We've been thinking about architecture, and how it affects learning, for quite some time. Can architecture play a role in learning? What 'affects' can the building have on the ways in which we engage the world? These are tough questions, questions beyond the scope of this blog post, but we thought we would take a few minutes to articulate a few key points.
One of the fundamental tenets of the Montessori approach to education is aesthetic in nature. You'll notice that in Montessori schools, all of the materials are displayed, in an orderly and beautiful manner. They serve to seduce the children, prompting their curiosity and wonder. The materials are carefully positioned, so as not to dictate education, but to help support and foster a love of learning by enticing the student to discover them.
The Montessori classroom, otherwise known as the prepared environment, is always neat and well presented, conditioned on a principle of an architecture of learning. There's a simple reason for this: In Montessori, the aesthetics compliments and supports the pedagogy. One doesn't happen successfully without the other. But, what about architecture, as it applies to the building? What did Montessori think about architecture?
While not every school has the opportunity to implement a child-friendly architecture, we feel very fortunate to be able to put these ideas into practice. We consider ourselves very lucky, and we're looking to make the most of it. With our new building, we tried to always keep the perspective of the child in mind. One example, and we'll offer more in time, is that we created windows, just for children. You'll notice from the photo above that we've incorporated them at varying heights, allowing different amounts of light into the classroom.
Here, at Baan Dek, we want children to gaze upon the building. We want children to encounter architecture, to inquire as to why the windows are positioned at different heights, and why the light emanantes in the afternoon, as opposed to the morning. Architecture matters. Architecture can help children learn.