AN INTERDISCIPLINARY OPEN SOURCE LEARNING ACADEMY FOCUSED ON
INTERCOMMUNICATION, SELF-DISCOVERY, AND COLLABORATION
A JOURNEY OF EXPLORATION FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO DEVELOP AND SHARE IDEAS, MOTIVATED BY INSPIRATION, INTEREST, AND THE FREEDOM TO LEARN
PRODUCING UNIQUE STUDENTS AND UNIQUE IDEAS
PROCESS OF LEARNING
WHERE I AM NOW...
Schools are hard. Although I have spent over 10 weeks thinking about education and analyzing various schools and ideologies, I still feel like I’ve only touched upon the surface of what I have discovered to be not only an architectural problem, but also a huge social problem.
I began my journey only having my experiences as a student in an American public school and an international school in Japan. I knew that although there were advantages of each, they were still both outdated systems in the 21st century.
I noticed a few things. Average students in the average high school are unmotivated and uninspired, unwilling to learn. Those that worked hard were motivated by aspirations of colleges, aiming for only a letter grade, somehow valued as the new currency of intelligence. Students were memorizing facts and being lectured at, instead of with, becoming dependent on their ability to listen and be disciplined. Schools were molding the same type of student, producing boring individuals that had no idea what they were interested in because their typical subjects weren’t translatable to the 21st century society. School became a place of oppression and institution.
What happened? Wasn’t school supposed to be a place of learning? A place where people could explore and expand their minds? Wasn’t it supposed to be the one environment in which students had the facilities and support to gain knowledge and become educated? Why weren’t students ready for the “real world?”
It was during these past 10 weeks that I began to instead look at how architecture had the abilities to change the way we can educate our young generation. How could we use the power of design to shape not only students, but also the society to come?
Day one, I thought about education and what I wanted it to be. I knew that within any occupation, there is a strong dependency on social skills and the ability to collaborate. I also knew that students often were confused about how the ordinary subjects of their high school, such as biology, math, or English could be translated into a job. Perhaps the most fascinating thing I noticed was that students were best motivated by curiosity and when one was inspired, their desire to create and learn grew.
To address these issues, I thought of a school in which students were interdependent on one another for learning. I created a schedule and a narrative. The school would be open from 6 am to 6 pm. This was crucial, since students learned best at different times of the day. However, there would be 6 periods. They would begin their day in an indoor/outdoor environment, created for the sole purpose of greeting and being social with one another.
Next, one would enter the living room space, which is the heart of the school. Students’ work is displayed and presented upon the walls and throughout the circulation areas and living rooms, to inspire one another, gain critique, and share ideas.
Students would go to a classroom with a rigid structure and move toward a more flexible form of learning, moving to lab, then studio. A huge issue at the project based learning schools was that students were capable of working in projects, but had difficulty translating this type of learning to the collegiate lecture environment. This system of various types of learning environments would be a solution to this problem. Within these areas, teachers are guides and help students with their ideas, instead of forcing knowledge down their throat. Classrooms have flexible bi-folds between them to create collaborative classrooms. This also provides the opportunity for the four interest areas to intermingle and produce new ideas. Students wouldn’t have to choose a path, instead having the ability to choose a mixture of interests and explore a combination to create the diversity in not only the projects, but also the students.
At the end of the day, students ascend to the think tank area, which is surrounded by studios, holding the facilities and tools to create and make a reality of their ideas that they have within these think tanks. Working in groups, students create and engage their hands. Whether they finish or not, they exhibit their project in one of the living room areas and head home. The next day, the school is different. The school is ever changing and becomes a dynamic environment for learning.
Upon, creating this journey and designing heavily from inside to out, I realize after reviews that my conceptual ideas weren’t quite matching the architecture itself. It wasn’t fun enough. It was conservative and I knew deep down that I was limiting myself. I was trying to design what can be done now, instead of truly going wild.
Looking forward, I know that the next project will be just another iteration, but with help of another mind. My goal is to be much more loose and fun about the school in its form and produce the experiential qualities to match my conceptual ideas. SCHOOL/STUDIO NEEDS FUN.