Building Walls and Closing Spaces

November 03, 2008 1 min read

The 30-year-old classrooms without walls experiment might be coming to an end in Maryland, The Baltimore Sun reports. Born out of the progressive cultural shifts of the 1970s, classrooms without walls were part of a movement to rethink the traditional structure of schools and to encourage collaboration and interdisciplinary learning.

But today the experiment is being looked at as a “failed relic” out of keeping with new academic objectives and mandates. Many teachers and students simply find the open space loud and distracting.

Several Maryland counties are advocating an end to the program and are allocating funds for the major renovations needed for that to happen. “The bottom line is: They’re not, in my opinion, a good environment for learning,” said one county school board member. "“We tried that experiment. It didn’t work.”

Despite the frustrations with the lack of walls, however, there is no strong correlation between open spaces classrooms and poor student performance. According the Sun, “more than 90 percent of the students at Crofton Elementary [an open space school in Anne Arundel County] have consistently performed as either proficient or advanced on the annual Maryland School Assessment.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.