What do you think when I say space?

Space is something I have thought about a lot, something about which I still have much thinking to do. It’s one of those simple words that slips into a conversation, where the speaker assumes that the listener shares his or her assumptions about its use.

Steve Collis lays his thinking on the line and invites us to examine how we think about technology and space and what constitutes a great space for learning. He leads us towards a sociomaterial appreciation of space and challenges us with the “so what?” question. So what does all this mean for those entrusted with curating the learning spaces of others?

Maybe our understanding of space – the absence of something, the distance between things, even the ‘flux’ in which exchanges occur – hinders our ability to see how we are connected to and shaped by everything; in as much as everything is connected to and shaped by us. Maybe if we start with learning ecology, rather than learning space, and move from there; asking how and why this shapes that and what is changed by its presence or absence, and did those changes hinder or help learning? Then maybe, we might begin to describe the intricate entanglements in which learning occurs in order that we might do a better job of inviting choices, that invoke activity, that enhances learning.

For it was intricate entanglements that I witnessed in those 549 hours of observation; it was neither built environment, nor technology, nor people, nor tools alone; but the spatial arrangement of all, woven together over time, which gave rise to encounters in which deep learning took root.


2 thoughts on “What do you think when I say space?

  1. Hi Pip. Loving reading and thinking along the lines of what you are writing about. If I may …. When I think about the therapeutic space, (in which learning about self occurs) I have found that as long as there is attunement between client and therapist, then the space i.e, surrounds or shape of the space, are almost irrelevant. Noise, however, breaks down the intersubjective space for me, and then my surrounds come into focus and either break the moment completely, or invite an opportunity to once again build ‘the space’.

    1. Hi Romny – thanks for adding to this space about space. Your comment foregrounds the relational aspect of space – that moment of exchange, even when that exchange is internal. What I love about the notion of ecology is the interactional dependencies that it alludes to. So much of learning is in the doing and doing often includes others. So I guess the question is how does one create an architecture that ‘nudges’ people towards moments of flow, both individually and in community?

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