Educational change and the social project of Innovative Learning Environments in Aotearoa New Zealand

Bligh, Brett (2021) Educational change and the social project of Innovative Learning Environments in Aotearoa New Zealand. In: Pedagogy and Partnerships in Innovative Learning Environments : Case studies from New Zealand contexts. Springer, Cham, pp. 313-351. ISBN 9789811657108

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The term ‘Innovative Learning Environments’ (ILEs) describes a body of work, associated with the Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD), which has had substantial impact on many education systems. As with other ‘learning environment’ initiatives, a bundle of design suggestions, ideals and frameworks is put forward for the purpose of shaping educational change: in this case, in pursuit of ‘21st century learning’. Earlier scholarship on ILEs has investigated the achievement of outcomes, documented experiences in particular schools, and theorised issues viewed as particularly important for making ILEs ‘work’. In the present chapter, by contrast, I trace how the overarching initiative has unfolded across an entire polity—Aotearoa New Zealand—where ILEs have had government support for a significant period of time. Treating the preceding chapters in this volume as expert submissions to a principled enquiry, I conceptualise ‘ILEs in Aotearoa New Zealand’ as a social project. I contrast points of commonality and difference between the official OECD ‘international movement’, the preceding history of learning environments in the country, the recruitment of existing schools by policy mandate, and how aspects of the ILE framework are subsequently institutionalised and localised. At each stage I consider the key predicaments being posed to stakeholders, the core concepts used to guide action, the ethos expressing how those concepts should be pursued ‘correctly’, the gradual sedimentation of artefacts and routines, how institutional engagement is framed and handled, and those aspects of stakeholders’ lived experiences that propel ongoing development and change. I highlight, among other things, a significant conceptual fragmentation between changes in ‘educational practice’ and ‘physical estate’, the fraught development of a ‘horizontally connected’ ethos, and the increasing centrality of community relations and cultural values to the success of the project. I conclude by suggesting directions for further research on the topic.

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02 Nov 2021 16:05
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26 Nov 2023 00:46