Building Better Schools with a Collective Soul
Traditional schools often serve as havens, with the barest of walls, something to help parents get caught up on their chores and to let students enjoy just going to school.
However, many schools are beginning to look beyond pure bricks and mortar to offer more than classrooms. New schools that reflect the spirit of design, have communities where children become the creators of learning experiences, places where they are not the objects but the primary participants in learning, places that offer relationships that nurture them in ways you can’t find anywhere else, these new schools are more about the learning, giving children time to simply enjoy learning, and where community and environment are integrated into their learning.
Quality Schools Draw the Best Applicants.
Developing a school that educates as much compassion as it does knowledge comes with a higher cost. And to find a facility that can support their mission, schools should carefully examine every possible investment in education to make sure they are investing in the best thing for students to have, to provide learning that is connected to the people who will ultimately get those students to success.
To help in the selection process, families need to begin by questioning their school’s mission statement. Should the school support the student’s needs, intellectual strengths, and social and emotional well-being? And are its curricula aligned with current trends in education? The vision and direction of the school should matter to you, not just its physical presence.
Research Shows Your Kids Benefit from Well-Designed Schools.
Building better schools that value nurturing will lead to better student outcomes. In the 2017 Aspen Commission on Philanthropy, the Aspen Institute partnered with ZERO-G’s The School for Tomorrow, which researches the benefits of design thinking. The findings from this research indicate that design thinking helps students become more creative, resulting in more positive outcomes for the individual students and for the school.
ZERO-G also believes that good design begins with an important focus on child welfare. It found that children are not the objects at an education. They are our greatest assets.
Focus on Child’s Needs
The new school paradigm includes teaching children about their own well-being, building their self-awareness, enhancing their self-confidence, and creating an environment that encourages a positive habit of thinking.
Art teacher Michael Simpson, director of Educause, based in Pittsburg, Maine, sees design as enhancing a child’s educational experience and helps his art students become involved with the visual arts while helping them build the skill set they need to succeed in a global society.
“We try to put a human face on a visual art and lay out our assignments in ways that engage the children in a variety of ways,” he explains.
Other teachers have dedicated their classrooms to fostering better student learning. Conestoga Mills Elementary School Principal Joanna Duck tells us that although the school does not provide art, music, or physical education, instead it makes time for staff development and is committed to teaching students how to learn.
The school has a teddy bear cart where students can take their toys to experience play, as a way to expand their imaginations.
“Our motto is. ‘We give young learners their truths,’” Duck says. “We present our students with novel solutions to familiar problems, and then watch as our youngest learners learn in whole new ways.”
Bring With You a Collective Soul
It all starts with the love of creating, the point of the whole endeavor. So bring in the family and get your kids working on designing the future.
They can even create their own homes. Design your future you can make it a community in which students love learning.
Linda Flanagan has spent 35 years in healthcare, policy, and marketing. She is the owner of On Purpose Marketing in Vienna, VA. She is the senior director of the National Health Education Program, a 501c3 not-for-profit and national student volunteer leader program.