If you were designing a new high school today - $75,000,000 and a size of 275,000 square feet for about 1,000 kids, how would you use your thoughts to design the school differently than the one you have today?Bloomfield Hills is hoping to build two new high schools - Andover and Lahser - that would open in 2010 if the voters approve.
Now, I have lots of ideas (big surprise) that I will share with her, but I asked her if I could blog about it so that I could solicit ideas from a few more folks. It would be great if not only students and staff at my high school gave some suggestions in the comments, but also if all you other folks out there who read The Fischbowl (dozens and dozens of you) chimed in as well. And I would boldly suggest that if any of the more prominent edubloggers happen to read this, this might be worthy of a post of your own. Here is a school district that is building the high school of tomorrow (literally) and wants our input. I think we should take advantage of that and offer up our best thinking about what high school should look like in the 21st century (well, at least in the 2010's).
While I'm still thinking about the ideas that I'm going to send to Cindi, I will emphasize - as I'm sure many of you will - that the most important decisions about the schools aren't necessarily related to building design. They would be about curriculum (however you define that), and mission, and goals, and expectations, and mindset, and hiring the right staff, and setting a vision with and for the students. The most important decisions will revolve around students taking charge of their own learning, being passionately involved in their own learning, and making a difference in the lives of those around them - as well as those (physically) far away from them. About being adaptable and flexible and knowing how to learn how to learn (all that "flat world" stuff). It will not be about "education as usual." In my opinion, all those things will far outweigh just about any building design choices. And those will be the hardest choices to make and implement.
Having said that, Cindi indicates those things are all being talked about in her district and she is asking for building design suggestions that will help support that type of education, "a space that can facilitate flexible, independent learning," so I will give some of those as well. You are welcome to submit comments of either type (learning design or building design) and Cindi will be following along. Let's reward her initiative in asking these questions and give her some really good advice.