Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 359

Homes are designed to be conducive to living. Shouldn’t schools be designed to be conducive to learning? #QuoteADay #Day359 #edchat #satchat

Over the course of this year, our agency will be undergoing some design changes, culminating in a new roof, new flooring, and some changes to our conference room configuration happening this summer.

While this means multiple transitions for those of us who work here, it also means an opportunity to take a very innovative agency, and modify its design to match the forward-thinking mindset of its staff.
I’m excited for the opportunity to see this building in a new light.  Our physical structure certainly doesn’t match the power of the people within, and that’s a problem.

My family and I moved into a new home about a year ago.  We needed more space, and were ready to make the move from connected townhouse to stand-alone structure.  With the move came some growing pains (emotional, physical, and financial), but a year later, we’re happy with the new home we’ve designed.  It meets our needs and is conducive to living for my wife, me, and our two girls.  Form meets function; a house should be lived in, so it should be conducive to the process of living and all that goes with it. 

And yet, in my travels around to districts in the New York City suburbs, many schools are not conducive to the purpose they should serve: learning for all.  Despite the understanding that learning should happen within the walls of a school, our buildings are structured in ways that may have supported learning a half century ago, but no longer truly promote active learning and innovation.

While the response to this idea might be something along the lines of, “But, Fred, the changes you’re likely thinking of come at a price,” I ask you to consider the price that is already being paid by attempting to lead and learn in spaces that are no longer about leading and learning, but are instead about the status quo, and our immune response to changing.

Why do we tend to believe that innovative use of space must rest on an infusion of funds?  Why can’t we redesign the spaces we have with the resources already in our collective possession?  Or better yet, why not redesign a few spaces in a school at a time?  Innovation isn’t a linear process.  Updating our learning spaces doesn’t have to be either.

Regardless of how we get there, it is clear that change must occur.  School culture is more than just the people within.  The school speaks too.  What do we want it to say?

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