More than a coat of fresh paint in Finland

| November 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

Finland’s superior student scores have been under scrutiny for some time. Now it transpires that the general quality of the country’s education environments contributes to student success.

The Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki provided Americans with a look at seven schools in a recent exhibition at the Finnish embassy in New York. It appears that, like its curriculum, Finland’s schools are created collaboratively: architects conceptualise schools in conjunction with teachers and managers, and bear in mind the needs of students. For example, there is a 15-minute break between lessons in Finnish schools, so facilities are laid out in clusters, with multiple gathering places inside and out to allow for changes in the weather.

Research suggests that building design can affect social issues like bullying, so the seven Finnish schools on display showed buildings devoid of isolated areas, and with easy sight lines for adults at all times and from all angles. And Strömberg and Kirkkojärvi schools have made floor-toceiling windows, skylights and additional windows in walls between classrooms part of their fundamental design, based on other research that indicates that students exposed to more natural light develop complex vocabularies and science skills, and pupils who have a view of the outside do better in maths and languages.

Recent international studies also reinforce what must be an obvious fact: that making schools beautiful equals a positive learning experience. Online magazine flavorwire.com recently asked a panel of international architects to search out the most beautiful schools in the world: they found them in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Saint-Denis, France; The Hague, the Netherlands; Santa Marta, Colombia; Nagahama, Japan; Porto, Portugal; La Orotava, Spain; Copenhagen, Denmark; Los Angeles, California; Sra Pou, Cambodia; Barvaux-Condroz, Belgium and Herat, Afghanistan. Independent Education will feature these schools in forthcoming issues.

Category: Summer 2012

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