VISITING A 21 ST CENTURY SCHOOL part 1
Last week I had the pleasure to visit Hellerup Skole, a state school set on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark. What makes this school so special has to do basically with three elements: architectonic structure, innovative teaching methods and staff.
The building itself is just amazing not only from the inside but also from the outside. It did not give me the impression that it was a school when I walking along the adjacent street towards it. It was just like any other block of apartments or offices in the area. Once I stepped inside it was amazing to look around in this huge open plan school. It was so bright even early in the morning. After recovering from my first shock, I could not believe that parents were inside sitting on a couch with their kids and drinking a cup of tea before dashing off to work. It was just like a home extension for both.
After rubbing my eyes, I was ready again for more action. Another thing that really shocked me was the lack of architectonic barriers not only outside but also inside. All the floors had the same structure: A big open space with different pieces of furniture that 3 or 4 classes shared together in incredible harmony. Both children and teachers were wandering around sharing the same space, even the kitchen.
At playtime, I just stepped outside to see the playground. Again it did not look like an ordinary playground, basically because there was no fence. One might think children were not safe enough to play and have fun but actually it was astonishing to see how happy, free and responsible they were. Everybody seemed to have understood the limits of enjoying such freedom.
Back inside, I took a little tour. To my surprise I could not find any doors or classrooms in the building apart from the Kulturium ( a huge art & design studio ), the gym, the whale ( a school cinema ), the woodworking room and the music room.
So, do we really need classrooms in our schools? Do children really feel happier and safer in traditional classrooms? Do our schools look nice and appealing not only to our children but also to teachers and parents? The answer is quite obvious.
TO BE CONTINUED …