The School of the Future

Back to the future: welcome to my school for the space age, as envisaged in my art homework in 1965. I was ahead of my time: that airy auditorium reminds me of the Scottish Parliament, which didn’t get built until forty years later. No wonder I felt so relaxed and at home, when we visited Holyrood last summer.

The Writing on the Wall

My high-tec teaching aids are now commonplace in the classroom: projectors, televisions and my analogue version of today’s computer-controlled whiteboards.

Each desk has its own reel-to-reel tape recorder but, typical of school, the pupils have to share: one between two.

The CC camera looks remarkably like my dad’s Standard 8 cine camera. The Pye logo dates my drawing to a time when British electronic products still had a big share of the market.

I appear to have gone for Greek mythology as the theme for the murals.

Coffee Bar

In my school days refreshments were only ever milk at morning break and tap water, served in from an aluminium jug in Duralex tumblers, at lunchtime, but I’ve remedied that by installing a coffee machine.

Pupils could enjoy their break overlooking what appears to be a ruralised version of the Calder Valley, with rolling hills beyond a row of trees. A Concorde (or is it a TSR2 jet fighter?) zooms by in the distance.

In reality the view from my school included a gasometer, a railway marshalling yards, textile mills and, beyond them, the twin cooling towers and tall chimney of Dewsbury power station.

The post-industrial Calder Valley now includes a swathe of woodland, which grew up remarkably quickly when the marshalling yard closed down.

Birds and Books

Stuffed birds add a retro Victorian touch to the library area but perhaps they’re teaching aids too, because, hopefully, in my new improved curriculum, birdwatching has replaced football.

I can see the influence of television science fiction in my design; the plant screen by the entrance wouldn’t look out of place in Thunderbirds HQ on Tracy Island. In real life, you’d be most likely to find this kind of feature in a coffee bar, such as in the Acropolis near the entrance to Wakefield bus station.

The reception desk.

Educating Richard

Running for my school house, Pickard: a great way to get out of football.

Fifty years ago, in the spring of 1967, I was busy revising for my O-level exams and my vision of the future of education implies that it’s going to continue to be a top down process; I assumed that in the future we will still be taking somebody’s word for it, rather than exploring the world for ourselves. We’re not going to be encouraged to question received wisdom.

The coffee machine and the beckoning hills hint at my preferred way to develop a world view: to get out with a sketchbook, to walk through the world and discover it for ourselves. And to take regular breaks for coffee.

Heading for the hills in the school cross country.

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