Friday, January 13, 2012

Architecture and Education Part 1

Last week I was in Boston, MA for the Joint Mathematics Meetings.  I have never been to Boston before, and I was excited about the trip.  After a long travel day and a couple of days of meetings, I needed to get outside, feel the sun, breath fresh air.  I needed to see a bit of Boston before getting back on a plane headed to the west coast.

Before I left for Boston, my wife told me to go and visit the Boston Public Library.  She said it's a special place.  This then leads to the point of this post -- the influence of architecture on education.  I'll do this through photos and captioning.  Part 1 is about a big idea.  Part 2 will be about our little 'ol classrooms and how they can be set up in simple ways to encourage students to interact.

Outside on the steps

A statue gazing at a sphere deep in thought

Inscriptions of the names of the giants, upon whose shoulders we stand 

Entering the building reveals old-world architectural themes.  The patterns above you as you walk in lead your eyes up.

Then as you walk past the entrance, stairs lead you slowly up to a new chamber with art up high, lions honoring the fallen, and arches that again lead the eye upwards.

The stairs for you to walk slowly, and make several 90 degree turns.  These 90 degree turns force you physically to change directions as well as encourage you to prepare the mind for what is to come.

When you reach the top of the stairs, you arrive at a hallway.  The black iron doors on the right side are the entrance to the great hall.  Two more 90 degree turns to go.

Finally one arrives in the great hall.  Arriving in this special place is truly inspiring.  You are encouraged to learn in  a space like this.  Great minds have studied here in the past, are studying here now, and will study here in the future.

Some takeaways (at least for me).  Environment matters.  Indeed, if architecture and decorations didn't matter, we would all live and work in boxes with no paint, no art, no human influence.  But that's not the case.  Building designs affect how we interact with people and how we go about our work.  Living and working in well-designed spaces matters.

See you next time!