Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Designing a brain friendly school

John Medina had this post recently on his blog, Brain Rules. He states the following about our work environment as it relates to our brain:

"The brain appears to have been designed to solve problems related to surviving in an outdoor setting in unstable meteorological conditions. And to do that in near-constant motion. That's what the brain's good at. So if you wanted to design a work environment directly opposed to what the brain was naturally good at doing, you'd design something like an office."

This got me to thinking about school design. How would a school be re-designed considering the factor of movement? How could we get our kids up and moving more often? First thing that comes to mind is breaking the campus apart. When I was getting my BA, the college I attended had classrooms spread over three separate campuses and several off-campus. Each was within walking distance. Add to that a dorm room that was even further away and I ended up walking a lot every day.

What about moving each of the subject areas apart with athletic fields between each building.
  • The main offices, library, lockers and food in the center. The walkways could be covered (perfect place for solar panels). Even enclosed in colder climates.
  • Teacher's offices would be in a building different from where they taught. (We could use the exercise too.)
  • By splitting the buildings up we could also more easily create multi-use plans that involve the community using our library. Our athletic facilities. Our theater and auditorium.

I can hear the complaining now.

When are we going to start building schools based on modern thinking other than some archaic architects list that says how big classrooms should be and the width of the hallways. Both of which are never big enough anyway! If we are going to start building schools for the new century, lets get out of our nineteenth century mind set.

[Image: Flickr: "UNC Campus Map"; Uploaded on February 22, 2009 by Velnich: (CC: Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic) ]

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