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Time To Rethink the School Desk? 405

Posted by timothy
from the time-to-rethink-school-generally dept.
theodp writes "As part of its reimagine the 21st-century classroom project, Slate asks: Is the best way to fix the American classroom to improve the furniture? While adults park their butts in $700 Aeron chairs, kids still sprawl and slump and fidget and dangle their way through the day in school furniture designed to meet or beat a $40 price point. 'We've seen in adults that if you put them in the right chair, their performance increases,' says Harvard's Jack Dennerlein. 'Is the same true for children? I can't see why not.' For school districts with deep pockets, there are choices — a tricked-out Node chair from IDEO and Steelcase can be had for $599."
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Time To Rethink the School Desk?

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  • Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Master Moose (1243274) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:49PM (#34055138) Homepage

    Me thinks that someone wants to sell furniture.

    • Luxury! (Score:4, Funny)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@yah o o .com> on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:55PM (#34055274) Journal

      You had furniture in your school? We had to make do with moldy cardboard boxes for desks and sharp piles of rusting scrap metal for chairs, and we had to collect the scrap metal ourselves from train yards and storm drains. But try telling that to kids these days, they won't believe you!

      • Re:Luxury! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Toe, The (545098) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:06PM (#34055476)

        Moldy cardboard? Wow, you were pampered! We had to use each other as furniture, even though we weren't allowed to eat on weekdays and had to walk naked through five feet of snow for three miles, uphill in both directions. And we used each other as paper too... scratching our notes onto each others' backs with out dirty, cracked fingernails.

      • Re:Luxury! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:06PM (#34055484)

        You had furniture in your school? We had to make do with moldy cardboard boxes for desks and sharp piles of rusting scrap metal for chairs, and we had to collect the scrap metal ourselves from train yards and storm drains.

        We had to use cleverly arranged FedEx boxes [xpda.com] Sure, we sold out, but we all got free mouse pads!

      • Re:Luxury! (Score:5, Funny)

        by aquila.solo (1231830) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @05:31PM (#34056778)
        Feh.

        We didn't even have a building. We held school out in the open; under a tree if we were lucky. And no writing materials either: we just scrawled our equations, diagrams and other lecture notes in the dirt. And that was good enough for us.

        --Aristotle
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Romancer (19668) <romancer@@@deathsdoor...com> on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:03PM (#34055444) Journal

      This is BS, get the metalshop and woodshop to build and maintain the desks. They'll learn to build things to survive the worst and if they have to sit in them anyway they'll make them comfortable too. The higher schools can build for the lower where they don't have the facilities and give it to them at cost since they're learning, kinda like the hair stylist and cooking schools.

      • by goltzc (1284524)
        I have to say this really is a good idea, and me without mod points.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nethead (1563)

        Do you really think you could get that one past the lawyers? One kid gets hurt on some 'shop contraption and the school district gets its funding sued off.

        Lawyers are why the world is so boring today.

      • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by buback (144189) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:41PM (#34056082)
        What metalshop/woodshop? The only thing schools spend money on now is football/sports.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aztracker1 (702135)
        I think this is probably slightly more reasonable to build the desks, than the chairs, simply because of mfg performance and cost for the chairs... When I was in HS, I designed the desks for the drafting lab, that was built by the wood shop students.. it worked out very well and I learned a lot about how to organize to optimize material use, as well as design conditions, height etc... though there will always be the issue of desk/chair height as very few desks will, or do have adjustable height which makes
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        Woodshop? Metalshop? We're talking about the USA here. We don't have those things here any more. They're too dangerous; some kid could lose a finger, and then the school would be sued for millions. Besides, why would kids need those skills? They're not going to use them after they leave school and either work in an office or in a service or retail job. American kids don't need to know anything about how to make things; that's for people in countries like China to do for us.

    • Me thinks that someone is trying to convince schools that these are not just the same old desks with wheels on the bottom.

      If you've spent any time in a schoolroom in the last 15 years, you're familiar with the high pitched whine of metal scraping against linoleum, as students rearrange their chairs and desks to whatever activity is going on. It seems like a minor annoyance, but it's a serious design problem: School furniture was largely designed 50 years ago for static, face-forward teaching. It isn't suited to the myriad forms of teaching that take place in the modern classroom.

      OH GOD, THE HIGH PITCHED WHINE that echos forever preventing any learning from happening! If only that antiquated furniture was designed for the myriad of desk configurations needed in today's fast-paced modern classroom.

      In my day when we had to move desks around, we just slid them. On the snow, uphill at all times. There was at most a minute of squeeking and then the desk distraction

  • by flaming error (1041742) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:49PM (#34055152) Journal

    > if you put them in the right chair, their performance increases

    As far as ROI goes, I think a better investment might be teachers, books, and paper.

    Just sayin'

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Meshach (578918)
      Who knows how all us over twenties survived and still managed to get jobs, mortgages, cars, and RSPs sitting in those primitive uncomfortable chairs?
      • by Altus (1034)

        We managed to do it all that with the same teachers and books and paper that the grandparent was talking about though.

        Since we all, presumably, made it through school and got jobs why should we ever have to change anything about the way we teach kids?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          because we don't want our kids living in our basement until 30? this is slashdot after all....
        • by zero_out (1705074)

          Since we all, presumably, made it through school and got jobs why should we ever have to change anything about the way we teach kids?

          Other countries improve their methods, and their children perform better in adulthood, but we stagnate, they outperform us, we become marginalized, and eventually we fade away. Ancient Egypt was once the mightiest and most advanced empire in the world, but now it's an underdeveloped (3rd world?) country.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CalSolt (999365)

            Oh great, the old "education is much better in the 3rd world" argument. Please. If their education systems were better than ours, they would have better economies.

            Here's the reality. In third world countries they sit around memorizing things all day. So when it comes time to take a math or history or english test, they blow it out of the water. But when it comes time to solve a problem, take risks, or do something new, they're... at a complete loss because they don't know what "creativity" is.

            The Ameri

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by zero_out (1705074)

              Oh great, the old "education is much better in the 3rd world" argument.

              Um... that's not what I was saying at all. I was simply pointing out that other countries are improving their education, and if we don't do the same, they will eventually outperform us. I'm not saying that they are, but if we don't continue to improve our methods until the absolute best method is achieved, then they will. When you're on top, you can't just sit there and enjoy your status, or someone else will come along and steal your position. This was in answer to the GP's question asking why we shou

      • ... "lets never improve anything because some of us managed to make due in totally different conditions almost a century ago" ... yea... good for you managing to get somewhere in a world where skills weren't generally required for jobs, and it was possible to get a job without a high school or college education. Cause, you know, nothing has changed in the past century. It is not about making due, it is about improving systems to make them better. You know, improving things.

        • You go ahead and do all the improving you want to do. Just on your own dime please.
        • by hedwards (940851)
          Indeed, but I'd wager the focus ought to be on what makes a difference rather than things which are more superficial in nature. For the most part, those desks were fine when I was in school. I don't recall them being a problem for most other students either. You got up out of them at least once an hour for a few minutes between classes. Perhaps they do need to be retooled for larger students, but for the most part the basica design was fine.

          Spending the money elsewhere like on better curricula and more i
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yea, I don't really remember caring one bit about how uncomfortable the desks were when I was in school. We don't need to be finding ways to spend more school money right now.
      • I thought the chairs in my school were quite comfortable.

        They were made of plastic, but molded to fit the curve of the body. And remember that kids have more body fat than adults, so a hard surface doesn't really bother them. And finally you can't give office furniture to a student because he'll just take his pen and scrawl on it. That's no big deal when it's a disposable $40 chair, but could get rather expensive for a $700 chair.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)
      You can't invest money in good teachers, though. The union contract demands that everyone get paid the same (based on seniority). And you can't fire any of the lousy teachers. Even if you have teachers who read the newspaper all day long while the kids shoot craps, and get it all on video tape..... they'll sue and you'll have to re-hire them with back pay. Ah, public schools. :)

      (And I was hating on the teachers' unions before Waiting for Superman, so :b in advance)

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:56PM (#34055306)

      Changing the start time has also been shown to increase scores dramatically. Best of all. It's "FREE". Instead of 7/8 - 3. Do 10-5.

      Don't most studies show kids get into the most amount of trouble (sex, drugs, rock and roll) after school before parents are home?

      Start them at 10. They'll sleep until class starts. Wake up, be awake in class and be home when their parents get home.

      • by edmicman (830206) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:11PM (#34055572) Homepage Journal

        Can we do that for corporate America, too?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by argmanah (616458) *
          The average /. user who works in IT probably has later hours on the average compared to corporate America across the board. If you're the exception to this and have to wake up super early, we have positions open here, feel free to submit a resume.
        • by mini me (132455)

          The cool thing about being an adult is that you have free will and are free to work the hours you want. Personally, I find a few hours during the afternoon and a few hours late in the evening work best for me, but you can go with what works best for you.

      • by esme (17526)

        So instead of getting into trouble in the afternoons, kids would get into trouble in the morning, and then skip school, too. I think we should just make the school day to 9-5, and use the extra time to add back the art, music, exercise, etc. that's been cut to make more time for test prep. Of course, that would cost real money, so it's not going to happen any time soon...

        • by Korin43 (881732) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:31PM (#34055890) Homepage

          So instead of getting into trouble in the afternoons, kids would get into trouble in the morning,

          Yeah, I remember waking up early all the time when I was in high school. Oh wait. No.. never.

          I think we should just make the school day to 9-5, and use the extra time to add back the art, music, exercise, etc. that's been cut to make more time for test prep

          Or even better, we could give kids free time so they can explore things they like rather than shoving things you like down their throats.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          They don't get up in the morning... that's the point.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Australians do it that way, starting at 10 am, there was an article about half a year ago on mindhacks about the adolescent sleep behaviour, with a lot of useful details.

        For the furniture problem ... well, we're talking amercan students, so you should use steel, lots of it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by SimonInOz (579741)

          No we don't - at least not in the high school my daughter goes to, nor any of the other schools I've heard of.

          (Nor, by the way, do schoolkids ride to school on kangaroos - I just thought I'd confirm that).

          That said, the 10-5 regime sounds a really good idea - except for just one thing. They'd use that as an excuse to go to bed even later.

          The problem seems to be the adolescent brain being determined to stay awake as long as possible, but the adolescent body needing sleep. Result - late to bed, real trouble g

    • by phsource (1284016) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:59PM (#34055352)
      As a college student, I can testify that an investment in the chair can pay off. Sure, there's teachers and books to spend. However, chairs, chalkboards, smartboards, and other classroom amenities play a part too. The chairs attached to a small writing pad (like the one linked to) are just horrible for a lecture or class. You can fit no more than a small notebook on the surface: want to get out your other notebook, a handout, or your laptop, and take a look at both at the same time? Tough luck! Of course, we shouldn't treat students like royalty and indulge in $800 Aeron chairs, and investment in teachers would help. But we should give them a practical environment where they can sit comfortably, take notes, and make the classroom an effective learning _environment_. After all, that's why people study in their libraries, not their rooms.
      • by AuMatar (183847)

        Everyone I knew studied in their rooms- they were far more comfortable. The libraries were there for when they needed to look up references and to get large groups together. And with the internet the first became less useful.

      • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:15PM (#34055636)
        As a former young person, I can say that if you bought nice chairs, they would not be nice for long.

        You know the saying "People with kids can't have nice things"? Well, it's true. Keep them in the wood/metal/plastic chairs. Anything with padding is a waste of money.
        • You're a former young person? Wow, me too! We should hang out.
        • by Korin43 (881732)

          School chairs could be improved without getting "nice" chairs. For example, all of those one-piece desks would be infinitely more comfortable if they weren't one piece. Similarly, moving chairs slightly farther apart, and keeping chairs from squeaking.

          The chairs at my college aren't particularly uncomfortable except for the problems I mentioned above, and they're all cheap wood and plastic.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mabhatter654 (561290)

            exactly, folks are asking for practical, not posh. A proper chair and a proper work area are different. The big problem is that classrooms were designed for half the students they have now and furniture shrunk to accommodate. Larger work surfaces wouldn't really cost more than what we got now... nice large tables and chairs that promote proper posture would work great.

            I bet the school administrators, or even the lunch lady has better work areas than the students. That's the point really, if the equipment is

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by EvanED (569694)

        The chairs attached to a small writing pad (like the one linked to) are just horrible for a lecture or class. You can fit no more than a small notebook on the surface: want to get out your other notebook, a handout, or your laptop, and take a look at both at the same time? Tough luck!

        You think those are bad for most people? Try one if you're left-handed. I've been in rooms with desks like that bolted to the ground where it's about equally comfortable to use the "desk" attached to my chair as it is to use th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by apoc.famine (621563)
        When I was teaching HS science, I was happy every day that I had 5' tables in my classes instead of desks. 2 students per table, chairs got put up on them at the end of the day so the custodians could sweep under them. (Which was easy, since they had 3' of space to get a broom under.) As needed, I could arrange them well spaced out, (tests, eg.) in pairs to make square tables of 4 students each, in a big circle so everyone was facing each other (debates, eg.) push them all aside for demonstrations, in L sha
    • I think improved furniture would be a boon, but not to the tune of this ridiculous shit at $600.

      First there's price. Yes, a $50 chair of ergonomic contours and aesthetically pleasing lines and tone would be better than a $5 chair of plastic shit. Perhaps wood, polished, gently curved and indented such to offer support without pressure points-- even cushionless this can be done. As much as this sounds like some major research, it's not; the concepts are roughly well understood and something roughly mad

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by careysub (976506)

      As far as ROI goes, I think a better investment might be teachers, books, and paper.

      Just sayin'

      Yup. Currently the U.S. ranks 33rd in educational achievement:
      http://www.geographic.org/country_ranks/educational_score_performance_country_ranks_2009_oecd.html [geographic.org]

      I suspect it is not because the 32 nations above the U.S. have better chairs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:49PM (#34055156)

    Has the author ever looked at the typical school desk? Kids destroy these things--carve them up, knock them over, etc. Durability is worth something, but more importantly, this cheap furniture is cheap to replace. Lord knows it won't make it through more than a couple school seasons without taking a terrible beating. Expensive and comfortable stuff isn't likely to last very long, and is too costly to replace when the kids finally kill it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I say ditch the desk part altogether.

      I learned more in collaborative discussions with my teachers and peers than I ever did by reading and taking notes.

    • Then the solution is to make desks out of whatever they made them from in the 60's/70's... because the school desks I used back then were well nigh indestructible.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        It's called "wood". You get it by chopping up those big leafy things in forests... what are they called? Oh, "trees". Google has some pictures of them.

        • by Jeng (926980)

          Actually I think he may be talking about Bakelite or another substance similar to it.

        • I learned about chopping trees in minecraft, try it! It's the closest thing to actually getting outside, or so they say.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sponge Bath (413667)

      Here [max-secure.com] is some durable, school appropriate furniture.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by danlip (737336)

        Fabulous. I love how a "feature" of each of their products is "attractive look". I have to disagree.

  • SURE! Why not?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by metamechanical (545566) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:50PM (#34055162)
    My school district just declared that their budget is going to increase by 40% over the next 4 years, to over $180 million! Why not throw some of these in there too?? They already announced those numbers so they can let us know that unless we pass gargantuan levies over the next three years, they'll be $70 million in the hole by then - why not throw in some incredibly expensive chairs, too?
    • Re:SURE! Why not?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:15PM (#34055634) Journal

      When the summary said "For school districts with deep pockets..." it really meant "For school districts that are able to reach deeply into the pockets of the local property owners..."

    • by b0bby (201198)

      Where are you? It's hard to believe that any district would be able to call for 10% per year increases in this economy without there being some serious reasons behind it. I live in one of the most affluent counties in the US, and our school budget is frozen. Had there been freezes that they're trying to make up, or what?

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:50PM (#34055176)

    'We've seen in adults that if you put them in the right chair, their performance increases,'

    The 'right' chair is my desk chair at home. My productivity is always better when I'm working from home rather than being on-site at a client.

  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vortexcycle (1600003)
    School systems with deep pockets eh? /sarcasm I guess that is true. You know, I've always just kept spending more and more all my life. It's a great way to survive, look cool, and generally act as a good little consumer. Am I the only one that sees the idea behind this as just insanity?
  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:50PM (#34055188) Journal

    Have you seen what kids are capable of doing to furniture?

    It is hard enough to replace a $40 chair, and for $500 I can replace a dozen or so of the "elite" chairs. No thanks. It is simply amazing how easy it is to spend money, when it isn't yours.

    And working in classrooms all day, I can tell you the chairs are the least of the distractions in the classroom.

  • I don't think so.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Thursday October 28, 2010 @03:51PM (#34055196)

    Actually when I was in school, I never found the seats to be a problem.

    What I _did_ find to be an annoyance was being stuck in them for hours at a time. This was particularily bad in the earlier grades where you tended to stay in the same room.

    Even today I have no problem working in the most uncomfortable chair as long as I can get up every half hour or so and stretch my legs.. even if it is just a quick walk around the building.

    I think this should some how be adopted in schools. I don't know how the logistics would work as I remember just getting everyone back after recess was a chore.. but I think getting away from the desk, even temporarily, is going to do way more than some new fangled "node chair".

    As a side thought: most uncomfortable chairs I find are the ones who either don't have a locking back, or have a back that can't quite be adjusted to the right angle (that is, you have a choice of 90 degree perfect right angle, or fully reclined).

    • Grades 1 through 6 for me had 30 to 45 minute sessions throughout the day, and you almost always changed classrooms for each session (This room is the Math room, that room is the English room, that Room is the Music room) - so anytime you switched subjects you were basically switching rooms.

      Ultimately, Junior high came around, and it was basically the same, except classes were 45 minutes to an hour ish, and you had lockers, and slightly more time in between classes. Then High school came around and it was a

  • Though the state of school chairs could definitely be improved (at least the ones circa 1989-2001 when I was in school), cost is a huge factor, and too much comfort will just put them to sleep.
  • If they care so much about the children then they should be pouring money into all aspects of education. They can't really afford more that $40?

    I think they are pervs because they only think of the children in aspects of porn.

  • How about

    - Train and pay teachers (yes this is socialism)
    - Gut "no child left behind"

    Or.. yknow.. put the cheetos and mountain dew generation into Aerons, that will fix everything

  • fat kids (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonpublic (676412) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:00PM (#34055380)

    Funny that I saw this article earlier today.

    "CHILDREN have grown too big for their school chairs, a survey of 750 schools revealed.

    Teachers said "desk and chair sizes were often inappropriate".

    It is understood the NSW Education Department has been taking orders for custom-sized chairs.

    Paediatric dietician Susie Burrell said children who were overweight often didn't carry obvious fat but instead looked older than their age."

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/school-children-are-now-becoming-too-fat-to-fit-in-class-chairs/story-e6frf7l6-1225944436838 [heraldsun.com.au]

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Actually, this is a real problem at the college level too!

      I was just recently reading the story of a gal who started college and was unable to fit in the desks provided in one of her classrooms. She was determined not to let that get in the way of earning a credit in the course, so she started sitting on the floor. Unfortunately, she was told she wasn't legally allowed to do that (fire hazard, in case people scramble for exits and trample you in the process, or you serve to block them from exiting safely

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:02PM (#34055408)

    So you tell the parents, "Your kids will be smarter if you use product X." Parents in the hyper competitive nature of schools today will do whatever it takes to make sure their child gets the $500 aeron chair. The parents will scrambled to pump as much money as they can into making sure their kid gets the advantage.

    What do you think Apple is doing trying to get iPads into every classroom? Because Apple makes more money off of selling 10million iPads every year to schools, then it does when they buy books/pencils/paper.

    Think of the children and your wallet will open up.

  • Kids like to stand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShavedOrangutan (1930630) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:02PM (#34055410)
    My wife teaches 2nd grade and most of her students prefer to stand while they work. So she lets them stand. The tables in the class room are adjusted to be comfortable while standing (thanks to her nerd husband who always carries tools) and the kids love it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      NY Times had a terrific article [nytimes.com] on this a while ago.

  • We've seen in adults that if you put them in the right chair, their performance increases ... Is the same true for children?

    - Jack Dennerlein, Harvard

    This makes so much sense, if we attached fixtures to hold their arms in place, the kids would be unable to reach away from the desk, forcing them to focus on their work thus greatly increasing the efficiency of the education system. I want my tax dollars being spent on sensible projects that will help my kids to learn, and this one is a prime example - when you think about it, it has multifaceted benefits. For example, the kids would no longer be able to throw paper balls in

  • No amount of comfort is going to help a child pay attention to a subject they aren't interested in. A more comfortable position won't help me pay attention in my history class. On the contrary, it will only help keep my mind focused on a distraction, or worse doze off.
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:05PM (#34055462) Journal

    As part of its reimagine the 21st-century classroom project, Slate asks: Is the best way to fix the American classroom to improve the furniture?

    No.

    Next question?

  • that this is the difference between our public schools and those in countries that are eating our lunch in math and the sciences. "If only our kids had good chairs like the schools in Japan...." School should be about productivity but learning. As a kid, I could never sit still long enough to notice the fit of the chair anyway. This sounds like someone has some chairs to sell at a nice profit margin.

    Regardless, I know there's a Steve Ballmer/chair joke to be made here but I can't seem to put it together

  • by prgrmr (568806) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:09PM (#34055540) Journal
    make them all stand at tables and do their work. Nothing brings focus to a task like having to stand to do it.
  • Having two elementary-school-aged kids, I have observed that the quality/ergo/comfort of furniture is mostly irrelevant to kids. I do not know why this is, perhaps because of a different weight:surface area ratio, or some similar physiological difference. My son's mattress is a "kids" mattress, and it is the most uncomfortable mattress I have ever been on. But he sleeps fine, and he's unable to talk about the difference between his mattress and my mattress. My daughter does her homework at the dinner ta
  • I'm not sure what makes this chair so much better than the existing desks kids use. It doesn't appear to be padded, although presumably the seatback flexes a bit? It's on wheels that will be clogged up with gunk in a year and mean that the chairs will never sit still properly. It has one of those obnoxious swivel desks that look great until you realize that there's nowhere to swivel them to that isn't in the way. Sure there's space for a bookbag underneath the seat, a feature that has been standard on d
  • For school districts with deep pockets

    Isn't that an oxymoron? Either that or I'm being too US centric...
  • Wait, I thought child obesity was only a problem in America! There are fat kids in the rest of the world too!?

  • Riiiiiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:34PM (#34055954)

    While adults park their butts in $700 Aeron chairs

    Hah. Most of my career my butt has been parked in whatever aging POS I could scrounge that wouldn't fall apart.

    Insofar as I do have a nice new chair now (my first), may I observe that those who DO have $700 Aeron chairs do so because they are creating wealth, not just absorbing material. (Those unclear on rules of logic are reminded that the last sentence does not mean those who do not have an expensive chair are not creating wealth.) One EARNS comfort as a matter of surplus, it is not "deserved" by simple existence and presence. The expensive chair sat upon is a consequence of productivity, not a primary means thereto.

    The "to improve education, throw more money at it" crowd fails to realize that by far the biggest factor in education is the student's own willingness to learn. If they don't want to be there, students will squirm just as much in an expensive chair as a cheap one, and get just as little out of the experience.

  • by eepok (545733) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:42PM (#34056106) Homepage

    For a classroom, here's things we can't have:

    Wheels that enable the desk to slide --- Two words: Bumper Cars
    Swivel seats --- Because it's just an excuse to fidget
    ****Better yet... NO MOVING PARTS****
    Required specialist maintenance --- Because it won't be provided
    Real, non-particle board wood --- It's too expensive and warps.
    Any plastic aside from the seat and the chair back --- They're too easily carved, melted, bent, broken, etc.
    Arms/Wings --- Because they're always too sharp and not good for fat kids

    The chair presented in the article is a triumph of design, but it won't work for anyone with any internal child. Yes, that means college students down to kindergartners. It's a Ferrari of desks when schools (ALL schools) look for steel-block engine trucks that require little maintenance beyond a wash and an oil from time to time.

    They should have designed around the restrictions of the user instead of trying to redefine the user with design.

  • Exercise Ball (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Insightfill (554828) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @05:27PM (#34056734) Homepage

    My kid's class has a half dozen of those big exercise balls. For the more fidgety kids, sitting on the ball at their desk allows them a little wiggle so they can let their minds do what they want. Nobody falls down, and not every kid benefits from the "ball-chair", but it helps certain kids a LOT.

    Face it: most office chairs allow at least a rotation axis. If your desk chair didn't rotate a little you'd spend a LOT of time fighting the chair. By allowing a little freedom of movement, you can work with the tool and not against it.

  • Hell, yes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by russotto (537200) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @07:41PM (#34057956) Journal

    OK, maybe not these overpriced toys. But a rather large number of the chairs I was stuck with in primary and secondary school had a molded and textured plastic seat and back with large metal rivets holding the back and seat to a metal frame. Never mind the ordinary discomfort of such an apparatus. Consider what happens when cloth moves against plastic... you get a static charge. Guess where that discharges? Right through the metal rivets. So in dry weather, sitting in such a chair meant constantly getting shocked in the back, legs, and butt. Real conducive to learning, that.

    Here [worthingtondirect.com] is one incarnation of said torture device.

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @08:09PM (#34058112)
    The teachers suck, the schools suck, the curriculum sucks, the textbooks suck, the culture sucks. QUICK SOMEONE FIX THE CHAIRS

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