Trillions of dollars are spent on school construction each year, in each case, trying to create effective learning environments. But are they solving the right problems? According to the World Economic Forum, the top skills for 2025 include complex problem-solving, working with people, self-management, innovation, originality, and critical analysis. Are we creating spaces to support the skills that will make learners successful?
The answer is often no! Many schools maintain a “cells-and-bells” model of isolated classrooms and rigid corridors that get in the way of effective learning. In other cases, schools incorporate a handful of design ideas that look like they might support creative problem solvers but fail in the details.
Rather than starting from scratch, we invite you to share in an Open-Source Library of Design Patterns for creative learning environments. This web-based application was specifically designed to help school communities create learning environments that are deeply aligned with their mission and vision. Each Design Pattern aims to solve a common problem encountered by schools working to create vision-aligned learning environments. Each pattern includes an annotated sketch, a problem and solution statement, illustrating photographs, and links to go deeper.
The concept of Design Patterns was inspired by Christopher Alexander’s “A Pattern Language,” where he writes:
“The elements of this language are entities called patterns. Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment and then describes the core of the solutions to that problem in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over without ever doing it the same way twice.”
You can find 70+ freely available design patterns at SchoolPatterns.com. School leaders, teachers, students, designers and community partners can use these patterns to identify the core elements to support their vision and goals for learning.
Design Patterns can be assembled to form an integrated ecosystem that includes the school’s vision, educational program, and physical space. Many schools will incorporate 20 or more patterns in their design–together they form a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
The library of design patterns continues to grow, and school design teams are invited to join our journey, contributing their ideas for new patterns to expand our collective knowledge base.
This is the first in a series of weekly Design Patterns blogs published at GettingSmart.com. We welcome your participation!
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