School education can fundamentally change because of the war, – the expert

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School education can fundamentally change because of war, - expert

War can become a kind of catalyst for the transformation of school education space on the territory of Ukraine, according to the expert of the direction “Obrazovanie” Mykola Skyba of the Ukrainian Institute of the Future.

The Ministry of Digital, together with the Ministry of Education and Science, developed a strategy for the transformation of the education system. As Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Fedorov emphasized, it envisages a change in the approach to training and rethinking the teaching profession, up to the reconstruction of educational institutions. According to the official, there is an effort to transform the system so that children want to go to school. That is, there they must get rid of the Soviet past, non-functional premises and irrational use of space.

The statement was made during a workshop organized by the Ukrainian urban bureau Big City Lab. To a certain extent, this is a timely and encouraging message. In a timely manner, because plans for the restoration of schools are being prepared right now, teachers and charitable organizations are preparing requests for funding and expect it as soon as possible, because children need to study. Encouraging, because it is not only about restoring walls, but also about creating an environment. But there is a nuance.

At the same workshop, the representatives of the ministries noted that the transformation will take place on the basis of five main types of data — C, H, H3, Q, O. Like, in the future, pilot solutions for the reconstruction and restoration of destroyed schools will be developed. This is a little reminiscent of Ford with his famous: the car can be any color, if it is black.

It turns out that you can have any vision of the quality of space, but everything is within the limits of typical projects. So how does this differ from the Soviet approach to stamping a mass school and a mass person? Yes, most likely, the designers will design it all in pleasant pastel colors and add cozy trinkets that are easy to reproduce on a large scale. But will it give the expected quality of the educational process?

Here are some aspects of dozens of studies conducted over ten years:

  • Using the natural world. Natural light can improve mood and help students concentrate.
  • Creating spaces for group work: working in small groups is an important aspect of learning, because they form the ability to interact and cooperate.
  • Use of multifunctional spaces: we are talking about premises that can be used  in different ways, depending on the needs and requests of students, circumstances and challenges of time.
  • Using modern technologies: digital literacy for a modern person becomes as invariable as reading and mathematical calculation skills. Technologies that help support learning in the 21st century.

For example, specialists of the Center for Urban Design and Mental Health, London note such an aspect of mental health support in educational and health facilities as a sense of autonomy. It is about the opportunity for the client (for example, a student) to understand his spatial environment and to be able to make a certain choice in it. This can be the variability of routes around a school or college, the ability to change the arrangement of furniture, have access to a set of tools for working with the material, adjust the lighting for specific needs. Finally sitting on windowsills, lying on the lawn, using books in the library. In short, make a number of independent decisions and defend them. For the formation of an architect, this is simply a categorical imperative. After all, a high-quality project (technically, aesthetically, socially) is unlikely to be completed if the designer lacks the dignity, courage to have his point of view and the ability to prove it to others.

Achieving similar results presupposes a thorough study of the entire spectrum of human behavior. This requires an architect who must be able to work under “crossfire” different groups of interests, sometimes siding with one of them, sometimes finding a balance.

That is, the architect must be subject, he must have the opportunity to offer his vision. The pool of such architects still needs to be formed (in Ukraine, the Kharkiv School of Architecture is doing this) and to get them interested in projects related to educational spaces (a qualified architect has a whole stack of orders). Is it possible within standard projects? It is very doubtful. The competition format looks more adequate.

Firstly, there is competition and competition, and secondly, the architect, striving to make his movement the most convincing, immerses himself deeper into the context.

Well , and most importantly, when the community and the pedagogical team, and perhaps even the students themselves, participate in the development of the design task. Then they also become subjective and get a chance to at least think about what environment they learn best in.

Prepared by: Nina Petrovych