How to Value Individuality and Create an Enstatic School
Chapter 11: Working Together and Apart: Schools, Homes and Communities
Working Together and Apart:Schools, Homes and Communities
I don’t relax at school because I feel I always have to be on my toes.— LAURA (aged 12–13)
Introduction: Spaces to be Alone and Together
The physical environment of the school is an important way of enhancing opportunities for both solitude and sociability. Typical classroom design has changed over the last half century from individual desks facing the teacher to clusters of children sitting around tables, although other arrangements can still be found in some schools. The older format of classrooms was good for a more authoritarian didactic relationship between the teacher and children, but was worse for child-to-child interaction. It was the influence of social constructivism (for example of Vygotsky and Bruner), and the consequent wish to promote discussion and dialogue, that led to more opportunities for children and young people to work together. However, the group work promoted by this approach to learning was not always so good for promoting solitudinous study such as reading – with children interrupted by other children, or encouraged to discuss what they are reading almost at the same time as reading the text (Senechal 2012: 72–74). Corridors and playgrounds can be better or worse for solitude, with better places being quiet corners, seating areas, and rooms available for reading or sitting and thinking whilst others are playing socially. The tendency over the years has been for more constructed and ‘social’ activities ← 161...
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