Three years ago, 'quiet carriages' on Sydney trains were implemented. They allowed commuters a self-regulated space where they would be free of loud music, mobile phones, chatter, etc.
In a time of such 'noise' and busyness, schools would benefit from a variety of different practices and spaces where students and teachers can think in silence, without interruption. What if schools introduced:
- no bells - this works successfully in my own school; everyone is mindful of the time and moves off when they need to.
- a variety of different spaces that were designated in different ways: you might have some 'quiet carriages,' some collaborative group spaces, some individual work spaces, some spaces for quiet reflection when there is a need to take a step back from work.
- at least 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day. Perhaps this might be a guided meditation that everyone would do simultaneously, or perhaps there might be a programme that people can access in their own time.
- 'gallery walks' instead of assemblies - the space would be re-designed so that it is more like an art gallery than an assembly hall with hundreds of chairs. Students and staff would all have their time in the 'gallery,' observing works (news), hearing updates (watching videos and listening to the audio through headphones), etc. They could choose how long they wanted to spend there and how much they devoted to each item.
When thinking about how spaces might be redesigned, I am reminded of Square's office in New York that has a central boulevard and is designed much like a city, as well as a circular kindergarten in Japan that sees students use different spaces and levels to collaborate, move freely and then eventually return to their work (TED talk here).