The idea that environments themselves significantly impact learning is a relatively new concept. Previously, discussions on how to improve classroom activity focused primarily on methods of teaching. The book Learning Spaces by Diana B. Oblinger challenges these old ideas and ways of thinking by shifting the focus away from simply what teachers and students are doing in the classroom and stepping back and examining the classroom as a whole. We are encouraged to consider how the design and composition of learning environments impact students, classroom culture, and the learning process.
Chapter 2 from Part I of the book Learning Spaces titled “Challenging Traditional Assumptions and Rethinking Learning Spaces” by Nancy Van Note Chism presents an interesting argument. In this section of the book, we are prompted to reflect on and challenge traditional methods of thinking about classroom design in higher education settings.
The author explains how traditional classroom designs that focus on the teacher, have a fixed layout, and focus on learning at the individual level are ineffective. The author argues that we need to challenge these assumptions. Rather, classroom and school designs should be focused on comfort, flexibility, collaboration, sensory stimulation, and flow.
While we agree wholeheartedly with the author’s ideas on the design of learning spaces and how they need to change, we believe that these concepts can be applied to more than just higher education environments. Yes, college students need to be given a place to thrive. Classrooms with tablet armchairs that lack spaces for collaboration limit learning and classroom growth.
However, these types of learning spaces should be provided to learners from a very early age. Not only will this help to foster the types of skills needed to thrive and excel in these environments and make transitions easier, but it can help set students on the path to success from the very beginning so that they have an opportunity to go to college and after graduating, become leaders in their chosen field.
Learning is a lifelong process. That’s why at the Supple Collection, we focus on creating solutions that can facilitate learning at all ages. We also believe that there is an inherent value in bringing learners of different ages and backgrounds together. Truly, the conversation should not be limited to how we can improve higher education, but rather how can we make improvements in society and communities by addressing problematic issues in learning environments. This spans across all stages and types of learning, from that which transpires in schools to libraries and co-working spaces.
However, we are excited to see this change in mentality about how environment and space impact the learning process. We look forward to seeing these types of discussions continue as leaders take the role in addressing problematic issues in learning spaces. We hope to be able to connect these like-minded individuals and people who are concerned with learning with our furniture and classroom design solutions.
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Do you have thoughts on the design of learning environments that you would like to share or discuss? Are you looking for ways to improve learning in your school or classroom? We would love to hear from you. Complete the contact page on our website and we will be in touch shortly!