Letter from the Editor

Dear DesignShare Readers,

A mother of a boy with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder wrote to DesignShare recently, inquiring about standing desks and chairs. Her child’s school was considering such furnishings to facilitate different styles of learning. The idea of standing up to learn is neither radical nor innovative. Lecterns can be traced back hundreds of years in academic settings around the world, and are generally used to facilitate eye contact and improve posture when facing an audience. Shtenders, which have stood in Jewish schools and synagogues for decades, are used to hold a siddur or text while studying. William Shakespeare and Ernest Hemmingway stood up at tall wooden desks throughout their schooling. So while the furniture isn’t that innovative, what is pretty radical is that schools, thought to be by many the least progressively designed institutions out there (seeing as though they have not changed in over a century), are actually catching on to the idea of “standing up to learn” and encouraging younger students to try them on for fit.

Just days after receiving this mother’s email, there was an article in the New York Times (which you can read in this issue) about this very topic. Not only are these standing desks great for energetic kids, they can have incredible effects for kinesthetic learners and can potentially decrease child obesity. As with all trends, there are valid critiques of standing up for extended periods of time. Students with arthritis and other bone and joint-related health issues have great difficulty maintaining a standing posture all day. The idea of choice is certainly an appealing option in schools, though. Keep reading for more ideas in innovative school design and educational practices.


Clare Vogel, Editor

On Tap

Students Stand When Called Upon, and When Not
by Susan Saulny, New York Times, February 25, 2009
Classrooms in Minnesota have become test labs for a new kind of desk that allows students to stand or sit. Read more...
Check out this clip to see the furniture in action!

Tinkering School
At a recent TED conference, Gever Tulley gave a three-minute talk about his Tinkering School, a summer program that he's created for kids. He's created a comic-book version of his talk here.

One Corner of the World

Case Study: The Druk White Lotus School, Shey, India
Read about this amazing, environmentally conscious school here.


Can Technology Plug the Educational Divide?
Skype might allow top teachers to reach students in impoverished or rural areas, which could help close achievement gaps, says British education-technology professor Sugata Mitra, whose earlier work inspired the Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire". Read more...

KnowledgeWorks to give $10M to New Tech program
New Technology Foundation, which is working to promote technology-based learning in the country's high schools, has received $10 million from KnowledgeWorks Foundation. Read more...

DesignShare’s Bookshelf

The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design
by Galen Cranz
In recent history, an increasing focus has been made on the way chairs affect our use. For anyone interested in the way we use ourselves, the portion of the book that examines the ergonomic attempts to create a more body-friendly chair reads like a dark comedy, as various attempts are made to address one part of the body, without adequately considering another part. Cranz takes us through this process and helps us see the misconceptions that many designers have built into their chairs.

Event Calendar

"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 or college construction... If you're a member of CEFPI and interested in educational facilities planning... 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

International Conference on Sustainable School Buildings (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
October 1-2, 2009
Contact: alastair.blyth@oecd.org

VIII International Congress on the Development of Educational Spaces (Mexico)
November 2009
Contact: Carlos Bocanegra: congreso@capfce.gob.mx

Safer Schools, Safer Communities: Ensuring Safe and Secure Learning Environments for Children and Young People (UK)
January 18-19, 2010
Contact: hannah.vonahlefeld@oecd.org

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