Geoffrey L. Gogan, Architect

"Well crafted, appropriate, budget conscious design"

The information shown below is an area of interest as we are always mentoring interns, and trying to be as creative as we were when young children.   I offer it here for now because we do cater so some families interested in the "Home Schooling" and "Charter School" movement.  We also have noticed many referrals coming through the various private and public schools from clients interested in Curriculum development.   More and more is being discovered on how kids learn, and that its all about letting them creatively solve problems, not rote memory and repetition.  Creative adults are really just people who didn't have their innate intuitive ability destroyed during schooling.  Somehow they survived.  One of the recent articles was published in Newsweek Magazine

Lets not forget that "Education" or "Schooling" is the primary activity of all children and should continue for grown ups.  Homes should be responsive to this.  For example, we consider homework areas, crafts, arts, music, reading, cottage industries, internet surveillance, library areas, acoustics, and we plan ahead for the fact that kids grow up and needs change.  

These charts also reflect my interest in how we distinguish between the "Here and Now" perceptible visible world and the unseen extension into the past and future - where our building products came from, how much energy was used to produce them, who invented the technology, and how our decisions will affect the future and other people on the other side of the planet.  The only way to really deal with this extended field of information and affect is by diagramming or representing it and tying it to the manifestation in our sensible world. 

For example on could think of water coming out of a faucet, or gas from a stove.  Then imagine the piping system, underground distribution, pumps, wells, in nature, and then forward to the affect down the line through a concealed system of waste pipes, into the street, to a sewage treatment plant and back into the local river. 

I think one could expand on curricula that start real problems here and now, and then slowly extend - into the past and future as research is needed to solve problems in new ways.

Jean Piaget found that children learn best by doing - first intuitively - then reflecting on the actions, abstracting them and imagining them along with other hypothetical possibilities - learning to reason.  So again, the tension between the physical reality around us and the represented or imagined reality that is invisible and extended beyond.    Most creative work relies on collaboration in small groups as ideas are exchanged, communicated and mixed together in new ways.

I studied this subject in college as an Area of Concentration, and still have many of Piaget's and Maria Montessori's books among others about the creative process.

Wall chart of World History

These 15 pages were printed as one long page that is "fanfolded".  This is an facsimile of the original 1890 version is still available at
Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.  The Copyright has expired.  An updated version, renamed the "Timechart of World History"  with additional copyrited info for the 20th Century and more about the history of each major country is also available. 

This would become the starting point for a curriculum but it would be extended back billions of years to the big bang, and forward.  It could also be extended up and down as new categories are added. I have gathered a lot of research on various topics.  "Hot zones" will be defined so as you float over them, a bubble of text will expand, and if you click, it will link to another page, video, etc. etc.  Again, the idea is that we can retain information better if we structure it the same way that it evolved logically, and as it related to other contemporaneous events.

The images are very detailed, so if you want, right click a couple, then "Save Picture" to your hard drive.  You should be able to view it with Windows Image viewer and zoom in.  It is worth purchasing, and they are often on the discount shelf at Barnes and Noble.   If you look at the Book Store sites, some teachers left glowing recommendations.

Again, most of our time is spent helping families with custom design.  We all have lower priority interests.  This is one of mine.  We "Home-Schooled" our kids for a while.   
How might this relate to House Design?  For some, it won't, but I think we all should be continuing our education - in a way, completing our own version of this.  Events aren't really lined up as diagramed in the timeline.  History is really about transformation, development of the same place.  Just as our clothes reflect our current state, tastes, feeling, the next layer is our house.  Buildings could and should transform, and change to respond to various forces at work.  We change a child's room from Infancy, through College.  We update kitchens and baths.  We re-decorate, but is there more "Flexibility" that could be programmed into the structural system?  Could they be as easy to change as office partition systems? Plug and Play? 

I became interested in how kids learn back in College when Don Wall, one of my professors exposed us to Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget, a Genetic Epistemologist who wrote many books that suggested many concepts develop in the child's mind as a result of his reflections on full scale muscular actions manipulating the environment or materials.  He asked us to design some full scale manipulable environments for pre-schoolers.  I guess I dove into it more than the others and ended up with a "Minor" in "Developmental Architecture". I still own all of Piaget's books.  After graduating, I worked with teachers from K-12 in Newark, Paterson, East Windsor, and elsewhere showing them that kids love to build, and that all traditional subjects can be taught as part of the real world building problems. 

As I read more, I learned that children repeat on an "Ontogenetic Scale" (a human life span), the same discoveries that happened to Mankind on the "Phylogenetic" scale.  Piaget said, "Learning is to invent or re-invent"  The best teachers pose challenges with the right level of difficulty and ask the kids to solve it based on previous experience.  Too many teachers try to prescribe to the student the step by step process of solving an equation, expecting them to just memorize the behavior and pass the test.
With respect to math, which is a key subject, Issac Asimov wrote a great short book, "The Realm of Numbers". It was required reading in Newark's, University High School.   It took me back to my Boy Scout days, as we hiked in the woods, navigating with a compass, maps estimating heights and distances, into, out of, around, straightness, etc.   I believe I had an easier time with math, after these full scale exercises. My success with math was rooted in the woods, and my own back yard transformations.

Getting back to the idea that individuals learn best when concepts are allowed to transform and develop following the logical pattern.  The student must re-discover or re-invent.  This means learning is really Problem Solving and Creativity. 

I started looking for "Timelines" showing these Phylogenetic patterns and how simpler concepts became more complex.   I wanted to create a long one that could be scaled, and which would evolve, but at the time the internet wasn't yet mature. such plastic documents weren't possible especially with any size or detail.  

My ideal would be a graphic that would take Wikipedia entries and chart them chronologically allowing others to contribute or to create hot spots where one could watch a PBS program on Einstein or Discovery program on the "Earth" - whatever.  The learning would become organic and responsive.  Some days a student might want to spend hours on physics, but he would be able to switch instantly from the state of that science to music at the time.   This would help motivate learning and kids would jump out of bed in the morning anxious to get to school, or to the Den for Home Schooling.  Distance Education has become the norm for many Universities and High Schools, archiving lectures, labs etc on line for retrieval at anytime.

There have been a few stories about people who have total recall of every moment of their life.  It has become apparent that the human brain navigates and structures memory by creating a grid and then attaching meaningful events to it - kind of an internal GPS system.   Might the same be true of non-spatial information? that it is attached to a spatial grid (hence the interest by an architect)?  Rather than rote memory of dates and names, we might learn better when it is all in the context of a chronology or narrative tied to other contemporaneous events.

I hope to connect with Curriculum Committees currently looking for new ideas.  New Jersey is currently doing that.   I did start with some html timelines, researched some of what has been done, and found a chart that was done by hand over a hundred years ago, thus making it available without copyright concerns.  it might be a beginning, because we could just create hot spots on the graphics.  They might even tie into one of the "Online curriculums"    I could imagine some of those long hallway walls in schools covered with a printout and classes being held in the hallway.