Interesting article from Ed Week on yet another thing Finland gets right - its school buildings.
School design has become of increasing concern to American and international educators alike, as buildings age and research emerges on the effects of schools’ physical structure on student health, safety, and motivation.
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.
In the current issue of the research journal Children, Youth, and Environments, published in the spring, 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.
The Kirkkojärvi School in Espoo, the second-largest city in Finland, even orients its play yard facing east, so that students with morning recess get more sun exposure and Vitamin D. A 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.
Mr. Bunton agreed that expanding the amount of openness and light in a school can boost student safety and motivation. He noted that one recent new campus, Christopher High School in Gilroy, Calif., south of San Jose, opened in stages over the course of three years; in each year the students moving to the new campus from the old 1920s-era Gilroy High School experienced a 7 percent increase in test scores.
“It’s the same students, same teachers, but a different environment,” he said.
Something to keep in mind for BEX IV.
What's on your mind?