Wow.  I have been trapped, as both a student and teacher, in far too many uncomfortable rooms and this video series, by Prakash Nair, made me reflect on that sad fact.  I find it hard to easily visualize what a school could or should look like because I am so steeped in what they have looked like.  I’m sitting here in my classroom, under the harsh florescent lights, listening to the neighboring teacher through the slim walls, and staring at the uncomfortable plastic desks.  Yuck.

There’s a reason Starbucks is a popular place to meet friends or go to do work: the spaces are cozy, comfortable, and diverse.  The two analogies that struck me from the presentation where when Nair compared the amount of space we give students to that allotted to prisoners (prisoners get more space), and when he compared the quality and comfort of the seats to those of McDonalds (not a place I would want to sit all day).

I am very interested in brain research and what we know about learning.  I have read much about how the physical environment affects the way people feel and how those feelings, in turn, affect our ability to acquire new information.  For example, the brain prefers natural light over florescent, the color red seems to stimulate hunger, and our eyes appreciate different focal lengths.  Here’s an interesting article by Nair’s partner, Fielding: I like that the ideas behind Nair’s facilities support what we know about the human mind as well as address the learning we believe the human mind will need in the future.

My question:  Is there hope of integrating these ideas without remodeling or building a structure?  My school leases a building from the District and I know other charter schools are in similar situations.  What can be done within a traditional box room?