When I lived in New York City, I saw a lot of amazing school stuff going on. Gorgeous gardens tucked between skyscrapers. Tall cast iron gates helping children feel important and special. Tons of details that were too expensive for the lifestyle we could afford. I spent a lot of time wishing I could get my kids into a school like that.

Today my friend Melissa sent me these photos of a school in Denmark. My first thought was, “I want my house to feel this good as this school.”

Then I thought how it’s such a huge shift for me to be concerned about the house instead of the school. If the kids are in school for the majority of their waking day, then I feel obligated to focus on making school the best place. It they are not at school then I can focus on our home.

It’s great if every place in a child’s life is magical and perfect and full of wooden panels pointing to big dreams. But every place cannot be like that, and parents need to focus their energy on something. It’s a relief to me to focus it on our home.

9 replies
  1. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I like that you are about substance and I think you probably model this for your children. Conversely, I also admire your personal sense of style. Aesthetics layered over values is best!

    Reply
  2. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    The more they try and sell it, the more suspicious I become.

    School sales = another chance to fit in, become someone, be “yourself” (as though one must buy one’s self?!), set the trend, follow the trend.

    It’s the image of what you want on the inside. Vacation destinations are image, image, image. Yet the most rested I have ever been only takes place when I meditate. In my living room. On a 30.00 cushion with a handful of candles burning.

    Going somewhere to rest? That’s about someone making money with the allure of better,shinier, newer, more interesting. ‘Cause if you can’t relax where you live, you won’t relax somewhere else, either. If you can’t learn in ratty pajama pants and a soccer jersey (yes, that is frequently worn around here), you won’t learn better in stain resistant khakis and a crisp polo shirt. You’ll just “look” smart.

    Reply
    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Any post I could make would be a repeat/ditto to yours Jennifer ;-)

      After visiting a bunch of private schools awhile back, my husband declared that everywhere we go that is supposedly so “special” because of their lighting, or their sports, or edu programs and their “treating children as individuals,” seem to all end up being repackaged public schools with fancy bows and a language class added…then all they wanted to know was about our “financial status” and “payment preferences.” they never really asked or cared about who are children are. And the “we go where fill-in-bank movie star, rich musician, politician sends their kid” blah blah blah….bragging rights. We met with the marketing recruiters, rarely teachers, “our entire student body is gifted.” my husband would whisper, “with trust funds.”

      Reply
  3. CJ
    CJ says:

    Penelope, I just wanted to comment on the aesthetic appeal aspect,mbecause I remembered that you and I share a love of Restoration Hardware (if I knew how to post pics on here I would show you my living room), on what we used to discuss in the CA housing boom/market. I see that space you are seeing there as the same: it is supposed to appeal to the parents, more than it would the kids directly because it is an ideal for what we think our kids need. And our kids dont even think about this fantasy ideal in most cases. The CA construction boom in the 90s, the master sweets and the kitchens and family great rooms were all very grand, then the upstairs children’s bedrooms were tiny tiny tiny. Because the contactors and marketers knew the buyers (the parents) had an ideal for family image they wanted to both enjoy and portray so most wouldn’t notice their kids beds wouldn’t even fit! And man it worked. I am with you entirely, I am over the eye candy!

    Reply
  4. David
    David says:

    Actually it might be school porn to a parent. But many a young child are oblivious to the social “value” of their educational surroundings.

    Reply
  5. redrock
    redrock says:

    It is interesting that the photo is from a school in Denmark – this kind of open rooms with lots of wood and light is a very typical design for scandinavian countries. It is wonderful and often even rather mundane buildings incorporate some aspect of this kind of design. Interestingly there is also a rule which requires offices to have windows! The school shown here is most likely a public school, and since students are assigned to the public school in their districts (or town) it is actually not necessary to wow the parents. The design is for the students and teachers to create a people rather than job centered environment. Even highly technical environments often have elements of this kind of design, even if it is only in the form of a nice coffee room or lunch kitchen. Don’t get me wrong: there are dingy places in Scandinavia like everywhere else, but there is a large effort to build for the people occupying the space.

    Reply
  6. My Boys' Teacher
    My Boys' Teacher says:

    “If the kids are in school for the majority of their waking day, then I feel obligated to focus on making school the best place. It they are not at school then I can focus on our home.” Love that!

    Reply

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