U.S. Educators, Architects Help Craft 'School of 21st Century'Near Moscow

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

A team of educators and architects from the Pacific Northwest has returned this month from a trip to the Soviet Union where they have begun working with their Soviet counterparts to design and build an innovative school in the suburbs of Moscow.

Authorities in the Russian Republic hope to build a "School of the 21st Century" 'in Khoroshevsky, a community on the outskirts of the Soviet capital. As planned, the school would be built on a plot adjacent to a park and a high-tech medical complex and would serve between 800 and 1,200 students in grades 8-12.

Franklin Hill, an American architect who is coordinating the effort, said the Soviets first approached him about helping them build such a school after they heard him discuss innovative education practices at a conference in Moscow early last year.

Since then, Mr. Hill, who is based in Kirkland, Wash., a Seattle suburb, has made several trips to the Soviet Union to start planning a building that would include the latest in educational technology and would allow the Soviets to experiment with various school reforms.

Mr. Hill said the school should be built within the next two years. However, he noted, the Soviet Un8ion's deteriorating economy may put a damper on their plans.

"I'm trying to be positive in a very difficult economic time right now," he said.

Further Visits Planned

On his most recent trip, Mr. Hill was accompanied by another architect and by five educators--four from Washington State and the superintendent of a suburban system near Vancouver, British Columbia.

Mr. Hill said he asked these educators, most of whom are his former clients, to join the project since he knew they were interested in incorporating technology and innovative educational techniques into their programs.

On what is hoped to be the first of several exchange trips, the North American delegation visted Soviet schools and met with the minister of education for the Russian Republic.

This fall, a high-ranking delegation of Soviet educators plans to visit schools in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Hill said.

This trip will be followed by visits by some of the educators who will be chosen to work in the new school, he added.

Based on the result of these trips, Mr. Hill said, both the Americans and Soviets will offer their advice as to what sort of educational program they would like to see in the school, as well as the space and technological needs of the program.

One challenge of this project, the architect said, is working with the Soviets to design an innovative facility in a country that has not favored unusual uses of space or novel building forms for most of this century.

"There are 500 of the same high school in Moscow," he said. "You can turn the same way, down the same corridor, in each one."

Mr. Hill said that he and the Soviets are looking to the private sector to help fund the project. The Moscow office of the International Business Machines Corporation, for example, has agreed to donate computers to the school, he said.

John Anderson, coordinator of the "Schools for the 21st Century" school-reform project in the Washington State Department of Public Instruction, and a member of the delegation that just returned from Moscow, said he believes that American and Soviet educators can learn much from each other's experiences.

"They are dealing with some of the same demographic problems as we are," he said. By observing the Soviet education system, he said, Americans "can get some new perspectives on these problems."

Foreign Ministers Visit

As part of another international exchange effort, seven education ministers from five emerging democratic nations in Eastern and Central Europe came to the United States this month for a week-long tour to explore ways to improve their education systems.

Representatives from Bulgaria, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania met with U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander and nine governors. The education ministers from each of the countries then visited schools, local parent-teacher associations, and school boards in two states apiece.

Vol. 10, Issue 36

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories