The shopping (and fantasizing about the dream classrooms as if I were a billionaire) really reminded me of something I read from Dr. Montessori on the issue of the classrooms, or more importantly on the issue of freedom - allowing children the freedom to learn.
There is really no better way to learn than in your own way, making your own mistakes and learning from them, and choosing to learn in a way that speaks to you - and having the freedom to do so.
Don't worry, you won't find any stationary desk and chairs in these classrooms.
The school must permit the free, natural manifestations of the child if in the school scientific pedagogy is to be born. This is the essential reform.
No one may affirm that such a principle already exists in pedagogy and in the school. It is true that some pedagogues, led by Rousseau, have given voice to impracticable principles and vague aspirations for the liberty of the child, but the true concept of liberty is practically unknown to educators....
The principle of slavery still pervades pedagogy, and, therefore, the same principle pervades the school. I need only give one proof–the stationary desks and chairs. Here we have, for example, a striking evidence of the errors of the early materialistic scientific pedagogy which, with mistaken zeal and energy, carried the barren stones of science to the rebuilding of the crumbling walls of the school. The schools were at first furnished with the long, narrow benches upon which the children were crowded together. Then came science and perfected the bench. In this work much attention was paid to the recent contributions of anthropology. The age of the child and the length of his limbs were considered in placing the seat at the right height. The distance between the seat and the desk was calculated with infinite care, in order that the child’s back should not become deformed, and, finally, the seats were separated and the width so closely calculated that the child could barely seat himself upon it, while to stretch himself by making any lateral movements was impossible. This was done in order that he might be separated from his neighbour. These desks are constructed in such a way as to render the child visible in all his immobility. One of the ends sought through this separation is the prevention of immoral acts in the schoolroom. What shall we say of such prudence in a state of society where it would be considered scandalous to give voice to principles of sex morality in education, for fear we might thus contaminate innocence? And, yet, here we have science lending itself to this hypocrisy, fabricating machines! Not only this; obliging science goes farther still, perfecting the benches in such a way as to permit to the greatest possible extent the immobility of the child, or, if you wish, to repress every movement of the child.
It is all so arranged that, when the child is well-fitted into his place, the desk and chair themselves force him to assume the position considered to be hygienically comfortable. The seat, the foot-rest, the desks are arranged in such a way that the child can never stand at his work. He is allotted only sufficient space for sitting in an erect position. It is in such ways that schoolroom desks and benches have advanced toward perfection. Every cult of the so-called scientific pedagogy has designed a model scientific desk. Not a few nations have become proud of their “national desk,”–and in the struggle of competition these various machines have been patented.”
Excerpt From: Montessori, Maria. “The Montessori Method.” Wilder Publications, LLC.