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“Natural” Kindergarten in Tokyo Sparks New Ideas about School Playtime

16 JUN 2015
Career Path : Education News

Education articles

What do we see when we look at North American kindergartens today? Usually a square classroom, where just outside is a fenced in, square area of grass, perhaps even a sandbox. Japanese architect, Takaharu Tezuka, has an entirely different idea.

Tezuka, founder of Tezuka Architects, was inspired to build a kindergarten that his young children would want to play in. His design is actually circular, with classrooms all joined together with a green space in the middle. The roof of the circle is flat, and designed for children to run around endlessly—no square walls stopping them.

The roof also has sunroofs, so children at recess can see into classrooms, and students in the classroom can see out. This is designed to actually provoke distraction, which promotes the freedom to learn, and dismisses the idea that a classroom must be a quiet box.

In addition to this circular design, water fountains are set up at intervals to promote conversation, chairs are made of lightweight wood in order to be multi-purpose, and trees are strategically placed near classrooms, so children can actually climb to class.

In North America, many of these decisions would be forbidden, fearing that children would get hurt. However, many believe that as a result, today’s playgrounds offer little to the imagination, and actually don’t promote activity as much as they did.

What do you think? Could this Japanese-style kindergarten work in a North American context?