In its broadest sense, this research investigates how one should design the physical environment for the contemporary subject of the Digital Era. The ease and immediacy with which one can access the preponderance of information available through digital and electronic media has complicated the development and understanding of self-identity in popular culture, and by correlation how one engages with society. The significance of the public institution as a center for information exchange and civic engagement has diminished in favor of new media , which has become a staple at home and is trending increasingly mobile.

While architectural investigations of the past two decades contemplate the formal possibilities of digital technology and the affects of new media on physical objects, few architectural proposals consider how the proliferation of these media and technologies directly affect the subject in society. This project rethinks the design of the contemporary upper school as a model for considering the affects of new media on individual and community interaction, the dissemination of information and the evolution (dissolution?) of public institutions.

This thesis challenges contemporary formulations of identity and societal engagement in an age increasingly dominated by the proliferation of digital and electronic information and interaction through the proposition of an architecture which fosters critical awareness of the (re)presentations of actuality in new media and directs critical engagement between the new subject of the digital era and the public sphere.

My complete thesis preparation document can be viewed here: Rethinking the Contemporary School

Friday, December 26, 2008

Education reform revisited?

I keep thinking of Marika's thesis in looking at the evolution of pedagogy and social structures... Educational theory and facility design of the 1960's and 70's faced many of the same questions which we are facing today. Emphasis was placed on the importance of discovery and exploration in the learning process and communication with other children and adults was regarded as invaluable. The participatory theory of education “sees learning as a mosaic pattern made up of fragments of information from numberless sources, rather than as an unbroken linear development.” This suggests new considerations of how we organize schools – eliminating grades and mixing children, allowing for various sized group learning activities, access to a great range of media, materials, and equipment for self-instruction. This requires a high degree of movement, interaction, and communication. Classrooms were never designed for this; they were designed for uniformity, not diversity. The ‘open plan school’ emerged in the 60's and 70's in response to these alternative theories of education, but as we have seen, its impact did not last. The authoritarian nature of schools has prevailed - standardized tests dominate teaching methods. But now, as advances in technology continue in break neck speed and the learning environment continues to expand, we are facing many of the same, unresolved questions from the 60's and 70's.

1 comment:

Dk said...

you should read Bill Ayers blog post on education in an Obama administration: