NPR

Century-Old Decisions That Impact Children Every Day

Alexandra Lange's new book has insights on the influence of school and classroom design on children's learning throughout history.
The one-room schoolhouse of Colonial days was a simple design built from local materials. Kids sat on benches with the oldest in the back. While nostalgia has kept these in our minds, they were hardly conducive for much beyond basic rote learning. Source: LA Johnson

Alexandra Lange's interest in school design started in her childhood, when she read Little House on the Prairie, with its indelible depiction of Laura's one-room schoolhouse in Wisconsin.

Today, she's an architecture and design critic. Her new book, The Design of Childhood, considers the physical spaces where our children learn and grow: from the living room rug crowded with toys, to the streets, welcoming or dangerous, to classrooms, bright and new or dilapidated.

I felt like a lot of the contemporary discussion about education was really focused on content," she tells NPR. "In that really tight space in front of the kid's face. And as someone interested in design I'm always interested in, what kind of room are you in? How much natural light does it get?

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