Inspiring spaces

Last summer, I was called for jury duty at the Federal Courthouse in Cedar Rapids. Everything about the building was awe-inspiring, almost larger than life. It made a duty that many see as an imposition and an inconvenience into a task that, while not enjoyable, is at least understandably important and worthy of one’s attention. Everything about the building from the artwork to the historical displays to the architectural details like the wood paneling and stonework said important things happen in this space. In a similar fashion I spent most of today at an educational technology session held at the administrative offices of the Ames Community School District. It is an impressive building and our session was held in the board room of that building. The room is large and is decked out with cameras, projectors, and large screen displays surrounded by wood-paneled walls. Again, you could tell that important things happen in that space. Then I look at the normal surroundings in virtually any school. We put kids in small cinder-block rooms painted with drab colors. Teachers do what they can to make the spaces inviting but at the end of the day it’s still a small room constructed in the cheapest manner possible. Then we wonder why kids are not inspired to learn. Little about these spaces say that anything of importance has or will ever happen there. That’s just what I see, but of course, I got nuthin.

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