Designing Schools for Humans

Humans are Built to Walk:

Not run. Not jump. Not swim. Walk.

We have arched feet and an astonishingly efficient walking gait. We think better when we walk, and our happiness and sense of purpose may be tied to the simple act of wandering about.

It’s not that we’re good at walking; it’s that we are walkers. It’s in us.

Humans Create:

There are no uncreative humans. Every single person you’ve ever met has made something; think about that. They’ve taken raw, disorganized parts, and taken entropy out behind the woodshed. Paintings, solutions, technology, protocols, games, jokes, it goes on forever.

It’s not that we’re good at creating, it’s that we literally can’t avoid doing it.

Humans Cook:

This isn’t even an option. Our teeth, guts, fingers, and land speed are a joke compared to other animals our weight. Without cooking, there’s little chance of ever taking in enough calories to power your brain to do all the aforementioned creating.

Cooking food in essence pre-digests it. It unravels the proteins that cost so much water to unravel internally. It breaks up the starches that otherwise we wouldn’t have the molecular machinery to break up. Cooking makes unpalatable slop into bread. Bread. Let’s not even talk about yogurt.

But the raw food diet! But be quiet.

It’s not that we like to cook, or that it tastes better, it’s that we absolutely must cook.

Humans Tell Stories

Our brains hang onto stories likes it’s their job, because, well, it is. The oral tradition of history, for the majority of humanity’s existence was the only way to record history. Listening to stories of how Uncle Jerry stepped on a nest of ground diggers and was super sad about it was how we learned that there are such horrifying things as ground diggers.

A story is compelling. It’s why Hollywood can package the same trash over and over and make millions each time. It’s why you’ll listen to a piece on NPR about the dude that invented the public restroom hand blow dryer (I did, for 15 minutes straight to the point of idling my car in the parking lot like a total tool bag)

The story, with the emotions and fortunes of its players, is so compelling to us not because we like it, but because it’s how we learn.

So, How Does School Rank?

The current model of high school fails every single one of these measures. Are they arbitrary? Maybe, but I’m a blogger and this is my blog.

Do we walk, cook, create, and story tell? Regularly? Is your school built to emphasize these parts of being human?

I hope I’m conveying a dire and steely tone and not comedy. I’m not saying this is optional or cute; I’m saying that if you ignore the end users’ requirements for interacting with your system, you’re going to get insanity, like expecting the scorpion not to sting the fox (It was probably very clear what four letter word the fox said at that point, btw).

Wait, “Insanity?” Sure! Like, cheating, pining for breaks, hoping for snow days to avoid learning, dropping interesting lines of inquiry the moment a bell rings, taking “easy” classes, noting lunch as a favorite “class,” caring about extra-curriculars above academics, etc…

I’m just saying that a school that is mobile, centered on creating solutions, allows for sensible food preparation and production, and built on narrative is the only school that I want my kids going to.

Also, we had a college student apply to attend BIG last week. What does that mean?

Also also wik: read this – The Story of the Human Body by Lieberman.