Education Update: 4/22/15

Eastside Catholic School IntegrusEducation Update is a weekly blog post highlighting recent developments in the world of education. The linked articles and summaries are not endorsements, rather frame points of view to begin conversations about the state of education, trends, and how we as designers can play an active role in shaping schools.

For Special-Needs Students, Custom Furniture Out Of Schoolhouse Scraps

The New York Times reports on Michael Konstalid, a physical therapist with the New York Education Department, who has been building custom furniture for students with physical disabilities throughout public schools in Brooklyn. Mr. Konstalid learned carpentry from his father and has been using his skills in an increasing capacity to allow students to better function in the classroom. His material palate consists of scrap wood and pieces from school basements. He has zero budget. Much of his work consists of building custom chairs—adding a back rest or arms to make the chair more comfortable. A mother of a student for whom Mr. Konstalid has built one of his chairs for said, “He gets that these small changes are huge for kids in their environment, and it really doesn’t have to be complicated.” While a new piece of furniture may cost thousands and stand out from the other pieces, Mr. Konstalid’s projects are designed to sit with the other chairs and make his students feel included.

How to really change education — excerpt from Sir Ken Robinson’s new book

Sir Ken Robinson, presenter of the now-famous 2006 TED talk, How Schools Kill Creativity, has published a new book on his education philosophy, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming EducationThe Washington Post has published an excerpt highlighting, in his own words, the root of the education system problems. Mr. Robinson focuses on the declining state of the industrialized education system and proposes renewed focus on individualized learning for pupils and communities. The Post is not the only outlet to write about Mr. Robinson. Mindshift has also published an excerpt on his notions of creativity in the classroom. Further, here is a link to 2006 TED talk.

Sensitivity to stress shaped during first 2 years of life, UW study finds

The Seattle Times reports on a study showing that increased stress in the first two years of life can have detrimental long term impacts. The 15 year study followed abandoned children in Romania who were subsequently placed in orphanages or foster care. The study shows that children who were not placed with a family has substantially underdeveloped areas of their brains, an effect that in some cases was reversed when a child was placed with foster parents years later. A new study from the University of Washington shows the complex mechanisms at work for infants and young children dealing with stress in the absence of a parental figure.

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