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If we take seriously the notion that school buildings present students with powerful messages about what society values, then school architecture needs to be radically re-thought. For a century and a half, we have built schools that lack adequate light, good furniture, inviting entryways, and green spaces. This is the time to do it: we are in the midst of a major surge in school construction.
For the next several years, construction will begin on two new schools every day in the United States alone, and that doesn’t even take into account school renovations. But many schools are aesthetically and environment ally deficient, and these schools sap the life right out of students and teachers and everyone else who goes there. Indeed, when adults are invited to think about their lifelong passions, learning that they willingly pursue, most identify something associated with the arts, the body, or the natural world. And yet, very few adults will say that they learned about the thing they love most (cooking, kayaking, playing the guitar, weaving) at school. How is it that our lifelong learning has so little to do with schooling? This book makes the argument that school architecture, even more than curriculum, delineates what students will learn at school.
Dr. Rena Upitis is a former Dean of Education at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, and is currently Professor of Arts Education at Queen’s University. She is also President and CEO of Wintergreen Studios, an education and retreat centre founded in 2007. Her current research passions revolve around the ways in which school architecture both constrains and opens up possibilities for learning. Two of her books, This Too is Music (Heinemann) and Can I Play You My Song? (Heinemann) focus on teaching music in elementary classroom. Another co-authored book, Creative Mathematics (Routledge) explores ways of approaching mathematics through the arts. Rena’s research has been recognized by several awards, including the George C. Metcalf Research Award (2002) and the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies Publication Award (2005).
Praise for Raising a School:
“This book offers many fine insights into the burgeoning field of school architecture. Upitis transitions from John Dewey to David Orr with ease, weaving the work of these and other scholars into the case studies she presents. But beyond the narratives and research presented here, this work offers a real-world guide that readers can use to implement change.”
RANDALL FIELDING, Fielding Nair International, Architects
“Upitis provides a perceptive interrogation of how austere forms of modern schools constrain educational possibilities and she offers ways of raising schools that are both hopeful and compelling. Provocative from the first page, pragmatic to the last, this book is on my must read list for everyone with a serious interest in schools.”
BRENT DAVIS, Distinguished Research Chair in Education, University of Calgary