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Revisiting The Third Teacher: An Interactive Design Conversation about Space, Pedagogy, and Culture

Session 4
Christian Long, David Jakes — Christian: Founder of The WONDer Project. David: Founder of David Jakes Designs

This conversation invites educators and allies to explore the architectural concept of “The Third Teacher” – via Italy’s famed Reggio Emilia model — as it relates to creating the conditions for the authentic, learner-centered school cultures we all hope to design and support.

As more educators and school teams proactively look to develop engaging and innovative physical spaces which support equally engaging and innovative learning communities, we are reminded to avoid the temptation to treat such design projects as ‘shopping trips’ rather than as holistic, mission-driven expeditions.

Reggio Emilia’s founder (and psychologist) Loris Malaguzzi believed that all students had three teachers in her / his life — the first teacher: adults; the second teacher: one’s peers; and the third teacher: the physical environment – which provided the context for all learning.

The concept of ‘the third teacher’ inspired the ground-breaking school architecture book The Third Teacher (and similarly named education-focused global design studio, where both Christian and David served). Instead of offering a prescriptive set of formal architectural rules, the spirit of the book and studio invited educators and community members to embrace their roles as designers of learning cultures that set the conditions for the emergence of authentic spaces.

This conversation will invite all attendees to explore how a human-centered design process can help align spatial, pedagogical and cultural elements to anchor their future learning communities. Participants will share their unique spatial challenges, engage in interactive workshop experiences, and have access to pragmatic resources to test in their own schools.

Conversational Practice

A wide range of interactive design workshop activities, including:

  • all-group participant case study story-telling session
  • quiet solo reflections
  • conversational partner 'empathy interviews'
  • small group ideation and prototyping sessions
  • small group presentations
  • all-group 'pattern identification' session
  • facilitator workshop guidance and final recommendations
  • all-group Google Doc resource sharing during and after the session

Conversation Links

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