I had the chance last week to visit the Stanford School of Design. It is an institution that is much about innovative spaces, and it was fun to walk through them. I loved the modularity of everything, the odd shapes hanging from the ceiling, and the fact that all the furniture was on wheels.
I wasn’t so crazy about the high ceilings and huge, warehouse-like spaces: my favorite teaching spaces have always been small, intimate ones that become hideaways within a larger institution. That’s okay, I think–there is no more one best classroom than there is one best teacher.
What I really came away with, though, was a new idea about what spaces can do. I have thought before about how spaces shape groupings and encourage engagement or retreat, hierarchy or equality. The thing I realized at Stanford was the role a space, and its decoration, can play in generating excitement and setting the tone for exploration even before the conversations begin. Next year, I want to bring a little of that flair home, making my room bolder, quirkier and more colorful, and, I hope, tacitly encouraging my students to be the same. I’ll let you know how it goes!