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Public School Facilities and Teaching

A Beautiful School Is a Caring School


Schneider, Mark, BEST Initiative


As part of the BEST initiative, the 21st Century School Fund commissioned a survey of 1950 public school teachers in Chicago and Washington, D.C., to assess the effect of school facilities on teaching. This survey was used to identify what factors teachers believe are important to their ability to teach, assess the adequacy of school conditions and school design as experienced by teachers, examine the distribution of quality school facilities, and analyze the impact of facilities on learning outcomes.

Jarman, Delbert; Webb, Linda; and Chan, T.C., School Business Affairs, June 2004 This article reviews several studies on school building aesthetics and concludes that, in addition to promoting student achievement, a beautiful school building sends the message to parents and community leaders that the school district cares about the education of the children by creating an attractive environment to support student learning. The community’s appreciation may lead to constructive support of the school and its educational process.

(Re)Designing Learning Environments

A Well Designed School Environment Facilitates Brain Learning Chan, Tak Cheung; Petrie, Garth, Educational Facility Planner, v. 35, n. 3, p. 12-15, 2000 Examines how school design facilitates learning by complementing how the brain learns. How an artistic environment, spaciousness in the learning areas, color and lighting, and optimal thermal and acoustical environments aid student learning is discussed.

Building Schools for the Future National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities This website provides citations and links about the planning and design of 21st century schools.

The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools Nair, Prakash; Fielding, Randall, DesignShare, 2005 Presents 25 design patterns, along with plans, sectional views, and photographs that illustrate existing innovative learning environments from around the world. Specific designs are offered for classrooms, common areas, storage, laboratories, the arts, physical fitness, outdoor spaces, dining areas, furnishings, and flexible spaces, with additional recommendations on lighting and ventilation. The impact of the designs on learning, socialization, and health is discussed in each section.

This website, created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, provides case studies and other resources about school design and community engagement.

Thinking Outside the Box: Reinventing the Traditional Classroom Nigaglioni, Irene, AIA, REFP, Educational Facility Planner, Volume 40, Issue 3 & 4, 2005 Discusses shortcomings of traditional learning environments and provides examples of classroom designs appropriate for contemporary educational delivery. These designs accommodate flexibility, variability, extended learning areas, interdisciplinary teaching, and technology integration.

“I spent a lot of time looking at other schools, and one of the things I discovered was that at the schools I thought were really exemplary, the kids took care of the building. And given that they took care of the building, I didn’t think we needed to have prison-quality materials inside the building. That gave us a lot more freedom in terms of what we could do.” DAVID GREENBERG, FOUNDER, DENVER SCHOOL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leading the Transition from Classrooms to Learning Spaces Oblinger, Diana, Educause, November, 2005. Presents considerations for learning space design, emphasizing the migration away from the traditional classroom as the sole venue for instruction. Incorporation of virtual learning and an improved understanding of human cognition inform this discussion of learner- and discipline-centered space design.

schools designed for learning


Schools Designed for Learning: Denver School of Science and Technology  

AAF produced this resource guide to accompany its 2009 documentary on the Denver School of Science and Technology, which is available for vi...