Jasmine's tent


Photo by Steve Wheeler
There is a large, flexible learning space in Ormiston Junior College on the outskirts of Auckland. It's called a modern learning environment or MLE. In one of the corners, near a large window is Jasmine's tent. It's only a framework, no more than a semblance of a teepee really, but Jasmine sits comfortably inside and quietly gets on with her work. All around her, noisy, messy chaos erupts as the rest of the Ormiston students busy themselves with their learning.

Noise, said one teacher, means the children are engaged in making, testing, discussing and exploring. Open, modern learning spaces are dynamic and student centred, and they offer great opportunities for creative learning. They are appearing in schools everywhere as teachers and school leaders begin to realise the importance of flexible and open learning, where the student is the prime focus. MLEs have many advantages, but they not for everyone, it seems.

Jasmine is severely autistic and this used to mean that she would sit in the room with her coat over her head. The noise and the constant movement overloaded her senses and she couldn't cope. She would need to detach from her environment to protect herself. A simple idea of tying together some branches of wood was all that was needed and now she is included in the learning.

It doesn't look like much. There are no walls and she isn't shielded by the noise or the movement. But it is her space, and it's her perception of a space that she owns which is the important factor. Sometimes it's the simple ideas that make all the difference. And in Jasmine's case it is a game changer.

Creative Commons License
Jasmine's tent by Steve Wheeler was written in Auckland, New Zealand and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Comments

Dave Strudwick said…
Great post Steve. When you are really absorbed, whatever your needs, the room kind of disappears. How do we create learning that brings this energy to the space.

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