Letter from the Editor

John Abbott poses a compelling quandary in his essay Occasional Pieces: What Schools for What Future? “The question is apparently simple – what are we educating children for? Put figuratively, is it for a future comparable to battery hens, or is it about free-range chickens? If the former, which might seem to give a high return on input/output calculations, then such over-refined children (sorry, chicken!) can’t even stand on their own feet as they’ve never developed their leg muscles. They can’t fly for similar reasons, so if the wire cages are taken away from them they are perfect morsels for predatory foxes to gobble up. Not so the free-range cockerel who, if threatened, thrusts its beak into your ankle and then, as you scream, he flies up to the safety of the nearest beam and crows at you out of reach of your flaying arms. One is adaptable; the other is trapped within a limited environment.” (See Abbott’s essay at www.21learn.org/archive/articles/OP_what_schools_for_what_future.php).

Have we unknowingly been paralleling the poultry industry, genetically engineering our students to regurgitate information, or is there any real critical thinking happening? Are we empowering or constraining them? Anyone with common sense would tell you that the average classroom today more closely resembles a cage than an innovative, creative, collaborative learning environment. So what’s up with all the cages still being built?

This month, marking the first month of the second decade of the 21st century, DesignShare’s e-newsletter focuses on 21st century learning and what that means for school design. We bring to you once again a set of phenomenal case studies from around the globe that we know will spark brilliant ideas to light up the New Year.

Cheers and Happy 2009!

Clare Vogel, Editor

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
-Albert Einstein

On Tap

Part II: Optimal Learning Environments: Societal expectations, learning goals and the role of school designers, by Bukky Akinsanmi
The word ‘school’, derived from the Greek word ‘schole’, originally meant ‘leisure’ – a meaning devoid of boredom, pressure and anxiety that are now a part of today’s school experience. It later evolved to mean a place of ‘otiose (leisurely) discussion’ and also referred to a group of people holding similar thoughts or opinions about issues. So what happened? Read more...
Online Advanced Certificate Program in Educational Facility Planning
The Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) and San Diego State University (SDSU) are currently accepting applications for the Online Advanced Certificate Program in Educational Facility Planning (Beginning December 1, 2008 through June 1, 2009).
View full press release
View program brochure

Technology: Wii used for fitness in students with autism
Autistic students take to Nintendo sports at one middle and high school. In addition to improving hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, the game has helped create more social opportunities for the children in the program. Read more...
Case Study: School of Environmental Studies, Apple Valley, MN
A public school just outside Minneapolis, MN literally serves as 3-dimensional textbook – the architecture teaches students about sustainability, recycled material, gravity, wind and solar power, and other renewable energy. See how they do it...

Case Study: Falmouth School, Cornwall, UK
From inception through completion of the extension and refurbishment of Falmouth Schools’ existing 1960s design and technology block in Cornwall, England, the project team worked directly for a client group of 11 design & technology pupils aged 13-14 years old. The new block is a landmark for the school and demonstrates best practice for environmental design. Read more...

Future Ways to Learn... Sitting, Standing or Playing
VS furniture company’s line for schools has struck gold. They offer flexible furniture for students, which fits seamlessly into the 21st century school. This furniture achieves primarily one thing: maximum flexibility, which enables the school to demonstrate the versatility that modern forms of teaching call for. This is the furniture for the schools of today. And tomorrow. We highly recommend that you check out VS’s website site.

One Corner of the World

The Cayman Islands are gaining recognition the world over for building world-class learning spaces which reflect both 21st-Century thinking and the islands’ rich and unique culture. In 2005 the Cayman Islands made an unprecedented pledge to bring about much needed transformation of their education system. Driven by a committed government and some of the most brilliant minds on the international scene, the Cayman Islands are not only embracing but increasingly leading cutting edge developments in technology, facilities, human capital development and teaching and learning styles. See more at: Building Cayman’s Future Blog
(George Town Primary School Rendering, by Fielding Nair International)


More Resources for 21ST Century Schools


The Coolest School in America: How Small Learning Communities Are Changing Everything, edited by Walter Enloe, Doug Thomas and Ron Newell
Eleven papers describe the founding of the Minnesota New Country School that has become a national model for project-based learning. They share lessons learned while organizing the EdVisions cooperative system that gives teachers control of the learning program, the hiring of personnel, and most of the budget.

Changes Coming to DesignShare

  • Online Manufacturer’s Directory coming soon
  • Get Out the Vote! New DesignShare Awards Program details announced on the blog

Event Calendar

7th Annual High Performance School Symposium (Tampa)
February 6 - 7, 2009

National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference (Chicago)
February 25 - 27, 2009
The NAIS Annual Conference is the largest gathering of independent school leaders, administrators, and teachers. The conference provides for attendees opportunities for invaluable personal and professional networking, and for the attainment of practical skills and tools. In addition, it strives to be an event that spurs forward-thinking dialogue about the future that faces independent schools.

"The World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development – Moving into the Second Half of the UN Decade" (Germany)
March 31 – April 2, 2009
The conference will review what has been achieved during the first half of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and will look ahead to strategies that further promote awareness and progress in this field. Special emphasis will be placed on enhancing North-South and South-South dialogue and cooperation. The conference is organized by UNESCO and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO.

2009 School Building Expo (Pittsburgh)
June 2 - 4, 2009
If you're planning new schools, designing a new school, or renovating a school... If you're an architect designing schools and colleges, if you're a campus planner, a university architect, or you're an educational facilities planner... If you're building new schools, if you're building a college building, if you're building a university campus... If you're a member of AIA Committee on Architecture for Education, if you're an educational facilities planner or your direct capital projects for a school or college, if you're in school construction orcollege construction... If you're a member of CEFPI and interested in educational facilities planning... If If you want to know more about Green Schools, solar power in schools, or LEED for Schools, then School Building Expo is for you.

September 27 - 29, 2009
6-Degrees of Connection

E-Newsletter Sponsors


Fielding Nair International designs school facilities for today and tomorrow with one primary goal in mind — to improve learning. With consultations in 26 countries on 5 continents, dozens of important publications, and numerous industry awards for excellence, FNI is the global leader for innovative school architecture. Underlying all the architectural design, planning and educational change management work they do is a strong belief in diversity, high performance, technology infusion, global connections and personalization. Web: www.fieldingnair.com

The School Building Expo is the industry event for people responsible for the construction and renovation of K-12 and Higher Education school facilities. Mark your calendars for the School Building Expo, June 2-4, 2009 in Pittsburgh, PA! It is the only event that truly brings together today's evolving Educational Institution marketplace in one place where they can learn about new trends, be inspired by exciting keynotes and discover the latest products and solutions. For more information about participating as a sponsor, speaker, vendor, or participant in 2009, contact Joel Davis.

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