Re: What's new in classroom configurations

From: Lara Beaty (
Date: Mon Feb 28 2005 - 12:03:10 PST

I agree that the "problem" is inherent in the system of school--and
parenthood, work, and politics--as we know it, but I think the
potential of new classroom arrangements to alleviate the problem should
not be underestimated. I don't understand what is meant by the teacher
moving in circles around the students, but setting that aside, I am
intrigued by the idea of more flexibility built into the furnishings of
a classroom, making transitions between different activities not only
easier but more complete. Discussion that is not dominated by the
instructor in a traditional classroom faces numerous material
obstacles. The description does not provide enough information to fully
consider how activities are affected. I would be particularly
interested in the design if it meant facilitating movement for students
as well as teachers and if it distributed power more evenly throughout
the room (rather than in that place the teacher usually stands/sits).
Chairs on wheels might help. I am wary of the design but curious. And
the real question is how the class uses it. Taking "the boards down"
may be significant.

Lara Beaty

On Monday, February 28, 2005, at 10:05 AM, White, Phillip wrote:

> Jay wrote:
> Much of the design "problem" presumably originates in the
> contradictions
> of the activity-complex: control, information delivery, dialogue,
> inquiry
> ... and the surrounding assumptions about teacher-student ratio,
> age-homogeneity of students, isolation of learning environments from
> other
> social settings, curricular authority, student incompetence, etc.
> No amount of good design is going to save a fundamentally dysfunctional
> institution.
> yes, absolutely correct - the design plan reminded
> me
> of the classrooms i worked in through-out the seventies - and as Jay
> points out, the contradictions arise throughout the historical and
> maintained hierarchical powers relations that suffuses the institution
> of education - the institution is not just there for "education" -
> it's also for "disciplining docile bodies" (Foucault).
> phillip

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