Breaking down school walls

At EdCamp Toronto, I had the chance to start a very interesting conversation about making a lobby into a learning hub. So my first question was…what is a learning hub? In this case, it was a place for conversation. This was very intriguing and the conversation led to a visit last week to the school. While at the school, I noticed the design of control, from the words used in signage “Visitors report to the office”, the way the furniture is laid out, only the teachers name on the classroom door, the fence around the playground, the endless beige walls. Schools screams of do what I tell you to do. Don’t run. Don’t yell. Don’t speak out. Don’t pass notes. When do these don’ts lead to – Don’t listen. Don’t learn. Don’t think. How is the spatial design of a school changing the social space of learning? Schools are designed with the intent to keep kids safe and to create optimal learning environments. How different might these spaces look if we involve our kids in the design? The design of the signage? The design of the furniture? The design of the learning? What then?

The visit I had stirred a lot of questions and the school I visited seems primed to start these conversations and project with their kids. They already have paper taped to the walls to talk to their students about library books and what should we do better. They host movie nights. They encourage nature hikes in the parks. They have art created by their students in the lobby and the library. They have breakfast clubs. Their students say hi to people in the community. They want more. They know they can create a collaborative and imaginative student body, engaged parents and happy teachers if they share the responsibility of making the school safe and an optimal learning environment. Breaking down school walls takes a lot, but when we can do that we can open up the realm of learning to the community and to the world to build global citizens who are engaged and action oriented.

Inspire Yourself!