Cristopher Alexander's A Pattern Language (on-line here ) from 1977 introduced the ideas of design patterns and pattern languages. Unfortunatly, his ideas had a cascading impact on software design - but hardly any influence in the area where they were conceved: architecture and town planning.
Why unforutunatly? Well, here are a few of his ideas about education. If only they would have been at least discussed:
18 .NETWORK OF LEARNING
In a society which emphasizes teaching, children and students - and
adults - become passive and unable to think or act for themselves.
Creative, active individuals can only grow up in a society which
emphasizes learning instead of teaching.
Instead of the lock-step of compulsory schooling in a fixed
place, work in piecemeal ways to decentralize the process of learning
and enrich it through contact with many places and people all over the
city: workshops, teachers at home or walking through the city,
professionals willing to take on the young as helpers, older children
teaching younger children, museums, youth groups traveling, scholarly
seminars, industrial workshops, old people, and so on. Conceive of all
these situations as forming the backbone of the learning process;
survey all these situations, describe them, and publish them as the
city's "curriculum"; then let students, children, their families and
neighborhoods weave together for themselves the situations that
comprise their "school" paying as they go with standard vouchers,
raised by community tax. Build new educational facilities in a way
which extends and enriches this network.
43 .UNIVERSITY AS MARKETPLACE
Concentrated, cloistered universities, with closed admission
policies and rigid procedures which dictate who may teach a course,
kill opportunities for learning.
Establish the university as a marketplace of higher
education. As a social conception this means that the university is
open to people of all ages, on a full-time, part-time, or course by
course basis. Anyone can offer a class. Anyone can take a class.
Physically, the university marketplace has a central crossroads where
its main buildings and offices are, and the meeting rooms and labs
ripple out from this crossroads - at first concentrated in small
buildings along pedestrian streets and then gradually becoming more
dispersed and mixed with the town.
83...MASTER AND APRENTICES
The fundamental learning situation is one in which a person learns by helping someone who really knows what he is doing.
Arrange the work in every workgroup, industry, and office, in
such a way that work and learning go forward hand in hand. Treat every
piece of work as an opportunity for learning. To this end, organize
work around a tradition of masters and apprentices: and support this
form of social organization with a division of the workspace into
spatial clusters - one for each master and his apprenticeswhere they
can work and meet together.
Teenage is the time of passage between childhood and adulthood. In
traditional societies, this passage is accompanied by rites which suit
the psychological demands of the transition. But in modern society the
"high school" fails entirely to provide this passage.
Replace the "high school" with an institution which is actually
a model of adult society, in which the students take on most of the
responsibility for learning and social life, with clearly defined roles
and forms of discipline. Provide adult guidance, both for the learning,
and the social structure of the society; but keep them as far as
feasible, in the hands of the students.
Around the age of 6 or 7, children develop a great need to learn by
doing, to make their mark on a community outside the home. If the
setting is right, these needs lead children directly to basic skills
and habits of learning.
Instead of building large public schools for children 7 to 12,
set up tiny independent schools, one school at a time. Keep the school
small, so that its overheads are low and a teacher-student ratio of
1:10 can be maintained. Locate it in the public part of the community,
with a shopfront and three or four rooms.