Education around the Globe
Evolution within the world of education is being felt across the country and around the globe. Many of the challenges we are facing with our individual clients are similar to what is happening in most school districts both here in the United States and in other parts of the world. I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) Conference in Barcelona, Spain in May. Throughout the week in Spain, I was able to fully experience the gamut of educational facilities ranging from small pre-kindergarten facilities to larger high schools.
I noticed there are some rather progressive practices within the world of education in Barcelona and some that are significantly less progressive. On the more traditional side, most students spend most of their day in one classroom studying a very traditional curriculum. Furniture and equipment is fairly dated especially in the area of science laboratories and physical education. Many schools are designed around double loaded corridors and examples of flexible spaces and technology integration are few and far between.
On the progressive side, teachers, not students, are continually moving and sharing spaces, outdoor learning spaces are abundant and natural daylight is commonplace. Additionally, most students in Europe are required to take English starting in third grade and have the opportunity to take a second foreign language starting in 8th grade…therefore graduating from high school tri-lingual.
Although there are a great number of differences within educational systems throughout the world and the work we do, there is at least one level of consistency: pride. To witness a group of students, staff and administrators showing off their school with an enormous sense of pride is a wonderful delight to design professionals. The environments we create as planners, architects, engineers and designers, whether it is in our own backyard, across the country or on the other side of the world, matters to the end users.