Some of you may have run across details about the recent opening of a new NYC Apple store. Obviously a great assignment if you are the architectural team or just have a fetish for forward-thinking design having a real impact on retail sales/square foot ratios.
Me, what strikes me as pretty wonderful (and ultimately simple) is the investment Apple made in kid-centric (and child-ergonomic) design in such a expensive retail space. Funny. If there is even the slightest chance that a kid might become a lifelong customer, a for-profit org like Apple will invest in making the experience more robust for our youngest participants. Sure, it is just a 'ball' for a seat, but it changes the game 'just enough'.
Schools, on the other hand, have never really had to wrestle with what it means to see their students as lifelong customers who have choices (yet), and thus selecting chairs/desks (and most of the 'school icons' we are so familiar with) remains a matter of efficiency rather than engagement, cost-savings rather than an investment, tradition rather than innovation.
Or perhaps that's only when we approach education in a traditional mindset where it's vital that our learners remain 'still' in efficient rows while learning happens 'to' them rather than something discovered and constructed 'by' them. Just a thought.
A tangent or directly connected? I'll let you decide.
But you might wonder what questions and learning principles were in play with the educators and designers that sparked this innovative award-winning Japanese school evironment in advance of putting this little gem together.
And you might want to wonder what it means when we imagine the impact on our students' most nimble, agile, creative potentials as we look forward to a world that will demand that our graduates are 'response-able' in ways we can only hint at in the present tense.
Imagine a 2-story play net placed in the center of your school. What message does that send? How is creativity and wonder fueled? Certainly this can't have a real value? Literally or metaphorically?
And what about a classroom that would be the envy of most homeowners? Again, value-less, right?
Perhaps such images (and the underlying questions that led to their creation) may lead our proverbial thought-horses to new waters in terms of wondering what the learning experience must be for students and educators in such spaces. Oh, and the definitions of what it means to teach and to learn as we all gaze forward and try to grasp what it really means to be 'learning' centric in whatever future you can imagine.
Again, just a thought. Probably a tangent. One worth ignoring if I were you. (He smiles)