Re-Generating an Education of Resilience
Thursday, September 17, 2020 | 12:00 PM CST
Dina Sorensen, Assoc. AIA
d.studio, founder + design director
co-chair, American Institute of Architects – Committee on Architecture for Education, Research Subcommittee
The word school derives from Greek σχολή (scholē), originally meaning "leisure" and also "that in which leisure is employed", and later "a group to whom lectures were given, school". The Japanese word for school, gakuen, means "learning garden" or "garden of learning". Kindergarten is a German word whose literal meaning is "garden for the children", however the term was coined in the metaphorical sense of "place where children can grow in a natural way" .
In America, school is a noun – defined as “a place where children are educated”. This marks a clear departure and difference from that ideal. What might happen if we adjusted our own definition of school to mean childhood? How would that change our concept of school and more importantly – the definition of school as not only a place, but a time in one’s life when wider-ranging interactions between brain, body, and environment is considered for a holistic education – one of resilience.
There’s No Place Like…
To create an optimistic future for all children, school as a ‘garden of learning’, we must provide a beautiful vision of education as the key to a sustainable future, a future where learners actively contribute to the dynamic balance of nature toward greater human resilience.
Regenerating education to be more creative, more inclusive, more innovative than the current trajectory, is dependent on multiple layers of society. The environments learners are currently in, from the most intimate (home), to the larger school system, and then to the most expansive systems (including society and culture), are prescribed social influences in all aspects of the learner’s experience. This prescriptive approach limits the vision of what education can be for a better world. A new approach focuses on regenerating education through an ecological framework to strengthen the connections between social and environmental ecologies, giving learners more agency to add to the balance of nature. In this talk, we’ll boldly claim a greater vision for education to move toward a fully regenerative system between human nature and nature. With more learners and teachers immersed in natural environments, we have an extraordinary platform to open up young minds into areas we haven’t even thought of, given the opportunity to influence a healthier future – young people will come up with extraordinary ideas. This talk will highlight the benefits of giving all learners time to be enmeshed in multiple ecologies, to empower learners to think with all their senses – to play a role – and to act. It is in this encounter with different ecological environments and the linkages between them, that has the power to transform education and our world.