A couple of weeks ago I was at an amazing conference, The MACUL Conference. It is a technology conference for educators in Michigan. 6000+ educators. Awesome!
Anyway, while I was there I was charged with checking out some possible classroom environment changes we are looking into for our school. Specifically furniture. We want to see what is out there for classrooms, to provide flexible learning opportunities our students. This huge to me, I love it. I try to give my students as much freedom to move and sit where they want during our day as I can handle.
I went to the vendors area. I knew there would be some companies showcasing the latest and greatest in classroom furniture options. I met with a salesman about the furniture he had displayed. It was great stuff. Seats that rocked, twisted, were on wheels, easy to move and configure “on the fly” for whole group, small group, and individual learning times. Tables that rise and lower with ease. Small couches and bookcases with seating options. Really amazing stuff. So I asked, “Do you have any of this for elementary kids?” I explained that I work in a K-2 building. He grimaced and said “no”. He went on to explain how lower elementary kids are kinda of a “niche market”. WHAT???? You see, the amazing furniture he had can be used for upper elementary, all the way up to the corporate training room. One size fits most. One product line that hits the maximum market available. I get it but c’mon, once again our students are a commodity. Which leaves us to our desks and chairs that were manufactured 30 years ago, designed 60 years ago, for an educational philosophy over 100 years old. Excuse my language but THAT SUCKS!
Our youngest learners, who are preparing for jobs that haven’t even been conceptualized or created yet, are not a “niche” market.
They are THE MARKET!