Pillars of Practice: Bridging Pedagogy and School Design
DLR Group partnered with the National School Board Association (NSBA) to unveil our student Innovation Challenge at the 2015 Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn. Featured as a learning exhibition at NSBA, we gathered three high school student teams from around the country and gave them broad problem statements to solve collaboratively using physical, technological and human resources. The problem statements involved the keys to our existence and ability to thrive: food resources, water resources and shelter, with local and global context considered for each.
The three student teams were nestled into a main conference thoroughfare. This served as a visible example of both project-based and inquiry-based learning and allowed NSBA attendees a glimpse into modern pedagogy. The synergy developed was palpable; each of the student teams engaged conference attendees and exhibitors alike. Because of the diverse attendees on hand, we had expertise from all corners of the country; public, private and academic.
The outcomes were not predicated on being “right” or “wrong.” The goal was simply to work together to get further than anyone of them could have gotten alone. On the final day of NSBA, the teams presented their solutions to more than 60 attendees in a conference workshop session.
- Dickinson (N.D.) High School students theorized that fresh water source contamination due to stagnant water was an opportunity to readily increase available potable water. They suggested that by introducing an agitator and solar powered filtration, bacteria could be eliminated and make regional resources ready for consumption.
- Champaign (Ill.) students asserted that vertical farming could yield up to 140x the amount of crops and be done year round on ¼ of the land required in traditional farming.
- Students from East Baton Rouge (La.) addressed shelter with a modular, self-sustaining and stacking system of units designed from light weight, high strength materials able to be shipped world-wide for construction.
Each team showed composure, and dare I say, some even showed stage presence during their time in the spotlight. Audience questions during their presentation centered mostly on the process and the approach to learning about their problem statement, processing information they found and whether or not students would prefer this type of learning in their home school. Some folks even questioned their preconceived notions about “what” an architecture firm’s role is the ability of the designer to deliver improved outcomes.
One on the many benefits DLR Group provides school districts is to act as a bridge between pedagogy and designed facility response. Every project, be it a new school design or renovation, is guided by DLR Group’s K-12 Pillars of Practice. These pillars inform every process, design outcome and project we touch.
Pillar One: Design.
Our innovative design solutions will be a tactile manifestation of pedagogy; its essential function, identity and culture.
During the final presentations by each student team, and from questions posed to them, you could literally see and feel the light go on as Board members and Administrators began to see the connection between space and learning. Many attendees also began to question their own facilities’ role in learning.
Pillar Two: Focus on the Learner.
In consideration of student and teacher needs, we will foster learning via responsive solutions to proactively promote positive outcomes.
Without the proper space, environmental attributes, its organization and furnishings, education is taking a back seat in a school facility. For our Innovation Challenge, V/S America provided academically tailored furnishings that allowed students to group and regroup as needed to for the task.