I genuinely, with all my heart wish I were kidding about this. But I'm not.
Taxpayers – i.e., you and I, assuming you also have a steady job through which you also fork boo-koos of cash over to the government – just shucked out $300,000 hard-earned dollars to rearrange the furniture in college classrooms.
According to this grant description published Monday, the National Science Foundation just gave $300k to the University of Michigan Ann Arbor so one Cynthia Finelli can study whether using “flexible furniture” (otherwise known as anything not bolted to the floor) is more conducive to student learning than regular fixed desks or lecture-style seating. Read this tidbit for yourself, straight from the grant proposal:
Most university classrooms feature either a traditional lecture-style layout with tables and chairs arranged in front-facing rows or round tables permanently arranged in groups. Some universities, though, are building classrooms of the future that have highly flexible furniture and integrated technology. These innovative classrooms can be reconfigured for multiple uses, such as lecture-style teaching, having students work together in groups, and engaging in a whole-class discussion.
Finelli purports that the ability to shuffle desks around a college classroom may help improve student learning and teacher performance. Therefore, we all get to be on the hook for the study's $300,000 bill – for what, exactly, the grant doesn’t say. I guess we’re all just supposed to assume that’s how much it takes to plunk a few moveable tables down in an Ivory Tower and see if it works out.