Oculus - Fall 2012 - (Page 11)
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Of Ladybugs and Learning
ith the Center for Architecture exhibition “The Edgeless School” currently on view, it seemed timely to focus this issue of Oculus on education, both in design and pedagogy, and how each affects the other. Numerous studies show that learning environments have an impact on performance and morale of students and teachers alike. My first experience with “organized” education was a so-called “kiddies’ school” I was enrolled in when we moved from New York to Florida. I was five, and I was miserable. Never mind the dusty (or muddy) play yard, rusting jungle gym, buggy bathroom, and peeling pea-green paint in the hallways. I was a “Yankee” – and five-year-olds can be cruel. I pushed back once, and found myself sitting in the corner facing a white picket fence under a huge banyan tree. But instead of being humiliated, I was mesmerized. The fence was covered with hundreds of ladybugs! Watching them scurrying around, busily doing whatever ladybugs do, was much more fun than being bullied, and I ended up spending a lot of time in that corner. When we moved back to Yankee-land in time to start first grade, the teacher asked me to tell the class about life in Florida. I told them all about the ladybugs. This led to the class’s first science lesson (did you know ladybugs can live up to three years?) and made me fall in love with school. But that was then – this is now. Anyone who cares about education in America couldn’t have been cheered by several reports published earlier this year. The “U.S. Education Reform and National Security” report by the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force (co-chaired by Joel I. Klein, former chancellor of the NYC Department of Education) comes to some disheartening conclusions, including: “Too many young people are not employable in an increasingly high-skilled and global economy.”
©K&G Panic Graphics
Editor's learning environment.
The Global Competitiveness Report 2011–2012, issued by the World Economic Forum, surveyed 142 countries in a great number of categories. In higher education and training, the U.S. ranks 13th overall, and 26th in “the quality of the education system.” Sadder still, we are 37th in “the quality of primary education.” On a slightly brighter note, we rank 7th in “capacity for innovation,” and 3rd in “university-industry collaboration in R&D.” The Global Innovation Index 2012, published by the international business school INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, ranked 141 countries/economies in areas such as institutional frameworks that attract business and foster growth, level and standard of education and research, and infrastructure. The U.S. is only 10th in all categories, and 31st in K–12 education, “owing to low rankings in education expenditures.” But all is not doom and gloom. The Obama Administration launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) literacy in public education. The arts have been added to the mix, resulting in STEAM programs in elementary and high schools. The Association of Architecture Organizations and the Architecture + Design Education Network are among its strongest proponents, as are the ACE Mentor Program and Publicolor. Closer to home, last year the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Learning by Design:NY K–12 program was a U.S. nominee in the first International Union of Architects/UIA Architecture & Children Golden Cubes Awards. Do architecture and architects have a role in improving our education system? Indeed they do – well beyond pea-green walls.
Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA Kristen@ArchNewsNow.com
Fall 2012 Oculus
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2012
Letter from the President: The Future: Here and Now
Of Ladybugs and Learning
Manhattanville Shuffl e: A no-real-community-here might just become one
Opener: The New Learning Landscape
Oh, the Places We’ll Go!
One Firm, Two Schools of Thought
Schools Made to Order
Expanding Architecture Beyond Form and Function
New Kids on the Boards
Real Solutions at Harlem’s Edge
The Future of Architecture Since 1889
Aalto and America
The Mythic Modern: Architectural Expeditions into the Spirit of Place
Schlepping Through Ambivalence: Essays on an American Architectural Condition
The Harlem Edge | Cultivating Connections 2012 Biennial Ideas Competition
A pioneering example of Modernism in New York is the 1931 New School for Social Research building by Joseph Urban
The Young and the Edgeless
Alphabetical and Categorical Index
Oculus - Fall 2012
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