starting from scratch

Today’s Afternoon Pages ask us to think about starting a school from scratch.

In my mind’s eye, there would be beauty, actual aesthetic beauty, in the place. It would not look like a prison; it would not look like a big box store with walls. There would be LIGHT, lots of light because if plants need it to grow, probably it’s good for people, too. (Students and teachers are people, by the way, with faces and bodies who need to see the sun.) There would be other living things: plants, therapy dogs, a garden. There would be high ceilings in common spaces and low ceilings in cozy ones. There would be movable seating on wood floors and color on the walls, which would be filled with a rotating array of student art and writing. There would be floor-to-ceiling windows on some walls that open to the outside when possible. There would be music and zero bells. Also, probably ice cream.

As I visualize the physical space, I realize that spaces implicitly reflect our beliefs about the purposes of school. If you allow that schools have identities, then the spaces also convey and reflect values. They silently communicate who gets to be a learner, whose voices matter. Voice enables the enactment of identity.

Do you visualize yourself as a dynamic learner? Then you need a dynamic space in which to learn that reflects who you are and might become.

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