Desks redundant in modern classrooms

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2013
classroom
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
COZY LEARNING: Clearview School in Rolleston has adopted a new style of teaching to accompany its new learning block. Beanbags, high tables and floor space allow children to find their own niche.

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Children learning in Clearview School's most modern classrooms do not have their own desks.

They sit on the floor, on bean bags, ottomans, or at tall desks with whiteboard surfaces they can write on. Classrooms are known as teaching spaces and children are not confined to the four walls of a traditional room.

This is the type of learning environment Christchurch can expect more of as new schools are built and others repaired following the earthquakes.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has repeatedly said the expected closures and mergers of Christchurch schools will result in the city having more modern schools with new facilities.

Clearview School in Rolleston opened in 2010 with 170 pupils and now has 540. To cater for the roll increase, a new $2 million to $3m teaching block opened at the school at the beginning of the year.

Clearview School principal James Petronelli said after using the new block for a term, the results had exceeded his expectations with high levels of engagement from the pupils.

"Teachers are saying they could never go back to the other way."

Petronelli said research showed children enjoyed working down low or up high so the school had catered for that when it bought furniture for the rooms.

He said children at school now would potentially move into jobs that do not exist now and schools needed to prepare children for that.

The open plan layout of the building allowed teachers to work more collaboratively together and focus on each other's strengths to teach the pupils, he said.

Teacher Tracey Young said pupils were taking more responsibility for their own learning and using their initiative.

Pupil Grace Godsmark, 12, said she enjoyed being able to interact with children from different classes.

Mackenzie Parker, 12, said he liked the whiteboard-topped desks because he could write on them to solve maths problems.

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