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Leadership and Activism

Another Challenge to ACT

Got up this morning to see a Twitter conversation between my Superintendent, Pam Moran, and a friend, Ann Leaness about setting up a flickr account to show pictures of everyone’s schools.  The idea was to  be able to look at the diversity of buildings around the world, gathered in one Flickr account. Cool idea, cool connecting, and a great place to take kids to have conversations about what they currently look like and what they should look like.

Last week Pam sent me this link, New Line Learning Plaza, from her Scotland buddies.  I have some of these employees as parents in my school, so we are sharing links about learning spaces. (About 20 years ago, they designed the school in which I currently teach.) My principal is meeting with them soon to see what we can do to bring our building, our learning spaces, our grounds into the world in which we live, setting up spaces that help change how students and teachers interact.

Today is a day that educators and people who care about education are being asked to blog for real Education reform and post the links to their blogs here. Jason posted his recent blog post and I posted a past post called A Challenge to ACT. I challenge each Catalyst to add a link to one of their posts as well.

But really,  my challenge today is to take those picture of schools that Pam and Ann are collecting and have your students dream.  Then share what they tell you.  Show them the you tube video above and the videos on the VMDO Architects site and heave them dream about what school building SHOULD be like–what kinds of learning spaces do we need? Pam blogs here about getting rid of our factory schools and say “our only charter should be radical invention.”  So, let’s ask our students to dream and share.

I challenge you to act–to share some forward thinking spaces with them and then to get their ideas–and share them with all of us so we can have plenty of ideas to share with our decision makers!  Perhaps we’ll be able to build some incredible spaces!

About Paula White

grandma, teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), DEN STAR, Google Certified Teacher, camper, Gifted Resource Tchr, NETS*T certified, lover of learning


2 thoughts on “Another Challenge to ACT

  1. Paula, I got so excited about New Line Learning Plaza that I had to tweet about it, then send a gillion emails around to everyone to take a look, and now I’m going over to the wall. What a woman you are.

    And so before I go, here is a question I pose to you, with love and enthusiasm. Does creation of exciting new learning spaces automatically change the old-school patterns of authority deeply set in the conventional DNA of schooling? (That adults are mostly in charge, and that children are there to learn in ways that adults authorize.) I know this is a complex question, and I’m not trying to oversimplify, and I also know that the teachers at Plaza and thousands of other incredible schools like it live in direct challenge to this old disabling paradigm. But I can also imagine a set of teachers–maybe you can to0–if put into a space like this, who could very rapidly turn it into a place of worksheets and frontal, monolithic teaching, with “rigor” and attainment defined in old school ways. In my neighborhood there is a school building from the 1970s that was constructed in the open classroom model, very cool and groovy back in the day. And gradually, over the years, teachers put up bookcases between spaces because “kids couldn’t hear them talk,” and cardboard on top of the bookcases to make the spaces even more like classrooms. And then they started putting in doors…Well, you get the idea.

    So what, in your view, dear Paula, is the relationship between space, environment and patterns of authority and control in teaching and learning? What comes before the other? What challenges what? What is the developmental model that underlies the undoing of the factory model and the egg crate classroom and the teacher as the source of knowledge and control?

    Posted by Kirsten | October 18, 2010, 6:47 pm
  2. We’ll get on that right after this.


    Posted by Chad Sansing | October 18, 2010, 10:01 pm

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