Almost no educators understand how school buildings can undermine the success of both students and teachers. Lack of fresh air lowers brain function – leading to lower standardized test scores, even among the brightest students.
Generally speaking, there are four generations of school buildings. All have unique features that either help learning, or hurt it. In the oldest generation of buildings, there is no machine to bring in fresh air. If you wanted the kids to get fresh air, you either opened a window, and/or a hallway door, or you sent them outside. Now the windows are nailed shut for security and caulked to save energy, the kids eat in the cafeteria, often have recess in the gym, and take a bus home. And their brains do not work well.
The oldest buildings, like the one shown above, were built before air conditioning was widely used. The space conditioning technology can only change the temperature – in the winter, a boiler heats water, which is pumped through the building to heat classrooms. In the summer, cool water is pumped around. In no case was fresh air pumped into the building.
But in those days, the kids walked to school, often went home for lunch, and had outdoor recess. Their brain got a lot of oxygen.
The amount of fresh air they get exposed to outside has been reduced significantly.
The same can be true with inside air in modern school buildings like the one shown here even though they have the mechanical tools to bring in fresh air.
It costs money to heat or cool outside fresh air, and in many cases the facilities people shut off fresh air intake in order to save energy costs.
They have no idea that they are shutting down the kids’ brains enough to reduce their grades one or two letters.
In either case, our kids’ exposure to fresh air has been significantly reduced. And so is their mental functioning. (You can read the science behind this statement by clicking here.)