Over the last two months I have had the opportunity to team up with Advanced Cabinet Systems to conduct a study examining the effects that environment has on learning. Throughout my time spent researching and designing the ideal classroom setting, my eyes have been opened to the inefficient practices used within the majority of classrooms in today's school systems, as well as the great need for designers to create learning environments that will have a positive, lasting effect on the next generation. The following is an excerpt of my research that will be released in its entirety later this month.
No two individuals think exactly alike, therefore, there is no easy way to know what is best for every person in a specific scenario. What if the environment of a classroom could be manipulated by architects and designers to create a space that is more conducive to learning? The face of education has changed immensely over the past century--so why hasn’t the classroom?
Numerous studies have shown that classrooms found in today's schools are typically designed to meet the needs of the educator, while often disregarding the needs of the student. A classroom set up around the needs of the educator is usually only beneficial to one person--the educator. This can present a serious stumbling block for a student's success in school. When the only choice is to listen, watch, and learn in a space that is rarely comfortable and highly constrictive, educators are left with lasting results that are less than impressive. As a future designer, this leaves me to question why the current design of classrooms largely favors the educator, when education at large was established to target the children?
By understanding the different styles of learning from one student to the next, we can better understand how to effectively tailor our designs to reach the needs of all people in an educational environment. When each style of learning is uniquely analyzed and incorporated into the classroom design, a space can be created to meet the needs of all students and assist them in furthering their education. The idea of teachers researching each child and tailoring their teaching methods to fit their specific style of learning is a relatively new approach to education. Traditionally, schools have used linguistic and logical teaching methods to assess students, but this approach is becoming outdated and irrelevant to the modern learner. Much like the traditional approach to teaching is being reassessed, so should the spaces where education is taking place.
The intergration of technology in the classroom is quickly changing education and learning environments. Most students in school today have a cell phone, an iPod, and commonly their own personal laptop. Though these items are great tools for research, communication, and innovation, students are often found using them within their learning environment as tools of distraction, leaving educators to wonder if they truly deserve a regular place within the classroom. When used correctly technology has the ability to decrease student distraction and increase engagement. Educators have a variety of options for creatively intergrating technology into their lesson plans, from using cell phones as clickers for answer questions, to using laptops for immediate research and collaboration. If done correctly technology can be an effective tool that engages students in their work.
If designers and educators come together to make these changes the classrooms of the future will have very little in common with those of today, allowing young minds to develop in an environment that is conducive to their learning style and encouraging them to be more than they could ever imagine.