The 2008 Summer Olympic Games are underway in Beijing, China, and it's time to channel your inner athlete — or inner couch potato — whatever the case may be.
While watching the Olympics, you may notice that most results don't leave room for argument. It's easy to determine a winner when it's all about the time clock. Michael Phelps won his first gold medal in the men's 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4 minutes, 3.84 seconds.
Scoring other events, such as gymnastics, is subjective. So much so that in 2006, the “Code of Points” and the entire scoring system were overhauled. A judging controversy in the 2004 Olympic games brought the reliability and objectivity of the scoring system into question. Proponents of the new “Code of Points” say it is necessary to advance the sport, as it promotes difficult skills and more objective judging. Opponents say that without an emphasis on artistry, the sport's essence will change and that the new code abolishes the excitement of attaining a “perfect 10.”
It's the same with school design. One person may appreciate a dramatic entrance; another would rather see something that blends into the background. One person may enjoy bright colors, another would prefer something more subdued.
You might be thinking it would be nice to have a “Code of Points,” so that every education institution could follow the “rules” of school design. Realistically, though, the perfect school will never exist, because the factors that affect school design are endless: budgets, region, trends in technology, the list goes on.
When our jury was looking at projects this year for the Educational Interiors Showcase, it brought to the table different opinions about aesthetics. But in the end, the discussions were about some of the essential elements of education design — security, creating an environment for learning, a healthful environment — and how to package that into an award-winning facility.
Looking through this issue, we hope you will be inspired by some of these school designs. A special thanks to the jurors — David Magida, Frank Sever and Charlie Wilson — who created that “perfect” combination of the objective and subjective.
Web 101: Get on the bus
Some of your comments about a question we asked recently at SchoolhouseBeat: The Blog regarding whether it's wise for school districts to be cutting student transportation:
“I think by cutting busing, you are cutting a form of mass transit and simply shifting an even greater expense to the parents by putting more of them on the road having to bring their children to school.”
”The carbon footprint of having a few buses making their routes has to be much smaller than hundreds of cars operating to take kids to and from school. The safety factor, overall cost factor and the convenience for the parents has to be much more favorable as well.”
”Too often, buses run to schools way under capacity because parents are driving kids to school. This not only wastes their fuel but also increases air pollution around the schools.”
Lustig is executive editor of AS&U.