School ‘Haus’ Rock: What 21st-century education can learn from early German modernists

By Morgan Appel, director of UC San Diego Extension's Education Department

If you were a young adult during the 1980s, you may first associate the Bauhaus with the underpinnings of nouveau Gothic music and the demise of Bela Lugosi. Others, perhaps involved in design or similar disciplines, may recognize Bauhaus as both school and the roots of the German modernist movement from the earliest part of the twentieth century. Bauhaus, roughly translated into ‘House of Construction’ was a holistic endeavor that sought to bring together a variety of disciplines, emphasizing interrelatedness, harmony, form and function. In very real ways, the Bauhaus presented an inspired response to the heavy-handed, overly complex and ornate Victorian era.

In its promotion of free flow of ideas; process; choice and freedom of expression, the Bauhaus served as precursor to modernism of the 1960s; Brutalism; and the design postulates associated with Camelot and the jet/atomic age.

Whether they knew it or not, those associated with the Bauhaus movement, such as Mies van der Rohe, Wassily Kandinsky and Walter Gropius, adhered closely to the best tenets of brain-friendly learning. These included the intertwining of the affective and cognitive; engaging ‘flow,’ creativity and commitment; and differentiating content and instruction to stimulate the needs of all learners. These types of activities inspired marvelous innovations for the period, and architectural wonders in Europe that continue to awe to this very day.

Although the Bauhaus saw its demise with the rise of National Socialism in the late 1920s and 30s, its influence remains present and relevant. Take, for example, Common Core State Standards (CCCS) in education that emerged in the wake of and as a response to the much-more regimented No Child Left Behind (NCLB) established in the mid-1990s. Inasmuch as NCLB was about accountability and assessment, Common Core highlights the metacognitive and process, scaffolding upon those skills, abilities and interests students bring to the table. Common Core purports to embrace multidimensional, multimodal and multisensory learning with emotional engagement—part and parcel of the Bauhaus. There is also a great deal of room for creative and critical thinking, individual and collaborative work, attention to precision and big-picture work.

In spring quarter 2014, the Education Department will offer "An Aesthetic Approach to the Core," a salary-scale applicable professional development course that distils the most salient and germane elements of the Bauhaus and later modernist movements and how these philosophies and strategies can be best used in the 21st century classroom. The course will focus on curricular integration; motivation; innovation; and the integration of differentiated teaching and learning to make the most of every student experience.

For more information about this article or "An Aesthetic Approach to the Core," please contact Morgan Appel, Director, Education Department at

Posted: 8/13/2013 12:00:00 AM with 0 comments
Filed under: Arts, Bauhaus, Candidates, Common-core, Design, Differentiation, Education-2, Learning, Nclb, Pupils, Teaching

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