No nation in world history has been so ambitious as the United States, setting out to educate 100% of its citizens. A lofty, yet inspiring goal indeed. It is an opportunity and a privilege. Yet, upon closer inspection, the K-12 school experience bears an awful resemblance to a life of prison.
Granted, most prisoners made a choice that led them to prison, while all of us are thrust into the school system with little choice or decision making input. Take a moment to reflect and conduct a small experiment in compare/contrast with the images below.
Space Design & Industrial Layout
Recess & Playground
Supervision and Security
Walking in Straight Lines
The Cafeteria Experience
School and Prison: What’s the Difference?
While the similarities of these images paints a rather depressing picture of school, there are many differences between the prison and K12 school experience that are positive. Much of these images focuses on how people and spaces are organized vs. daily goals and learning activities. It is meant to be thought-provoking rather than an indictment.
Here’s my opinion. Schools need to consider the possibilities of how we organize people and learning spaces to be more nurturing, allow for more freedom, and create less parallel to the prison experience.