How are we celebrating Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Learning Environments?
In early March I joined 20 other Mayfielders, a group of architects, teachers and designers, in Sydney for a whirlwind weekend workshop facilitated by NoTosh.
How can we create Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for all in both physical and educational design?
Investigate the role of learning spaces within communities and how we can embrace and celebrate aspects of JEDI.
We started by sharing our insights and research thus far – mine included, looking at third places as learning environments. How far do we push the definition of a learning environment? What does a learner look like? If you never stop learning, then you never stop being a learner. How can the spaces we have designated for learning, such as schools, parks or museums, facilitate learning for anyone in the community, regardless of age or stage?
This concluded with an understanding that learning environments, and the topic of JEDI, are far bigger than just the design of the space or the learning taking place.
We then picked apart justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, as individual concepts and collectively.
We learned that one does not exist without the others. We cannot know we are being inclusive if we aren’t giving everyone an equitable opportunity. We can promote diversity but without honest consideration for how inclusive we are being. These concepts support each other.
The workshop then unfolded with activities;
We were sent out to various public spaces around Sydney’s Surry Hills. Our aim was to analyse how JEDI was being implemented in these spaces. The plaza I visited had such low visibility at its entrances and exits, a thoroughfare directly through the accessible route and overall confusing navigation.
Through sketches, we presented back to the group how we might improve the space – looking at simple concepts like lighting and signage, which can help anyone navigate the busy space. Designing experiments to switch up the status quo of how the space is used – riding a bike through the pedestrian tunnel, switching the signs for entry and exit, really focusing on how the designed environment can exclude people unintentionally.
At the end of Saturday, we entered the ‘war room’ where we collaborated, argued and inspired each other to come up with a direction for this project. What were the overarching themes, and how could we test ideas that supported JEDI in learning environments?
We left Sydney inspired and motivated for the next 9 weeks of collaboration and prototyping. Our work since Sydney has evolved into four areas; Designers of Space, Designers of Learning, The Learners and Communities. Our work has focused on empowering these groups to invest in themselves and listen authentically.
Our presentation at the re: Activate Generating a City of Learning - LEA regional conference this week will unpack all our learning, research and prototyping and hopefully inspire some reflection on how JEDI can be better celebrated in all learning environments. To see more of our process ahead of the conference check out the @le_mayfieldproject Instagram.