Friday, 3 April 2009
I like to use it to explore the ambient sound in various new classrooms - they vary amazingly. Since decibels double every ten (ie 60 is twice as loud as 50) it is perhaps a surprise that a well designed room with sound baffling and a design that reflects multiple learning styles, even when it is a "home base" type space with 100 or so students in it and three teachers, can be comfortably in the mid 60s, while a similar sized space, with some of the pedagogy less well thought through (so that for example the teachers need to use microphones and their undirectional voices make it very hard to students to pause, focus and reflect), can be in the 80s, a huge difference.
These big, agile, multifaceted spaces can be very tranquil and calm places to learn. But only through good design and thoughtful attention to detail. I was in a school just recently where a huge screen; opposite a large window, offered a way for sound to bounce and reflect in a way that made it really quite unpleasant, while nearby another big three-classrooms-into-one new learning space development was tranquil and a joy to teach in.
As schools try out 21st century spaces, often in preparation for their new builds, this kind of evidence based action research really matters.