As Middle School Principal, David Wood has a keen eye on life after school. “Teachers often say that we’re preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, but I think that’s always been true,” he says. “What’s different now is the pace of social change: it’s so rapid, and future workplaces are changing too.”
At school, this means greater focus on concepts, interdisciplinary skills and values, and less emphasis on subjects in silos and content. Assessment methods are changing too, with grades taking a back seat to mastery.
“Kids learn naturally by trial and error. They don’t come to kindergarten obsessed with grades, we do that to them,” says David. “Providing a safe environment for kids to fail is incredibly important. Focusing on skill, competence and conceptual understanding is what motivates kids to learn.”
This has been a driving force behind the new project to build a purpose-built Middle School physically connected to the Upper School. According to Hans Fischer and Matthias Kneubühler of AMZ Architekten, the architects behind the project: “The building is planned as a ‘learning landscape’, with different-sized classrooms, outdoor areas and artistic spaces in different usable areas. By connecting the school buildings, various facilities can be shared by Middle and Upper School students. Close proximity makes learning very efficient.”
David is excited about the impact the environment will have on learning. He says: “Bigger art spaces and workshop areas will fuel students’ imagination and creativity and provide opportunities for working together. There are many great new features – flexible learning spaces, a media centre, a Makerspace area, dedicated STEM classrooms, music rooms and a theater, for example. There’s also an exciting new triple gym, part of a private/public partnership with the local authority in Adliswil that will mean we can share our facilities with the local community.
“And, importantly, sustainability is at the project’s heart. Our students are passionate about environmental issues and, as the building takes shape, they will be involved in the way their new environment looks and feels.”