Student Agency in Non-traditional Learning Spaces: Life In-Between and on the Fringes
Non-Traditional Learning Spaces (NTLS) boasting innovative building designs that embody an array of modern technology, visually and functionally sever schooling practices from the factory model, suggesting a reconceptualisation of what it is to ‘do school’ at the level of research and practice. This process of reconceptualisation includes reconceptualised pedagogical practice, and the development by students of spatial competency. In this regard, ‘student agency’ plays a significant role. For some years now, student agency has been prioritised by education policymakers and reformers alike, and it is a concept that has become central to questions relating to teacher practice and student life in NTLS. In this article, agency is construed as a contestable, politically domesticated construct that is reduced to student engagement with prescribed, mainstream and ‘official’ educational processes. We argue, instead, that the notion of student agency be taken beyond this sanitised usage, so that the broader complexity of agentic practices be understood. Understanding student agentic practice in NTLS is a critical dimension of the overall aim of more rigorously theorising spatiality, and in this article, we begin the task of considering how student agentic practices can be included in achieving that aim. Therefore, we discuss and explore the complexities of agentic student behaviour, considering where it is located in the complex relationship between the development of student spatial competence and mere compliance in NTLS.