Tag Archives: Wonder by Design

To reimagine learning, we must reimagine the physical space of “school” — but how?

For more than a century, the physical layout of American schools has been as consistent as any feature in American public life. Although the world around us has been in a constant state of flux, we have always been able to depend on a familiar set of symbols in our schools: neat, orderly rows of student desks; teachers delivering lessons to an entire group of children; lockers in the hallways; bell schedules — the list could go on.

But what if those timeworn structures of schooling are actually preventing us from reimagining education for a changing world? What if, in fact, the physical environment is — after parents and peers — the “third teacher” of our sons and daughters?

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Categories: Design & Space, Learning, Organizational Change, Voice

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A Year of Wonder

I admit: I’m the type of person who sees every New Year as a chance to reboot, revisit and refresh.

And this year, 2016, I want to try and sustain a yearlong exploration of wonder.

Part of the reason for that is pretty straightforward: on January 1, I officially became a partner in a global design studio that helps communities reimagine learning at the intersection of space, culture and story.

Our name? WONDER, By Design.

But part of it is also a desire to wrestle with some questions my colleagues and I want to understand more deeply:

If wonder is to learning as carbon is to life, then what are the neurochemical underpinnings of wonder itself?
In what ways does our capacity for wonder help explain what is most essential to what shapes and drives us as human beings?
What blocks our ability to wonder widely about the world? What gets us unblocked?
You can imagine my excitement, then, when I saw that the Renwick Gallery, a century-old museum in Washington, D.C. once described as the “American Louvre,” had recently undergone its own reboot – a literal, massive, two-year renovation – and was reintroducing itself to the public by having its first new exhibit transform the entire building into an immersive, multisensory work of art.

The inaugural exhibit’s name? WONDER.

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Categories: Learning, Voice

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What does it mean to be prepared?

I just spent three days at a wonderful independent school in Columbia, South Carolina. The students there are the types of young people you want to meet and hand over the keys of the world to — smart, thoughtful, and generous of spirit. They’re also the kind of community that is asking all the right questions.

I was most struck by a billboard they commissioned, shortly after their most recent graduation, in which the class of 2014 throws their mortarboards into the air, and the image is accompanied by a single word: PREPARED.

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Categories: Learning

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