Setting the stage
Recently I was a guest at another university overseas, and while there I was shown one of their new buildings. The key thing about this building is that while it had fixed outer walls that made up the rectangular box shape of the building, inside the box absolutely nothing was fixed. My hosts explained to me with some pride that between one semester and another they could completely change the internal configuration. So right then it had three floors, and there were two large lecture theaters and two smaller ones, and a number of offices and labs and an atrium, they said they could ‘easily’ change that to four floors, no theaters, a number of seminar rooms, and open plan offices. And then a few months later change it all back again, without having to bring in any builders.
It reminded me immediately of a theatre stage, on which the scene could be changed within a minute or two to meet the needs of the narrative.
So is the era of the permanent fixtures in higher education buildings over? Is the scene of pedagogy changing so regularly that we need to be able to re-model the stage regularly? Perhaps it is, and perhaps this is something we should welcome; or at least be open to.
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