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Re-thinking how we use space

The Third Teacher: The physical building and it's furniture

The concept of the "third teacher" comes from the idea that alongside the teacher and their peers, the environment is a child or young person's "third teacher". 


In the video below, architect Trung Lee challenges us as educators to think about how we use and organise space. 



Having watched this a couple of times, I wonder how we can apply the concepts without the beautiful refits. Many of our schools will be open to the ways of working Lee talks about, but working within buildings where learning spaces are separated from one another and nothing has wheels.


The empty space and it's potential

One approach to the dilemna that I really like, illustrated below by Rob Olazagasti, is to create immersion environments for learning that don't require a building permit, but do require bold, innovative teachers.


As a participant in such a learning experience, I can imagine that not only would I remember and be able to use the associated learning in years to come, but also that I would be inspired and motivated to transfer that model of engagement to other contexts. See what you think.


You can also watch "Thinking Big About Engagement" with an interactive transcript on YouTube. This is really useful if you want to revisit a quote or ponder an idea.


So if you read this and are working in a school or know of school that is bravely re-defining how it uses it's current environment and/or the furniture within it, I'd be really keen to find out more.



  • Chrissie Butler

    Just to add to the conversation, here is a this very eloquent synthesis of thinking about learning design from the Hingaia Peninsula School team who just opened their doors for the 1st time a few weeks ago.

    The way the team have pulled together their thinking is really inspiring. I especially like the grid on slide 18, which shows the principles underpinning the design and intentions for each learning space and the way they have been woven togther.


    Also here is a really engaging video of Stephen Heppell talking about why learning spaces need to change. It's possibly a really useful resource to share with parents and communities as a starting point for a conversation about our evolving learning environments.


  • Tessa Gray

    These are such great links, thank you Chrissie. It also fits well with the Enabling e-Learning thread @ 

    Personalised Learning and Flexible Learning Spaces which also references an article by Tung Le about the 'third teacher' concept Smile