Time to Learn: The Influence of Innovative Learning Environments on School Organisational Practices in a Secondary School Context
Mittermeier, Belinda M.
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Educational futures discourse challenges the rigid organisational structures of traditional schooling models. Traditionally, time within schools is maintained and distributed through western approaches to administration and organisation, which are socially and culturally produced and often deeply ingrained in practice. The move towards Innovative Learning Environments is intended to support approaches that will provide students with broader access to individualised learning opportunities and relevant twenty-first century skills. Schools looking to implement innovative approaches to learning as part of the ILE implementation process have the opportunity to develop alternate organisational practices, particularly around time allocation. By gathering qualitative data from senior leaders, teachers and students at two New Zealand secondary schools implementing alternative organisational approaches, this study explores the relationships between organisational practices, pedagogy and learning environments, whilst critically examining the underlying priorities and values these altered systems imply. Foundational to this research is a critical theory perspective, underpinned by Foucault’s notions of the ‘control of activity’ alongside Illich’s understandings of the ritual of schooling. The research design takes the form of a case study investigating two sites implementing the phenomena, using semi-structured interviews alongside document analysis and observation as its research methods. Findings from this research show the complex interplay of time, space and pedagogy affecting the design and implementation of alternative organisational structures which have further implications for student and teacher experiences. The threads of time, space and pedagogy in turn challenge the traditional expectations of control and choice in the classroom, leading to discussion around whether these structures are a compelling alternative to the conventional approach. This research contributes to the broadening knowledge of future focused education approaches, addressing a gap identified in the existing literature by providing further perspectives of how organisational structure can reflect commitment to innovative practices and potentially provide students with opportunities for more inclusive and personalised learning opportunities.