While designers are busy creating the classroom of the future, many students are stuck in not merely unimaginative school buildings but actually disgusting ones. The 21st Century School Fund and Healthy Schools Campaign, which work for improvements in education facilities, and Critical Exposure, which uses student photography as an advocacy tool, believe that no one can show what is and isn't working in school buildings better than the people inside them. Each year, they ask students and teachers to shoot the best and worst of their surroundings. The "Through Your Lens" exhibit features an awful lot of peeling paint and broken windows—the kind of environment you wouldn't want your kid in for an hour, much less a childhood. But the photographers also highlight examples of spaces that work, flashes of color and sunlight and order in otherwise chaotic surroundings.
Here is a gallery of images from 2009.
In this crowdsourced Hive project, Slate is trying to reinvent the American classroom. (Read this explanation why.) We're inviting you to envision, and design, a new American classroom for fifth-graders. Your entries can be shovel-ready or fanciful. All entries must have a written description, and we strongly encourage submitting a sketch or a plan, so fellow readers can help visualize your ideas.
You can submit your design between now and Wednesday, Oct. 29. You can vote and comment on the ideas here. In early November, our expert judges and readers will choose a dozen finalists, and we'll select a winner in mid-November. Click here to read terms and conditions, then please enter your great idea here.