Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cruising and Personal Space

This is a follow up to my last post about introversion and classroom design.

Last week, I got back from a trip to Europe.  My generous mom took me, my wife, my daughter, my sister and her two girls to the Mediterranean.  Last year, my mom, expressed a desire to take us all on a family trip somewhere to create some family memories, but with the potential of being positive family memories.  We deliberated for months, eliminating places because of cost, dietary restrictions, interest, etc. and somehow achieved consensus on a cruise in the Mediterranean. 

It was a wonderful time.  We saw amazing sights, we had great experiences, we created lasting, positive memories.  Mission accomplished.

But the part I want to talk about here is the cruising experience, especially with respect to introversion and space design

The ship we were on was a marvel.  There were 7 passenger decks.  There were 8 restaurants, 5 bars, 2 swimming pools, 3 stages, and a library.  The staff and crew were lovely, friendly people who worked tirelessly.  I really liked ever single crew member I met, especially when I took into consideration what they had to put up with: 2000 passengers.

Take 2000 people and put them in a confined space, and what do you call it?  Prison.  A cruise.  Actually, there are many similarities to cruises and prisons except on a cruise the food is better, tourists behave worse than inmates, and the cruise staff are only armed with manners.  Maybe it is because so many people are in a relatively small space, but people do odd things and either carry on as if they are the only people on board (e.g. cut through long lines of people waiting to get their fresh prune juice, talk non-stop or sing along with every performance, stick their feet on the chair beside you so you too can enjoy how much they walked all day in the hot sun, etc.) or over-compensate so that everyone wished those people were the only ones on board (e.g. treat the staff rudely or like slaves, hoard tables or food, "There is too much walking on this {walking} tour!", etc.).

But I paid special attention to what they ship did to mitigate this inevitable behaviour:
  • They offered different kinds of activities during different times of the day: cooking classes, dance, bar hopping, performances, sports, lectures, trivia, etc.
  • They spaced those different kinds of activities, and thus different kinds of people, to different kinds of places on the ship.  The library was not under the basketball court, the religious services were not to close to a bar or casino, etc.
  • They tried to stagger eating times as much as possible. 
  • They made the staterooms a viable refuge for seclusion.  They made each of the guest rooms very sound proof.  Apart from the odd hallway noise and vacuuming, I never head anything from the rooms adjoining ours.  If your room did not have a balcony so you could sit and read or gaze out at the ocean, you could watch a wide selection of movies or watch the video feed from the front of the ship.  The cruise also provided 24-hour complimentary in room food service delivered to your door which was ideal if you had had your fill of the combat-level buffet on the Lido deck. 
The ship did everything they could to minimize the lines, crowds and impact of the confined spaces. And what can classrooms learn from this?  Probably what we already knew:
  • Have different places for different people, different activities.
  • Try to stagger times so line ups don't occur, or spread materials out so that students don't have to crowd up or compete to get things (including information or instruction).
  • Have viable options for people who need to be alone at certain times.  I'm going to try to create more caves in my class this year, possibly with music playing through noise reducing earbuds, to help those students who need to recharge.  I won't be providing room service. 
I have to say that despite being an introvert and usually avoiding large groups or people, I did amazingly well on the cruise.  I did not jump ship nor set any of my fellow passengers adrift in one of the life rafts in the middle of the night.  The thought MIGHT have crossed my mind.