The Third Teacher2h>
79 Ways you can use design to transform teaching and learning
A collaborative work book by Bruce Mau Design, VS Furniture and OWP/P Architects
Reviewed by Giselle Carr
Issue 8 Summer 2011
How can design transform teaching and learning so that it becomes more self-actualizing?
The Third Teacher, a collaborative work by Bruce Mau Design, VS Furniture and OWP/P Architects, is an exploration of the link between the school environment and how children learn. Opening with a series of dramatic quotes such as “Whether this year’s kindergarten student will merely survive or positively thrive in the decades to come depends in large measure on the experiences she has in school”, and “The child starting kindergarten this fall will graduate in the third decade of the 21st century”, the project encourages us to consider the impact of our youngest learners – in the future that is already happening.
The basic premise is that educational environment design has not been fully examined or revisited since the 1950’s or so, therefore much of our technological, social and educational advancements have been built on an obsolete foundation. “Learning is far more complicated than once thought but also far simpler than commonly presumed,” writes David Orr. Designing a school that operates as more of an ecosystem of inspiration has transformed “how we think, and how we think about the act of thinking”.
The authors approach the educational environment and the student in a holistic manner, and the book is broken into sections which consider the implications of this environment on children’s basic physiological needs, neurological growth patterns, as well as healthy play and motion. They then elaborate on designing the wider experience of learning, such as community connections to the school, the role of sustainability, nourishment of the senses in activities such as creating school gardens, using appropriate colors for different rooms in the school, creating a more inclusive learning environment, and finally incorporating innovation and technology in rewired learning.
The Third Teacher does not only offer analysis of the surrounding issues of education in which design can play an enabling and empowering role. It reminds us that the answers and case studies showcased are by no means finite, and that the redesign of education – one of the hallmarks of “the good life” – is well underway, and accelerating as we speak.