The aim of any school is to inspire, educate and foster a love of learning in its students.
The design of a school and its learning spaces has a direct impact in achieving that. Each space should foster curiosity, creativity, and collaboration and enable skills that support learning throughout life.
There has been growing momentum of the last decade calling for a reform in the education system that tackles the complexities of the 21st century learning environment. With the recent health crisis now is really good time to review and revise our educational practices.
One area of review that particularly interests us is the increased focus on schools as physical spaces. A move away from the traditional model whereby the teach imparts knowledge to the student to one which is pupil driven, where the children are encouraged to develop their own ideas in a much more hands-on practical way is having a direct impact on school design.
Designing exciting and inspiring spaces for classroom isn’t as complicated as it sounds. In fact, some of the best ideas are the simplest!
FIX THE BASICS
As Ray L. Hamon pointed out, ‘There has probably been more research on heating and ventilating than on any other feature of the school plant.’
It is important to ensure that you’re meeting required standards on air quality, temperature, noise and lighting.
REDUCE THE LOAD
If your students are regularly carrying heavy bags into school, do what you can to lighten their load. You could share more detailed information on the essentials that are required each day or, if possible, provide easily accessible storage like school lockers. In going that extra mile to make sure your pupils are comfortable and alert can have a real impact on engagement.
ASK YOUR STUDENTS
Do we consider the views and needs of our students enough?
Classroom design in particular is an area where the desires of students and even the staff are often ignored. The truth is, it’s much easier to make potentially costly design decisions at an administrative level.
Conduct a survey and gather the ideas and thoughts of your teaching staff and your students, allow them to play an active role in your design thinking. For example, allowing students from different departments to showcase their work on the school walls can provide a great sense of achievement amongst students.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
We understand that budgets can be tight and before purchasing expensive collaborative furniture, why not try rearranging your current classroom to mimic the sorts of changes new furniture might bring.
Get feedback from students and teachers to see how it is working for them. If the new space can’t be copied, try introducing a smaller version of it – a single classroom or area.
USE ALL SENSES
To assist in creating an environment which supports different ways of learning considers all the senses when designing your new learning space.
Much research has supported multisensory teaching methods; however it’s also important to build spaces that support this approach.
Considering visual complexity, colour and texture, sound, all of which can have a profound effect on mood, mental clarity and energy levels.
This has become a bit if a buzz word in recent years with the many research projects supporting the idea that group learning far outweighs individual learning. In order to successfully incorporate collaborative learning requires support from school environment itself.
This can in the way of technology like interactive white boards or through the layout and design of the classroom itself.
Technology often used to dictate the design and layout of learning spaces, but now it’s much more mobile, flexible and affordable that the needs of the learner be priority.
It is important to consider the interaction between furniture, technology when designing a learning space. This approach to learning requires an end to traditional desks and tables in a row and for a more dynamic and flexible approach. Truly ergonomic seating, adjustable furniture and access to resources all become key features or inspired learning spaces.
Creating inspiring and engaging spaces comes from a real understanding and appreciation for the desires and needs of your students and teachers. Lab Fit has extensive experience and knowledge in effective use of space and providing stimulating educational environments