This exploratory case study examined the kinds of activity that a ‘deskless school” (i.e., flexible physical school spaces) engenders among pupils and teachers. We also considered the meaning and significance that pupils and teachers attach to various features of the school, as well as the associated action possibilities. The data were gathered in a new school in the Helsinki capital area that was architecturally designed to have flexible learning spaces (FLS) without traditional classrooms or desks for pupils in an attempt to encourage pedagogical renewal. The participants comprised 17 pupils in one second-grade class and their two teachers. The data were collected by participant observation (15 lessons over 3 weeks) and interviews with the teachers and groups of pupils. Those working in FLS engaged in collaborative learning and teaching activities. Pupils worked constantly in pairs or small groups and studied collaboratively. They also incorporated mobility into their own learning activities and developed agency by choosing how and where they would work. In particular, they appreciated being able to collaborate with their peers and freely choose where and how to study. Teachers approved of the school environment’s facilitation of collaborative learning and highlighted the importance of professional co-planning and other aspects of collaboration. Overall, the design of school environments matters at the pedagogical and professional level. With thoughtful planning, such design can support deeper collaboration among teachers and pupils, foster knowledge sharing, and even develop pupils’ agency. Although the learning space itself does not ensure change, it does enable new kinds of interaction and joint learning activities.
- 516 Pedagogik