Reimaging Learning Spaces: Can Restaurants Stimulate Our Curiosity and Our Taste Buds?

The potential opportunities for learning virtually anywhere, anytime and anyplace are, of course, nearly infinite. This is why vitaegogy, a life of learning, is entirely possible to sustain. Meaningful learning is possible at amusement parks, hos­pitals, factories, malls…anywhere.

In this series, we’ll share a few examples clearly demonstrating that there’s room for L3 Learning in just about every place.

Body and mind

The Nourish outdoor greenhouse provides more learning opportunities for people of all ages.

When you think of learning spaces, what comes to mind? Classrooms and lecture halls? What about a restaurant? After all, we often learn of new foods and new ways to prepare and serve them by just eating at restaurants. But beyond that—and the insightful conversations we have with those we dine with—how else could a restaurant stimulate our curiosity, as well as our taste buds? One possible way is through a restaurant and microbrewery concept called “Nourish” that aims to provide both the body and the mind with what they need to grow.

Imagine Nourish located in an aging urban environment on the edge of a central business district—an ideal place to find affordable commercial real estate, and to help lift up an area ripe for reclamation and resurgence.

The Nourish concept has two major components. The first is a full-service restaurant and microbrewery, with supplemental teach­ing kitchens. The second is an adjoining outdoor area for open-air and greenhouse gardening, as well as chicken coops to keep a fresh supply of eggs on hand. (Talk about a true farm-to-table restaurant experience!) Nourish could support local farmers through markets it hosts on its property and, of course, through its direct purchases. (In addition, Nourish could tap local farmers to teach gardening and harvesting classes at its facility.)

The new classroom

Nourish dining room doubles as a learning space.

On top of serving as a restaurant, the facility could offer classes for people of all ages and skill levels covering a variety of topics. For instance, kids could gain a greater understanding of how food grows, and adults could learn how to prepare a perfect pecan-crusted rainbow trout. Classes could run from the general (“How to get the greatest yield from your backyard garden”) to the truly niche (“How to brew Czechoslovakian beer”).

Some classes could also address more technical and even scientific topics, such as “Understanding restaurant finances” and “The molecular biology of brewing.” Some Nourish classes could even be co­ordinated with the local schools’ Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) curriculums and the area’s adult-education providers, all of whom can appreciate the “living lab” component.

The learning that Nourish could enable doesn’t all have to hap­pen on site. The restaurant and microbrewery could produce online educational videos, and also send speakers to schools, companies and community centers. It could even publish white papers and a reg­ular online magazine sharing all sorts of tips, recipes, research find­ings and more.

Nourish would likely be the only restaurant to hope that you always leave hungry. Hungry to learn more, that is.

This content was originally published in our book “9 Billion Schools: Why the World Needs Lifelong, Personalized Learning for All.” Stay tuned for more in our series about reimagining learning spaces!