait in the same spot for 5 hours a day. It should be noted that having a student constantly in the same space has a possibility of instilling a sense of belonging and attachment to the space. If exceptional learning happens there, children would most likely associate positive memories with the space. The classroom is also always on the end of the line, which results in it being a destination rather than part of a journey. Moving a group of 40 students requires time, and teachers would prefer not to move the whole class unless there was a good reason.
Over-focus on polyvalency
The classroom is effective if all lessons were lectures. Lectures require no movement and does not need any relation to the environment. This may be more effective with older students with longer attention spans, however with young children this may have a negative effect on the absorption of knowledge. The design of classrooms forces teachers to convert
almost every lesson into a type of lecture as they typically do not have enough time to reorganise it or introduce large physical teacher materials. Knowing the sheer range of information that students are fed, it is apparent that one cannot learn every bit of this information effectively if it is taught in the same way, in the same type of room. The polyvalency provided by the classroom has only limited the type of learning. Perhaps there is a need for every classroom to be adapted to some form of specialised learning.
Pressure on Teacherâ€™s Performance
The classroom lacks the type of experiences for children to crystallise concepts. This creates more pressure on teachers to deliver memorable lessons and often this results repetitive rote learning instead. As such, active learning in most schools is lost, instead children are given repetitive drills. This creates an issue about future-proofing, when the economy is no longer looking for do-ers but thinkers. There is a need for active learning experiences to incite excitement and curiosity for children to question and continue their learning journey outside of the classroom.
Typical Primary 6 Timetable in Singapore Image by author, based on actual timetable at a primary school in the Eastern part of Singapore
Learning Outside the Classroom Digital Photograph, available from http:// www.merseyforest. org.uk/news/ cheshire-kidsre-connect-withnature-by-learningoutdoors/
Vision Active learning at the top of the list of priorities, we aim to create a school that provides the students and teachers with a variety of spaces with differing levels of formality. We break down the existing linear system that is exceedingly formal and inflexible. We aim not only to change the space but influence the curriculum as well. This new school focuses on experiential learning and creates many environments for learning to take place. These environments can be a laboratory, outdoor nature space or even an informal amphitheatre. We propose the use of the reciprocal principles of scientific exploration as a framework for learning: to understand the world, to ask questions, to develop interests and also to nurture creativity. Classrooms are converted into studios and laboratories, no longer closed boxes but with blurred boundaries to the discovery and community spaces. This breaks down the importance and rigidity of the sterile classroom and suggests more opportunities for children to take charge of their own learning.
Simplified Representation of the Current System of Learning Image by author.
Today: Linearised Learning
In recent years, education has developed towards building relationships between students through group work, where students can come together to solve the problem presented by the teacher, either through in-class exercises or through a group project over an extended time.
Learning has been simplified into a single linear process, much like that of a manufacturing process. Schools today revolve around efficiency, due to the large number of students and the limited number of teachers. 1 A result of the industrial revolution, the mass education system was more effective at producing manual workers than it was college Discovery is seldom part of this equation and is more likely to act as a bonus, where the teacher is graduates2. able to show the class how the problems taught in In the traditional classroom model, time is the class can be applied in the real world. This becomes constant and learning becomes the variable3. Lessons a very prescriptive process that limits the “active are built around a fixed timetable in classes made learning” of each student by only allowing limited up of students of the same age but differing learning decision making. abilities. This highly industrialised and standardised process results in a loss of the development of the individual. A one-size-fits-all approach assumes that all students enter with the same capabilities and interests. Formal education is made of up three main elements, curriculum, teaching and assessment4. This is typical throughout the world. Students are taught to solve problems developed by teachers, with clear right and wrong answers. Students spend most of their time in the classroom, either absorbing techniques for answering examination questions through lectures or practising these techniques. Often there is a repetition of problem solving exercises, “rote learning”, a common technique for the concept to be committed to the learner’s short term memory. 5 1 Richard Gerver. Creating tomorrow’s schools today: education-our children-their futures. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. 2 Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica. Creative Schools: The grassroots revolution that’s transforming education. Penguin Books, 2016. 3 John V. Antonetti and James R. Garver. 17,000 Classroom Visits Can’t Be Wrong: Strategies That Engage Students, Promote Active Learning, and Boost Achievement. ASCD, 2015. 4 Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica. Creative Schools.
John V. Antonetti and James R. Garver. 17,000 Classroom Visits 93
Scientific Method Image by author, based on diagram from â€œHow Science Works,â€? Understanding Science, 2012, , accessed June 1, 2017, http://undsci. berkeley.edu/lessons/ pdfs/how_science_ works.pdf.
The Scientific Method
The vastly different nature of these stages suggests a need for a wide variety of spaces, some that need to Perhaps to effectively deconstruct the existing method of instruction is to apply a scientific be kept secret while others require close proximity. approach to learning. Instead of the previous model from application to evaluation to exploration, we can Implementing this system as part of active learning envision learning as a reciprocal and almost cyclical could bring forth a form of personalisation even at a process that involves communication back and forth young age. “Ideas” are different from “answers” and between all of these stages. This stages now revolve inspire more ownership and involvement. around “the testing of ideas”, another perspective at solving problems in the traditional way.
In this model, the starting point for learning begins from discovery and exploration, but this does not mean that it never returns. Students may find in the middle of testing of ideas that they require more information and would go back to discovery rather than submitting to the evaluation and waiting for the right answer. This would also work to inspire curiosity and interest, something very lacking from the current system. The “testing of ideas” suggest independence from the right and wrong answers and rather work more like progressive increments. It suggests that the teacher take on the role of facilitator rather than a lecturer and helps to evaluate each iteration rather than to provide the right answer right away.
It is applying the “making” mindset of getting our hands dirty in order to learn by discovering our own mistakes1 rather than learning from the model answers. Community analysis and feedback opens up to more opportunities for sharing different opinions about a wider scope, instead of the typical discussion where by the students simply race each other to solve to answer the same question directed by the teacher.
1 Dale Dougherty, Free to Make: How the Maker Movement is Changing our Schools, our Jobs, and our Minds (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2016), 165. 95
ASFS Science Lab, n.d. Digital Rendering, available from https://edbacker. com/c/asfs-sciencelab
Integrating Experiences Experiential learning and its relevant spaces have been a new focus to encourage more involvement from the student. Students are able to use their five senses to internalise and apply concepts from the classroom. Experiential spaces also break the monotony of lecture-style instruction and help to deal with the short attention spans of young children. Children aged 7 have been known to have short attention spans below 30 minutes1, just equal to lesson block. Teachers with lessons longer than thirty minutes often have to integrate more experiential and spatial learning to help these students to focus. Different subject matters require different nature of spaces, some more experiential than others. Though integrating spatial experiences into every aspect of learning may appear to be a challenge, this thesis aims to holistically connect them through the principles of the scientific method: through discovery and exploration, testing of ideas, evaluation of outcomes and community analysis and feedback. To imagine learning through the scientific method, we list each possible activity and categorise them according to each stage of the methods. It is imperative to understand that many of such spaces already exist in Singaporean schools but are simply not well integrated into the curriculum perhaps due to limited support from the government, more immediate priorities to satisfy the needs of standardised testing, or even because the space-planning does not facilitate it. 1 Kenneth E. Moyer, â€œThe Concept of Attention Spans in Children,â€? The Elementary School Journal 54, no. 8 (1954)
Science is the discovery and rationalisation of the environment, be it natural or built. Naturally this translates to a large number of spaces already dedicated for exploration of such concepts. The science curriculum requires students to be able to navigate their way through a typical science lab, performing experiments with plants, magnets and other simple experiments.
We imagine creating an environment that focuses less on the theory and lecture-delivery but more about enforcing the links between the spaces that are already present in these schools. This may involve redesigning or relocating these spaces to be more effective in serving each stage of the scientific method.
However, perhaps it is the prescriptive nature of the activities that dull the innate wonder and curiosity of these children. Despite having eco-gardens freely accessible and even wildly populated during recess time, one would hardly see children identifying concepts and applying them in their formal curriculum.
Types of Rooms and Activity organised according to the Scientific Method Table by author
Stage of Scientific Method
Types of Spaces
Discovery and Exploration
Natural environment (Eco-garden) Built environment (Building systems)
Testing Ideas & Evaluation of Outcomes
Discussing Writing Making Inventing
Project studios Science labs Computer labs
Community Analysis and Feedback
Exhibition spaces Amphitheatres
Pakeman Primary Science Lab, n.d. Digital Photograph, available from http://www. pakemanprimary.co.uk/ school-info/premises/
Bukit View Secondary School, 2016. Digital Photograph, available from http://www.straitstimes. com/lifestyle/homedesign/grow-forth-andlearn
Jun Yuan Primary School, 2013. Digital Photograph, available from http://techtrek2013. blogspot.sg/2013/02/ junyuan-primary-schoolvisit.html
Language and Social Sciences
The teaching of languages can be tricky as it is intuitively not as visual and experiential as sciences. Language itself seldom has any order or sequence to learning, its nature itself also proving that the linearised learning is not optimised. Rather, the command of languages can only be improved with more extensive experiences and practice. For example, a student cannot learn English through the continual answering of exam questions or the continual writing of compositions. Instead, they require input and inspiration from daily life and experiences in order to apply more useful vocabulary and more creative narratives.
These two subjects have the capacity to supplement each other, not as a direct cause and effect but rather each of them provides the background for experiencing and learning the other. From the typical listening (lecture), writing (examinations) and speaking (oral examinations), we re-imagine the activities to include activites that typically are associated with independent learning and projectbased learning. For example, students can learn through the world of books, if the library or minilibraries are integrated into the system. They can then apply ideas by writing or performing a play.
Social studies, a simpler version of geography and history taught in primary school is the same. Its dry content can be more effectively taught through experiences and perhaps should be grouped together with language studies instead. Types of Rooms and Activity organised according to the Scientific Method Table by author
Stage of Scientific Method
Types of Spaces
Discovery and Exploration
Library Computer labs Listening rooms
Testing Ideas & Evaluation of Outcomes
Discussing Writing Filming Acting Practising a play
Discussion zones Quiet writing zones Drama studios
Community Analysis and Feedback
Performing Giving a speech
Performance theatres Amphitheatres Recording studio
Performing Arts Studio at Park View Primary School, 2009. Digital Photograph, available from https://www.schoolbag. sg/story/a-closer-look-atnew-learning-spaces-inprimary-schools
Amphitheatre at Fairfield Methodist Primary School, 2009. Digital Photograph, available from https://www.schoolbag. sg/story/a-closer-look-atnew-learning-spaces-inprimary-schools
Media Hub at Beacon Primary School, 2009. Digital Photograph, available from https://www.schoolbag. sg/story/a-closer-look-atnew-learning-spaces-inprimary-schools
Mathematics can be more experiential than what is being taught in school. Geometry can be taught through the measuring exercises in controlled or uncontrolled environments instead of delivering of abstract rule after rule. Simple operators can be taught using simulated business settings, using money which may be more intuitive to some weak students. Ratios and fractions can be taught with hands-on baking or mixing. These methods would possibly require more effort and energy on the teacherâ€™s part, however these proposed spaces could facilitate instead of hinder by allowing the children to learn independently on their own and cultivate life-long learning rather than examination-oriented learning.
Types of Rooms and Activity organised according to the Scientific Method Table by author
Stage of Scientific Method
Types of Spaces
Discovery and Exploration
Built environment (Building systems, business setting, baking studios)
Testing Ideas & Evaluation of Outcomes
Measuring Calculating Counting
Project studios Built environment (Building systems, business setting, baking studios)
Community Analysis and Feedback
Exhibition spaces Amphitheatres
Texas A&M Math Circle, 2012. Digital Photograph, available from http://www.science.tamu. edu/news/story.php?story_ ID=978#.WSa4Ucap3aY
Geometry Hands-on Exercises, 2016. Digital Photograph, available from http:// middleschoolmathman. blogspot.sg/2016/02/ angles-triangles-and-startof-geometry.html
Pattern Making Exercises in Sherbourne Primary School 2017. Digital Photograph, available from http://www.sherbornepri. dorset.sch.uk/practicalmaths-is-fun-ingrasshopper-class/
Music and Art
Music and art is already taught in an experiential way as it requires the student to be physically and mentally involved in the process. However, in the more scientific scheme of things, it may be more beneficial to integrate discovery and community more into the system. We can possibly delinearlise the relationship between watching, practising and presenting in music education, and perhaps mix it up. Children new to the instrument may not be comfortable constantly observing a well-rehearsed performance and feel overly pressured instead. On the other hand, one that is constantly practising may be inspired by community feedback and also more discovery. We propose similar situations for visual arts, whereby students may be more inspired simply because they are more immersed in the entire experience. Types of Rooms and Activity organised according to the Scientific Method Table by author
Stage of Scientific Method
Types of Spaces
Discovery and Exploration
Observing Watching Touching
Cinema theatres Museums Interactive exhibits
Testing Ideas & Evaluation of Outcomes
Specialised studios (Music studio, Visual arts studio, Photography studio)
Community Analysis and Feedback
Exhibition spaces Amphitheatres Performance theatres
Middle School Art Studio, Chapin School, n.d. Digital Photograph, available from http://lilcghana.appspot. com/uploaded/photos/ tour/fullsize/9_ms_art2. jpgY
KidsSTOP Exhibtion at the Singapore Science Centre, 2014. Digital Photograph, available from http://www.cheekiemonkie. net/2014/06/kidsstopsingapore-science-centrefor.html
A case study in the United Kingdom, Grange Primary School, led by Principal Richard Gerver found that empowering children through application based learning often resulted great success in overall academic performance.1 The town included its own newspaper and various retail outlets that would be managed by the students themselves. The teachers would also have a short break during lessons to allow students brainstorm about applying and linking the current lesson to their “jobs”.
school is fenced off, typically with tall chickenwire. By eradicating these fences and reorganising these spaces, the public themselves will be able to enter and be involved in application of concepts, not only benefitting the children but also the entire community.
Essentially, this creates a curated version of life that will not overwhelm children, yet helps to take the first steps in understanding it. Many programs in a typical school incorporate some element of life and application, however the entire 1 Richard Gerver. Creating tomorrow’s schools today: education-our children-their futures. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. Types of Application Spaces according to Subject Matter Table by author
Types of Spaces
Urban Farming (Indoor and Outdoor)
Canteen Entrepreneur Centers
Formal Performance Theatre Printing Press Broadcasting Centre
The Grangeton Shop Digital Photograph, from Richard Gerver. Creating tomorrowâ€™s schools today: education-our childrentheir futures. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.
Site Context To avoid any preconceived notions or ideas about the project, we have selected an empty site in Simei that has been premarked for education on the 2014 masterplan. It is surrounded by relatively new HDB estates and walkable distance to Simei MRT station and the new Changi South Station on the Downtown Line. Its close proximity to the Changi Business Park, the Singapore University of Technology and Design and even Changi General Hospital may also provide opportunities for industry exposure to inspire these young minds to draw mental links between curriculum and real life on their own.
Schools in Simei: Changkat Changi Secondary School (Left), Changkat Primary School (Right) Images by author
Void Deck Childcare and Kindergartens: Cana Bible Presbytarian Church Before and After School Care Centre (Left), Maris Kidz Schoolhouse (Right) Images by author
Void Deck Childcare and Kindergartens: Iman Kindergarten and Childcare (Left), PCF Changi Simei Blk 233 (Right) Images by author
Major Amenities: Simei MRT (Left), Eastpoint Mall (Right) Images by author
Major Amenities: HDB Shopping Street at Blk 248 Images by author
Smaller Amenities: 7-Eleven Convenience Store at Blk 228 (Left), 7-Eleven Convenience Store at Blk 156 (Right) Images by author
Sports Areas: Integrated Fitness Park at Blk 136 (Left), Badminton Courts at Blk 149 (Right) Images by author
Sports Areas: Netball Courts at Blk 226 (Left), Badminton Courts at Blk 123 (Right) Images by author
Park Connector: Towards East Coast Park (Left), From Tampines (Right) Images by author
Parks: Simei Park (Left), Meragi Park (Right) Images by author
Playgrounds: Blk 253 (Left), Blk 136 (Right) Images by author
Playgrounds: Blk 225 (Left), Blk 154 (Right) Images by author
Playgrounds: Blk 227 (Left), Blk 156 (Right) Images by author
Playgrounds: Parc Lumiere (Left), Blk 117 (Right) Images by author
The Sectional Model
Classrooms have a bad reputation. Here we imagine the new unit of learning not as a single room but a combination of rooms that are arrange strategically in a certain manner. Using the three way relationship between three different types of experiences, discovery, testing and community feedback, we propose a section that illustrates the flow of activity between each space. We aim to redefine the boundaries between each space, hopefully blurring as much as possible.
In all of these scenarios, we see the student as the center of learning, being involved with experiences rather than passively receiving information. We aim to dissolve the teacher-student hierarchy in the classroom, and instead propose that the teacher acts more as the facilitator. In essence, there are no more classrooms, but rather specific types of spaces tailored for a specific type of experience. A class can take place in one of these spaces or go through all three. The goal is not to dictate how the teacher should teach but provide such spaces that will make learning possible.
In the natural science model, we see a loop, starting from discovery space which flows seamlessly into the laboratory testing space, creating a semi-open environment. This then slowly builds up into the formalisation of learning, not through examinations, but through sharing and presentations (community feedback). This space then links back to the discovery space, allowing the speaker to refer back for more effective understanding. In the social science model, we see a gradual progression of speaking spaces. Social sciences and languages are typically taught through speaking and reading, hence the discovery space presents itself as a library-type space coupled with small informal sharing spaces. Students can then take the information and conduct tests, which could happen as a form of speech or writing. The final stage takes place in a formal presentation setting, whereby the student has gone through enough testing back and forth and is ready to face a larger scale of community feedback.
Simplifying learning into two major units, isocial and natural sciences, instead of pigeonholing them into individual subjects such as English, Math, Science and Mother Tongue, allows the learning unit to take on more flexibility than the multipurpose classroom. In this case, we allow for specific types of experiences in and around the learning unit.
larger space to work on projects that may not fit on the table-top workspace. The other facade may be utilised as a planting zone for small planting experiments in a rather controlled environment. A small amphitheatre-like space for 40 students (the maximum class size in Singapore) sits next to the discovery space as a good location for the teacher to introduce concepts and point out the relevant examples.
Learning should not be a stagnant activity. By proposing activities outside of lecture-like lessons, we also propose movement and a journey around the different experiences in order to solidify concepts. As such the multipurpose classroom is transformed into range of spaces for the teacher to use and inspire.
The social science unit focuses on social and communal interaction. Within the unit, reconfigurable layouts are enabled by movable chairs and tables, allowing for different sizes of groups to congregate and discuss. This is directly connected to the library/mediahub-like space, where a wealth of information through books and computers are The natural science spaces is closely connnected readily accessible. The media-hub also features to outdoor discovery space through a very porous different scales of presentation and sharing spaces facade that acts both as ventilation and as doorways. in order to formalise these experiences. An area next to this facade is left empty, for a A semi-open classroom for experiential learning in natural sciences. Render by author.
As such we aggregate the learning units in ways where each unit has the access to its relevant experiences. The entire school comes together as a layer of experiences, each tier specific to an age group, showing the level of maturity needed to experience each new area. The bottommost is allocated to the older children, aged 10 to 12, where they are able to apply their learning directly into spaces linked to the community around the school. This is important especially because children learn well when given real-life responsibilities1. In order to facilitate this, we elevate the main body of the school by a level and eradicate the security fence. The main body is surrounded by a â€œmoatâ€? of community-linked program. These are divided into social science program (event space) and natural science program (business and farming). The learning units are positioned on site accordingly to match these program. As the school moves upwards, we create smaller scale of environments as a response to the younger demographic of students, aged 8 to 9. In the middle tier, there is an opportunity for shared crossover learning spaces, where subjects can come together for integrated learning. For example, a mathematics and physics discovery zone can be designed by the teachers on level 3, on an area directly accessible by four different learning units. Hence science teachers and math teachers do not have restrict themselves to designing in class demonstration but instead take pupils out to the discovery zone to understand the subjects relation to others.
1 Richard Gerver. Creating tomorrowâ€™s schools today: education-our children-their futures. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. 126
The top most tier transitions into smaller private environments. This takes into account the ability of younger children, aged 7 to 8, and refrains from overwhelming with too much stimuli. Hence focused environments that takes topics one at a time are created. Students are introduced to experiential learning in bite-sized pieces and are allowed freerein to roam around the smaller spaces.
Plant science discovery
PRIVATE ENVIRONMENTS (P1 - P2) Plant science discovery General IT & media discovery Plant science discovery
Informal small presentation space
General IT & media discovery
SHARED ENVIRONMENTS (P2 - P3)
Mathematics and physics discovery
Plant science discovery
Informal large presentation and performance space LL
Informal small presentation space General IT & media discovery
Natural science units (Mirrored)
Elevated platform as an alternative to security fence
Intermediate semi-public platform for large assembly
PARAD MORN E SQUARE / ING AS SEMBL Y
APPLIED ENVIRONMENTS (P4 - P6) FABRIC
Informal large presentation space
Perimeter circulation surrounded by public program
Formal large presentation theatre THEATRE
Social science units (Mirrored)
Plant science discovery Agriculture science discovery
Steps taken to organise school layout Diagrams by author.
1:500 Massing Model Image by author.
Iteration 1 Interlocking of blocks to symbolise relationships between different types of program
Iteration 2 Introduction of the “moat” surrounded by “life” programs.
Iteration 3 Introduce staggering and terracing of massing to create different outdoor zones and learning environments.
Iteration 4 Drawing links between program to form three way circulation system.
Iteration 5 Applying terracing on natural science block to create private discovery spaces, linked with bridges for shared discovery spaces. Stepped back floor plates on social science block to decrease the scale of the space with respect to presentation and performance spaces.
Natural Science Block, Sectional Model 1:100 Natural science units in relation to varied discovery spaces.
Social Science Block, Sectional Model 1:100 Different scales of presentation and sharing spaces in relation to the social science units.
Multi-section axonometric Varied experiences through the school compound and their relation to the spaces around them
7. 8. 9.
10. 11. 12.
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Mdm N.A. East Primary School 03 April 2017
- What are the considerations you have when you plan each lesson? What sort of difficulties do you expect and how to you go around them? Much of it is guided by the syllabus outcomes, which provide structure for the teachers but still allow for some freedom in decision making. As an English teacher, it is important to anticipate problems, however children are very unpredictable and often we receive silly responses and have to work on developing those.
Education 1. Is there one thing about the world outside the classroom that you wished someone taught your younger primary school self? Public speaking and collaborative skills. How to work in groups. Previously back when I was a student there werenâ€™t much opportunities to work 5. Have you noticed a change in the way you teach together with my peers. over the years? Yes, 15 years ago facilities were not so up to date. 2. How long have you been teaching? 17 years at Park View Primary School. I teach English There was less IT support. I also realise that children today donâ€™t like to read. They prefer online material to Primary 5 and 6. instead of physical books. 3. How do you conduct your class? - E.g. What are your classes like? What kind of activities do you conduct? What kind of materials do you prepare (worksheets, games, activities?) I spend 10 minutes first on delivering prior knowledge, then I move into lesson development, which can be through videos, computer work or discussions. I end off with a conclusion rehashing what we have learnt that day. For example, if the theme is on marine conservation, I will first ask the students what are the prior knowledge they know about the subject. They will form groups and start a list. Then I will ask them what else do they want to find out and regroup them again according to the different categories. Afterwards I will show a video and ask them if the video answered their questions. Most of these depend on the needs of the students, it is important as the teacher to know what they are like, how active are they. We need to use activities to engage them to explore. Sometimes I make them do some research online or immerse them in a world of books.
6. What are your opinions on group learning, experiential learning, and newer methods (if any) of teaching? I use a social media tool similar to twitter where I encourage students to pen down their thoughts and post reflections. My classes actually do use flipped learning. A week before I will post a video online and ask the students to answer three questions in their reflections. When we start the class next week we do not have to start from scratch.
7. How do you think or hope that education will change in the future especially with the development of technologies? I think that education is moving along well ith technology. There needs to be a shift in mindset among the very senior teachers as there is difficulty in getting them to switch styles of teaching. As the Head of Department, I have been engaging teachers, both senior and new to communicate online via our google chat. Its important to talk about professional development, to keep teachers up to date with new pedagogies. 4. How do you go about organising the overall lesson plan? 146
Architecture 1. What are your methods to find inspiration for lessons? We are connected to teachers around the world through international teachers’ associations. As for me, I love watching TED talks and often find themes from there. For example, I conducted a class based on gratitude because I was inspired by how one girl felt grateful over a penny. 2. Do you find yourself inspired by the structure of the school? For example, the various facilities, or some spatial qualities? Not exactly, I work with what I have. I love using mobile computer carts in the classroom.
provided for the children. Student’s needs need to come first and these facilities give teachers more opportunities to make the lessons more exciting. 7. What is your favourite place in the school and why? I have a secret hideout at the sound room on the fourth floor. I blast music there and bring all my work there. I myself find the cubicle very constricting and would rather work in a less formal area.
3. Have you found yourself restricted by the limits of the space? Yes, I often need to bring the students out of the classroom. It is very hard to maintain the attention of 40 students over one whole hour. Sometimes I bring them to the library, or the computer lab if there are computer based activities. 4. If you could change one thing about any space in school, what would it be? A classroom. My ideal classroom would have students working in groups, a corner in the back with beanbags to hangout, a “daily 5” board of questions for stronger kids to explore when they are done with their work. 5. Have you taught in a school that has been through upgrading works (PRIME)? - Have you experienced a school before and after upgrading works? Yes, this school had a major upgrading 8 years ago, where they added a library and a performance theatre that can fit 250 pax. They installed the sound systems as well. 6. How do you find the changes or additions to school? I am very happy that more facilities are being 147
Lim Yuan Chin (Ms Lim) Dunman High School 8 March 2017 Education 1. How long have you been teaching? 我教书应该有十八年。 2. What ages/levels of students have you taught? 从中一到中四。以前在Siglap Secondary School, 现在就在 Dunman High School. 3. How do you conduct your class? Chalk and Talk? 我讲话很多，现在用powerpoint 来讲课。 4. How do you go about organising the lesson plan? 通常是用故事来让上课好玩一些。有时会有比赛 游戏，好像比赛听写之类的。一定要计划要花多 少时间放在每一个部分上面， 要不然一进去会不 知道要做什么。 在我上学时代的时候，我的老师从来不会跟学生 玩游戏的，所以我是不怎么喜欢跟学生玩游戏。 但是我觉得我跟他们比较的是后，有一点我觉得 是比他们做得好的是讲故事，跟学生分享我的人 生经验。 5. Have you noticed a change in the way you teach over the years? 会。以前开始教书的时候很可拍，因为每几年， 或是有个新的教育部长的是后，就会有个新的 initiative. 你可以想象吗，怎么在华文课里面 要溶入”entrepreneurship” 在里面？然后还 有 IT？每一两年就会有改变。这几年我开始有信 心的是不需要跟着这些initiative 一起走，因为 我自己本身不喜欢游戏，所以玩出来的游戏也不 会很好玩。每一个老师都会有自己的 teaching style，这是我教书这么多年发现的一件事。
of teaching? ok啊。我觉得学生是在自己学的时候学的最好， 或是跟朋友一起学。你可以一起做一个专题作 业。每一个学生都有自己的专常，有些人善常美 术呀，有些人善常整理资料。你不可以跟同样性 质的人在同样的组以为这样是学不到东西。 我们老师都会想办法把小组活动放在课里面。我 们现在中一就一定要做一个group project. 我这 两年会帮分配小组。我先会选那些华文不是很好 但是很有责任感的那些学生当组长。然后让他们 自己挑出一男一女做左右手。剩下的我来决定怎 么分。 我有试过experiential learning. 我曾经带过一 整班学生出去看篮球比赛，然后回来写作文。现 在如果做这些是可能会被家长投诉。我会鼓励学 生写他们的CCA 的经验，如果Level Camp 刚玩就 会叫他们写下他们对 Level Camp 的经验。 Architecture 1.What are your methods to find inspiration for lessons? 我会看videos，报纸。 2. Do you find yourself inspired by the spaces in the school? For example, the various facilities, or some spatial qualities? 我觉得我们学校没有这样的地方。 我曾经想过最好是老师要有自己的 homeroom. 学 生来我的课室，不是我去课室找学生。我可能会 设计角落，可以很舒服的看书。然后一个架子， 全都是我觉得适合学生看的书。在这个学校不 可能，我们有三百个老师，不够课室让我们做 homeroom. 我也希望有一个房间，可以当老师累的时候过去 休息睡觉一下子。因为有些老师在学校呆很久， 有些整十个小时。我自己是七点到学校，有时晚 上七点才会家。有时真的希望有一个地方可以睡 个觉。Staff Lounge 是老师吃饭聊天的地方，所 以不是很conducive 的地方。
3. Have you found yourself restricted by the limits of the space? 6. What are your opinions on group learning, 的课室 experiential learning, and progressive methods 你记得以前四楼有一个”wall-less” 148
吗？我很喜欢那个地方，我一直想象可以在那个 地方做什么事。好像有带学生去过那边，在那边 教了一个朗读的课。它是一个没有墙的课室，它 的感觉很不一样。你就任何事都可以做，可能做 些表演，做些朗读。
7. What is your favourite place in the school and why? Outdoor Basketball Court. 不会像ISH 一样闷， 以 前 我 在 中 正 读 书 的 时 候 ， 我 们 E n g l i s h 傍晚时候风吹觉得很爽。 Literature 课的时候，每个礼拜都会到湖边朗 读 Shakespeare，或是在旁边听老师讲课。感觉 是完全不一样的。别的学校会有一种Speeches Corner，很像一个amphitheatre 之类的。 How about making the classrooms less formal? 我觉得只能改变排座位的方法。我特别喜欢DHS Junior High 的课室，因为它的地方比较大，然后 后面的橱柜我还蛮喜欢的，但是学生老师都没有 好好利用。 4. If you could change one thing about any space in school, what would it be? 回复没有墙的课室。 还有一个可以容纳整个班的地方。目前没有这种 地方，我们正心元太过public, 谁都可以看的到。 如果要一个Speaker’s Corner，不可以放在一个 每个人都会做过的一个地方。 5. Have you taught in a school that has been through upgrading works? Yes. 我来的第一年，德明还没有搬去Mount Sinai，然后搬回来到现在。 6. How do you find the changes or additions to school? For example, circulation around the lab spaces? 我喜欢JuniorHigh的课室比较大。有时我们有 Parent-Child Day，如果需要把座椅排到旁边去， 我们还是会有足够的位子来进行活动。 不好的地方就在bad planning. 我们的PAC 整个舞 台不是一个参与过舞台演出的一个人。ISH也不是 一个运动员或体育老师design 出来的样子。 整个学校的大小没有去 plan, 如果整个学 校，Junior and Senior High，如果要一起进行一 149
Neo Sock Khim (Mrs Chan) Dunman High School 8 March 2017 Education 1. How long have you been teaching? I have been teaching for 20 years. I started first in Temasek JC (TJC), then moved on to Tampines JC (TPJC) and I am here right now at Dunman High (DHS). 2. What ages/levels of students have you taught? I have only taught chemistry for Junior College students. 3. How do you conduct your class? I structure my classes based on the profiles of the students. For each concept, I have to determine the level of bridging required for each class, depending on the difficulty of the concept itself. In TPJC where I taught weaker students, I have to either provide scaffolding or bridging questions for the more complicated and tougher concepts.
Yes, of course. However this is mainly due to the changing profiles of students I have faced from the different schools. When I first started at TJC, I used to be the type of teacher who only delivered content at the front of the class. Then at TPJC, I started to use more visual and participative learning especially with the weaker students. That is where the scaffolding, diagrams, discussion and group work come in. I do think that too much group work can be bad. Especially because the systems requires the teachers to evaluate the students and group work does not exactly align with the formative assessment (class tests) and summative assessment (A levels).
Perhaps group work can be seen more as a tool to help in teaching rather than an actual method of assessment? Yes, I do see the merits of that. On top of that, I also think that peer teaching and peer evaluation is a good tool to help students to learn. The teachers are mostly responsible to help students to learn what they cannot do on their own at home. Peer teaching can help to fill in the gaps, to reinforce certain I do allow the students to engage in group work, concepts that weaker students may have missed. for example, for Chemistry experiment planning questions, I will ask the students to do their own 6. What are your opinions on group learning, preparations then discuss to have a combined experiential learning, and progressive methods answer. This allows the students to share and of teaching? compare and strive for better quality of work that I would love to integrate more of this if it is possible. their peers are producing. I always think of bringing the students to a perfume factory where you can see organic chemistry in 4. How do you go about organising the lesson action. It also ties in well with industry exposure, to plan? help the students understand that what they learn I start with defining the targeted concept / learning in school are not concepts in isolation. objective for the particular lesson. I have realised in my years of experience that in order to make On experiential learning, practical assessment is learning meaningful, you need to make the students trying to improve to help students think through see and identify relationships, between different the skills that they learn. We are trying to move topics, subjects or even with the real world. from the prescriptive model to a more independent one. 5. Have you noticed a change in the way you teach over the years? What about games in class? 150
Sometimes, if time permits I will organise games in think the walls restrict much of the learning. For class but mostly for revision. I normally use games example, I read that Finnish education allow the to spice up the dry topics, such as the periodic table. students to get lost in the woods in order for them to learn wayfinding with a compass. It may not be 7. How do you think or hope that education so applicable to JC students, but it would be great will change in the future especially with the for lower levels of students, to give them the space development of technologies? where they can explore. They need a way to put the I actually hope that we will rely less on technology. practical and exploratory part into the teaching in I have noticed an increasing number of students order to make the theory more relevant. who are addicted to it and personally I think that introducing gadgets and technology into the I have this dream of using the cooking lab as part curriculum will only encourage that. of chemistry lessons. It just makes so much sense as cooking has many elements of organic chemistry in Architecture it. It is just a shame as in many schools boundaries 1. What are your methods to find inspiration for are very clear. The cooking lab is for CCA only, and lessons? to cook in the chemistry lab is dangerous as there is Maybe not so much of lessons, but I find myself a clear rule that one should not consume anything sourcing for exam questions from newspaper in the lab. articles. For example, I recently read an article about renewable resources and waste and thought it 4. If you could change one thing about any space would be a good idea to convert it into a chemistry in school, what would it be? question. I would change the structure of the classrooms to enable custom sizes. Smaller class sizes will need a 2. Do you find yourself inspired by the structure smaller, more conducive room. Mobile chairs. More of the school? For example, the various facilities, aisles for teachers to check on students. Why not or some spatial qualities? open up the classroom to combine with another I would love to be inspired by a variety of space. class, or even swap teachers? Back in TPJC, we had more fluid arrangements of furniture so that allowed for more variations. Over 5. Have you taught in a school that has been here in DHS, we have a more rigid arrangement and through upgrading works? little space for movement. No. 3. Have you found yourself restricted by the limits of the space? Yes, in lecture theatres it is hard to plan and do demonstrations. Sometimes it is not so much the space, but the safety regulations that are imposed. For example, if I wanted to throw ethanol to start a fire, I would not be able to simply because it would be extremely dangerous. What about classrooms? Ideally, my classroom would be without walls. I
6. How do you find the changes or additions to school? For example, circulation around the lab spaces? Not applicable. 7. What is your favourite place in the school and why? I used to like the library, especially back in TJC and TPJC. Now it is simply too far away from the staff room. 151
SITE PLAN / FIRST FLOOR PLAN 153
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MArch Thesis Dissertation 2017 (unpublished) | Singapore University of Technology and Design | Architecture and Sustainable Design | A study...
Published on Sep 13, 2017
MArch Thesis Dissertation 2017 (unpublished) | Singapore University of Technology and Design | Architecture and Sustainable Design | A study...