Education is everything—the foundation and the steps that lead to the attainment of one’s highest potential. The setting of that education should never be an afterthought.
This wall—at a school in Camden, New Jersey—would become very significant in this Spatialosophy™ journey. When I discovered it, nearly three years ago, it set this research project in motion, and articulated what I believe learning spaces everywhere have the potential to be—places that encourage, inspire, and support all young people to become their best selves.
The school’s limited resources were used to create something of great value: hope. That’s what I saw on this wall dedicated to a photo-on-canvas art project featuring students in their future career goals and life aspirations. Despite the climate that existed outside of the school—crime, poverty, etc.—, this art project allowed young people to see themselves as being able to rise above their current situations rather than being confined to them. In creating this wall, the school also created an opportunity for young people to aspire to something better, which felt so powerful.
The visceral reaction I had to this ignited a desire in me to explore the design of other learning spaces: the characteristics and attributes of a positive climate (how it looks and feels); the spatial factors that enhance the quality of experiences had by youth and adults in places where learning occurs; and, the meaningful & measurable outcomes generated in environments like these.
During this journey, I looked at a variety of spaces to see what factors would create the most optimal environments—diverse, inclusive, safe & supportive learning communities where students and educators thrive. Enter: Spatialosophy™.
*From the forthcoming publication Spatial Exploration.
(c) 2017 Devan Blackwell