Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Finland leads way in Education, and now School Building Design to aid Student achievement.

One of the keys to learning is light, natural light. I felt this way about light since the 1960's, but no one would listen to a 13 year old Milwaukeean. Here's what's next, and what Republicans will distract us from, while they push privatization and no accountability.  
Edweek: Education watchers have dissected Finland’s educational leadership on international tests from practically every angle, but a new traveling exhibit at that nation’s embassy here suggests one more: that the buildings themselves support student achievement. Pasi Sahlberg, the director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation at Finland’s education ministry, attributes the nation’s academic achievement to a three-fold approach: quality of the academic curriculum, equity in educational access, “and the third one is the environment. How the environment and design of the school is supporting students’ learning. 

They exemplify the country’s move from factory-style schools, with all classrooms and desks in rows, to contemporary campuses built to meet the pedagogical and social needs of their students and teachers. “Every single detail has a meaning, has a purpose,” Mr. Sahlberg said, “because all of these designs have been done in collaboration with the teachers, the principal and the architects.”

The buildings are laid out in clusters, with multiple gathering places inside and out. In part, this is necessity: While American schools are cutting recess, Finish schools set aside a 15-minute break after every 45-minute lesson, coupled with a half-hour lunch break, even though they traditionally have shorter school days overall than those in the United States.

Ellyn M. Dickmann, associate dean of education and professional studies at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, found building design could exacerbate bullying problems. Schools that included few windows, isolated classrooms, and little public-gathering space were harder for adults to supervise, leading to more bullying. Several of the Finnish schools include indoor atriums overlooked by upper-story classes as well as outdoor courtyards sheltered to the wind but with easy sight lines for adults supervising students.

And most of the schools include floor-to-ceiling windows intended to fill classrooms with natural light; Strömberg School, for example, uses skylights and large windows in the walls between classrooms, to allow more light to reach interior spaces. The study found in an analysis of 71 schools that students exposed to more natural light had higher vocabulary and science scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and students in classrooms with views of the outdoors had higher mathematics, vocabulary, and language arts scores on the same test. 

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