Big Surprise: Finland’s Way Ahead of Us On School Design, Too


A couple of weeks ago, I focused on some research that demonstrated a relationship between school infrastructure and student achievement, well-being, and teacher retention. Meanwhile, Finland (of course), has already designed student and teacher centered schools and is showing them off at their embassy here in the US, as Sarah Sparks reports today on Education Week.

Sparks points to some additional research on the importance of school infrastructure in her article, such as that poorly designed spaces can increase the incidences of bullying due to difficulty of supervision and visibility. Unsurprisingly (at least to Will and I, since we’ve been suggesting this all along), an abundance of natural light has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on student achievement, such as that “students exposed to more natural light had higher vocabulary and science scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and students in classrooms with views of the outdoors had higher mathematics, vocabulary, and language arts scores on the same test.”

Why does the United States have to keep getting shown up by other nations on items that really should be plain common sense (at least would be if we considered our student and teacher well-being as the grounding of our policies and reform efforts, as opposed to as an afterthought)? The US has at times in the past been a center of creativity, innovation, and disruption of established norms. Let’s stop dwelling on the fixed mindset of tests, tests, and more tests, and sharpen our focus to the inspiring vision, intent, and goals we truly want to achieve: leadership and growth in civic engagement, the arts, literature, technology, and science. Right?

And while we’re on the topic, let’s get FAST kickstarted back to life again and given the attention it deserves.

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