Archives for posts with tag: architecture

I’m currently reading a book about learning nationalism at the El Paso – Juarez Border and I was struck by the holistic approach that the authors Susan J. Rippberger and Kathleen A. Staudt have in describing education on both sides of the US – Mexico Border.

Of particular amusement to me was the stress in part of the book on the differences of personal space in Mexico and in the US and the ways in which this plays out in the physical structure and layout of the classroom.

Upon showing a video recording of a classroom in Juarez (which by its description, seemed very constructivist in its approach) to students in a Graduate Seminar on Education, a student commented on the difference between the Mexican classroom dynamic and the US dynamic by highlighting the similarity between individual desks and cubicles, essentially equating the stress on individual student desks as preparation for a capitalist mindset in which you are just a cog in the machine, a single employee in his cubicle.

I couldn’t help but repeatedly highlight that passage, it struck me as being one of the most hauntingly accurate critiques of American classroom layouts.

At a time when businesses everywhere are realizing the importance of workplace environment and removing cubicles as they attempt to create more collaborative work spaces, I can’t help but wonder how much of this collaboration is permeating to our schools, to our kids.

Any hope at a collaborative structure in the workplace seems like it should start by creating a collaborative work structure in the classroom.

How do we create collaborative work spaces? Is it enough to just have children sitting in small groups? Should we be sharing materials as well? How much of a role does the physical environment play in teaching and developing collaboration and creativity in our classrooms? Especially when those are the skills our businesses are seeking so passionately now.

I just watched a video of Masahiko Yendo, an experimental architect, talking about his work. My first question was “what is experimental architecture, and what good is it if it isn’t real?” He answers that first part pretty early on:

“My take on experimental architecture is non-built, and is the pursuit of trying to figure out or trying to understand the meaning of building, construction, destruction, or assigning function, rather than function itself. As an architect, I try to embrace as many non-architectural issues as possible, because the technological aspects of architecture are very much solvable…. My process is the process of discovery, so experimentation is other than a drive to some sort of conclusion or solution. LINK TO VIDEO

He mentions later about a story of two kids, where one is imprisoned somewhere, but then he counters that “it really just depends which side the lock is on”. Its an interesting thought: Israel is currently building a wall around the Palestinian Territories, but in effect, it is also building a wall around itself, locking itself almost as much as it locks Palestine.

With that in mind, here’s a few questions to think about:  To what degree do fantastic ideas like M.C. Eschers change the way we think about architecture, do Borges’ and Burroughs’ word games change the way we thinking about knowledge and writing? How important is it to have something unreal or fantastic for reality to chase after?

And most of all, the core of problem comes from the idea that all communication is miscommunication. How important is the unattainable ideal, in relationship to the real, and thus how does that failure shape our world?   RK