Ever been to a children’s museum? Perhaps like this one or this one? They tend to be colorful, friendly buildings. Now contrast that with an image of a typical public elementary school. Remove the bulletin boards and posters at the school, and you’re likely left with a dark, dank, monochrome edifice.
But not all public schools fit that profile. The pop culture website Flavorwire recently did a feature on the 20 “most beautiful and imaginative public schools in the world"—and indeed, it’s worth a look.
The list includes only two U.S. schools, both of which are located in California. Western Europe comes out looking like the region for new parents to move to, with six beautiful schools in France, three in Spain, and one each in the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal. A bright blue school in Afghanistan (a country not exactly known for its progressive education sector) even made the list.
For me, the “beautiful” schools have two salient characteristics in common: color and light. Seems there could be a lesson in this about window washing and wall painting for even the most cash-strapped of schools.
Photo: The Visual and Performing Arts High School in Los Angeles —Damian Dovarganes/AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.