16. A New Space

How the School Space should be designed
One thing we haven’t talked about is how the school space is designed. The way the space is designed can have a huge impact on learning. Here is a quick chapter on a few architecture and design ideas for the new school. With a lot of changes to how education should be done, a re-imagining of what a school space should look like should be included.

Collaborative and Flexible

With less of a focus on traditional classes, we want to open up the space so that it is more collaborative and engaging. This can be done with the removal of generic classrooms and instead, use more open spaces with boxed off areas for meetings and quiet spaces, similar in design to a lot of co-working spaces today. This means a lot more collaborative spaces for project based work.
The open space design will also allow for more flexibility. The idea that the school can be used for more than just education for students, but also a place of gathering, means that the more options for how a space can be used, the more value it has. Flexibility will be key, including certain spaces that have movable tables and chairs.

Activity

One of the inspirations for re-evaluating education was the TED talk on a kindergarten designed by Takaharu Tezuka ([https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5jwEyDaR-0][1]). The school was essentially a two-story donut shaped building where the entire second floor was a track for kids to run around and be kids. A space designed for activity and exploration is important, including areas for climbing and moving. Not only does it help children get a better understanding of their physical body, it allows them to exercise naturally in the name of fun.
The other consideration is the opposite of activity. There should be just as much space designed for inactivity, for example, quiet spaces for independent thinking or meditation. Traditional schools have never given much thought to quiet rooms or the concept of meditation, where we train our self-discipline and focus.

Experiential Spaces

In the third section of the book, we explored some methodologies for curriculum design, focusing on real world learning and experiential learning. The school should include spaces where real trade workshops are established.
For example, workshops or hacker spaces, preferably ones that have a professional who actually operates a business out of the space. Some of these hands on working places might be:
  • shoe makers, tailors, etc.
  • metal workers
  • electronic fixing up labs where we allow people to bring things in to fix
  • hardware store + hardware tools
  • farm
Having these at arms length for the students allows them to learn from actually doing rather than only seeing these in textbooks or videos. The curiosity that it can develop in children becomes a very powerful driver for learning in the future.

Immersive Language Zones

One of the core criteria of the Stanton School Concept is communication, and preferably, the learning of multiple languages. Each school must teach at least two or more languages. But as we all know, languages do not stick unless used often and repetitively. Therefore, we have the Languages Zones, where in a specific language zone, you are only allowed to use that language. All workshops, all projects, and all activity that happens in that language zone will prioritize the using of that language.
For example, if a school had English and Chinese, then the school would be separated into two halves with a thick line separating the two. All the posters, signage, text on the English side will be in English and Chinese on the Chinese side.
The goal is to create a total immersive environment so that once you’re in that space, it’s almost as if you’ve traveled to another country.This kind of immersion will need to be gamified to incentivize students to spend time in both zones, but the immersion should help them learn faster.

A healthy and sustainable space

Lastly, I just want to mention that there needs to be a priority on health and sustainability. For health, a place of learning that includes sunlight, good air, plants, and good food. The space should help students develop concepts around protecting and taking care of their body.
A sustainable space, where there is renewable energy, considerations for how to limit wasted resources, and general consideration for the environment, will help students develop a better understanding of the third connection, Connecting with the Community, Society, and the Environment. Being exposed to sustainability concepts at a young age will make students much stronger advocates and creators of sustainable practices.