Hartland - Concentration broken only by the soft whispers of student questions, the fifth-graders in Hartland South Elementary School teacher Holly Albrecht's class lounge on bean bags, perch on fabric cubes or lightly bounce on stability balls.
"The idea has really been catching on to create these more flexible spaces, more comfortable spaces," said Jennifer Lamar, senior interior designer at Fielding Nair International, a school architecture firm that remodeled Yeshiva Elementary School in Milwaukee. "People are realizing sitting at a hard chair, at a hard desk all day long is not very conducive to learning."
In their place are leather couches and recliners, bar-height tables and chairs, giant bean bags, cubby-type office spaces and even a loft area for reading. Next to the couch is clustered a group of desks, where students sit on stability balls and tap on MacBooks.
Fifth-grader Mackenzie O'Connor thrives in this environment. In a traditional classroom, she said, she couldn't sit and listen and would squirm in her chair and talk to her friends.
I received this commentary from friend, Roger Bardoel. I concur.
"As a nation we have a short collective memory. Too many educators don't realize these "reforms" already have a history of failure. Our schools don't need student led classes where the students decide what's best for them. They don't need what used to be called "open classrooms." They certainly don't need more so-called group learning (referred to as "collaboration" in this article) where one student does most of the work while the rest socialize and goof off. Instead, our schools need dedicated teachers who are not afraid to teach hard core subjects while demanding discipline and hard work from their students. Learning is mostly hard work, not leisure lounge time and fun.
Other countries realize this, which is why the U.S. is lagging behind most industrialized and many developing countries, not least of which is China."