I am fascinated by the idea of reinventing the space in which children learn. I think this could be the most revolutionary and groundbreaking changes in education, which has been so stagnant for so long. I recently found a website for an organization called ““A Different Class” which is a beautifully designed website that won a webby, but also an admirable cause. This group of activists in Japan is trying to redefine how space is used for preschools. Due to the huge population in the city, especially in urban areas, traditional space on the ground is very limited. This group is thinking outside the box to say the least in order to create inspiring, spacious venues for preschools.
One of my favorite concepts is the preschool on top of a parking deck. Parking decks are so common in urban areas and often offer a large amount of space on top. This concept would not only create spaces within crowded communities, but also would create a unique point of view (literally) for the preschoolers.
Imagine being able to look out your classroom and have a bird’s-eye view of the city!
I think this would have to inspire creativity and encourage thinking of their surroundings in a different perspective. The other options are also compelling and innovative in their own ways, and I would be really interested in seeing how different settings for the preschools would impact how the children learn and grow to view the world around them. For instance, I wonder if being on top of a parking deck would inspire future architects or a over a canal would ignite interests in biology.
I know there are areas in America where there is a high concentration of school-aged children and a lack of space. However, when I researched scientific findings on the correlation of environment and learning, there seemed to be a lack of information regarding external environment. There was a great deal of information regarding how the inside environment- decoration, lighting, air quality- affects the learning capabilities of children. I believe we should take a page from the book of the organization in Japan and try thinking outside of the box when it comes to the physical space children inhabit for the majority of their days.
Lastly, I think this would not only be beneficial for the students who are learning in these environments, but also for teachers. It could help inspire creativity for lesson plans and foster an environment to explore the world outside the classroom. I think this would allow teacher to become more creativity with how they teach. They can pull specific examples from their surroundings. It is also known that work environments contribute greatly to the happiness of employers and teachers are no different. With teacher pay at low, low levels and increasing class sizes, I think a breath of fresh air, literally, would be welcome for these hardworking educators. ALthough this would in no means be a replacement for increased teacher pay or more manageable class sizes, I would be interested in how teachers responded to a new environment for them and their students.
In all, I think reimagining the space classrooms exist in is a very exciting prospect. It would take time, resources, and creativity, but I believe it would be well worth the effort to inspire and foster a more creative and worldly generation from the youngest ages.