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Learning Environments: Then and Now - Part 1

Innovation and Learning Leader P-6, Stuart Thornton, writes...

The picture attached to this article shows a classroom at the University of Bologna by Italian painter, Laurentius de Voltolina. It was created around 1350. Can I ask you to cast your mind back to when you were at school and see if there is a person (maybe there is more than one!) in this picture who you can identify with? Maybe you picked someone in the front row… keen, enthusiastic and eager to learn. Maybe you chose someone in the back two rows… not quite as engaged, maybe a bit of a chatterbox, or someone who fell asleep during class! This could be an interesting activity to do as a family.

Once you have done this, see how many similarities there are in the learning environment between this picture and the learning environment you spent time in. For example: the ‘teacher’ is positioned at the front of the room. See how many you can come up with.

What does a picture from Italy from hundreds of years ago have to do with the Junior School at Bundaberg Christian College in 2021? Surprisingly, quite a lot. As we have discussed already, students can still show the same behaviours in a classroom (enthusiastic, chatty, distracted, etc.) and the learning environment may still look similar in many ways.

At BCC our vision is:

We are committed to developing vibrant young people of Christ-like character, equipped to be transformational within their sphere of influence; by providing excellence through a dynamic and innovative learning environment.

As a Junior School staff, we are currently exploring and working through best practice in relation to learning environments and how these can influence students. Are there elements of approaches that are beneficial? What is the research saying in relation to learning environments? These are questions that need to be considered, with the student’s best interests driving any changes that take place.

It is an exciting time in the life of the Junior School. As we rethink the classroom environment, I look forward to sharing with you what we are doing to live out our school vision.


de Voltolina, Laurentius; C 1350; Liber ethicorum des Henricus de Alemannia; painting on parchment; 18cm x 22cm; Kupferstichkabinett Berlin