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Playground of the mind
Detail: "Hundreds of students who entered 'The School I'd Like' competition have let their imaginations soar and their voices ring out loud and clear. From city and bush schools, five-year-olds sent in paintings and high school students overhauled the curriculum. There were scale models of schools, videos, essays, rap songs, dream catchers, newspapers, poetry, schools in the clouds and by the beach.

The students highlighted friendships as the reason for going to school, the teachers they adored and despised and the toilets they avoided. They wanted autonomy over their uniforms, calling for bright colours instead of boring brown. There were sensible suggestions: allocate homework once a week instead of daily; recycle all school rubbish; replace "rock-hard" plastic chairs with comfy ones; study life skills like how to drive rather than "how to be a good citizen". "

Recommendations made by the students are organised under a range of headings:

GET WITH THE 21ST CENTURY
Teenagers of this generation are dissapointed that the age of technology which has been part of their lives all along has not made an appreciable difference to the way education and educational resources are conceptualised and managed.

TEACHERS WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Children are tired of facing teachers who have lost the joy of both learning and teaching. Teachers with "an ability to laugh and connect with students were at the top of the list."

COMFORTABLE CLASSROOMS
An increase in resources to provide more comfortable and welcoming facilities

A BEAUTIFUL SCHOOL
An increase in the interest taken in the whole school environment, beginning with colour on the walls of classrooms and ending with pretty creepers spilling into classrooms.

Other headings for recommendations included: no more tests, clean the toilets, and a flexible curriculum.

This article is of interest for anyone interested in school environments; children's participation in research and design; and in identifiying what kind of detail children notice in their environment and care about within it.

Author: Linda Doherty
Publication:The Sydney Morning Herald
2005 Copyright John Fairfax Holdings Limited: www.smh.com.au

It is available for online purchase from the website listed below
Source: http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/browseArchive.ac?sy=nstore&cls=581
Date: June 4 2005