During the second half of the 20th century, there was an epic deterioration of the urban fabric of the typical American neighborhood. Starting with the fleeing of city dwellers into the outskirts of suburbia in the 1950s and the exodus of commercial institutions in the 1970s, neighborhood sprawl hit its stride with the elimination of the neighborhood school in the 1980s. With this community-defining component being replaced by giant, remote educational facilities, the American neighborhood was finally a shell of its former self. If the neighborhood represents the cell, then the home represents the nucleus. In 2003, 1.1 million children were being homeschooled in America, with signs of homeschooling becoming a growing trend. One of the main reasons parents chose to homeschool their children was concern about the environment of other schools. With a large number of students being sent to mega-schools and a growing number of students being homeschooled, there is an increasing gap between the scales of schools being used for education, and neither seems to be a complete solution.
In addition, a significant part of relevant literacy in todays global community deals with digital literacy. The digital divide is the gap between those people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those without. Many institutions including the United Nations believe the digital divide is the key to local and global, social and economic inequalities. Information, or knowledge, is being stored and made accessible through digital means. However, if a person does not know how to access this information, they are less equipped than the person who does, and the problem of a gap in knowledge becomes exponentially larger.
In what ways can low population learning environments be networked into the urban fabric of a blighted neighborhood for the purpose of improving academic performance? In addition, what are the social, civic and economic opportunities and disadvantages afforded to a neighborhood when a digital learning network is overlaid with a physical network of learning environments?
This thesis intends to reestablish the neighborhood school, by injecting contemporary, low-population learning environments branded as HOM-S to act as a brand of modular architecture which will bridge the gap between the home and the school. The solution is proposed as potentially ubiquitous, but for the sake of this thesis I will be using the neighborhoods surrounding Holmes Elementary School and Liberty City Elementary School in Miami, Fl, as its site. This neighborhood has a high crime rate, low testing scores, high dropout rate, lack of positive identity, and low economic class, and therefore represents the extreme conditions this thesis is poised to remediate. The program will be defined as a pre-university learning environment that is meant to complement and correct at-risk education systems and the neighborhoods they serve. The HOM-S will be a bridge between the home and the mega-school, creating both an education path and a campus network for pre-university students. Through the use of flexible technology, distance learning networks, and site sensitive architecture, as well as a re-interpretation of curriculum and teacher-student roles, these environments will be designed to turn deteriorated neighborhoods into healthy communities.
Advisor:Charles Bohl, Ph.D.; Katherine Wheeler, Ph.D.; David Rifkind, Ph.D.; John Stuart
School:University of Miami
School Location:USA - Florida
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:05/09/2009