This week learning focused upon the physical components of the classroom environment, in becoming aware of the differing elements to take into consideration when developing and designing the physical structure of the classroom, and therefore school.
Three articles were explored:
Read, M. (2010). Contemplating design: listening to children’s preferences about classroom design. Creative Education, 1 (2), 75-80.
This article discussed the elements of high visual stimulation and low visual stimulation within the classroom and the preferences of young children in regards to this visual stimulation. High visual stimulation is often perceived by children as messy and overwhelming, whereas low visual stimulation is often plain. Interestingly, girls were more respondent to high visual stimulation environments. What is important to consider is the elements combined to create visual stimulation. These elements include line and shape. Within the classroom horizontal lines reflect stability and calmness, vertical lines reflect height and strength, diagonal lines reflect strong movement and curvy lines reflect rhythm and flow. Particular shapes within the classroom also reflect certain things; circles reflect calming and inviting environments, squares reflect rigidness and triangles reflect rigidness and are uninviting with sharp corners. This is interesting to be aware of to develop appropriate and inviting settings for children to engage and learn in.
Cinar, I. (2010). Classroom geography: who sit where in the traditional classrooms? The Journal of International Social Research, 3 (10), 200-212.
This discussed the positioning of individuals within a learning space significantly reflect learning for the individual. Seating within a classroom should allow for interaction and extension of learning; student’s preferences of seating often predetermine the learning capacity of students. It was found students who preferred to sit in the front of the classroom were more motivated and willing to learn, whilst those students who preferred the back were less engaged, willing to learn and contribute to the learning. This becomes interesting when it is noted student’s preferences change according to teacher, subject and classroom arrangement.
Schratzenstaller, A. (2010). The Classroom of the Past. In K. Makitalo-Siegl, J. Zottmann, F. Kaplan & F. Fischer (Eds.), Classroom of the Future: Orchestrating Collaborative Spaces (pp. 15-39). Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
This article discussed the influences of the past on future classroom design. History has shaped the way education of today looks and this is similarly the case for classrooms. In the 19th century, classrooms were full of rows of seats and tables, where the teacher was on a pedestal; the classroom was highly rigid and disciplined. The 20th century saw a shift to more flexible classrooms, to reflect the constructivist pedagogy. This meant tables and chairs could more easily be moved around and grouped together to make collaboration more possible. Into the 21st century and the classrooms are still reflecting these 19th and 20th century designs. Although the 21st century has changed the shape of education and society, classrooms are remaining in the past. In the past, change was enacted in the classroom design through the need of society and it’s change. The beginning of the 21st century has seen a dramatic change in society with the introduction of technology into the world. This societal change has not been reflected in the classroom. Education of today is designed to enable students for the future of the 21st century, however how is this possible when the means of learning, i.e. the classroom, is still in the past, i.e. 19th and 20th century classroom design?
What does this all mean for me?
Developing a classroom environment in the 21st century means being aware of the needs of the 21st century. Students hold a number of preferences which need to be considered in developing a classroom environment. To develop a welcoming and inviting space, I need to consider the shapes and lines used in order to create a visually stimulating room which reflects the needs of the students in the room. Similarly I need to be aware of the students’ preferences of sitting in the room and how this affects their capacity to work. For those students’ who constantly desire to sit up the back, how can I engage them in the learning so they desire to contribute? How do I arrange the seating to optimise the learning of all in the room, those that are motivated and those which need motivational help? Does the way I arrange the tables reflect 21st century needs or do they reflect the 19th century disciplinary values? I need to be aware of how I arrange the room to optimise learning and seating of individuals and how this reflects the learning needed for the 21st century. To be considered is the design of the classroom for enhancing the learning of the needs of society today and into the future, not the needs of the past society. How can I enhance the learning of students to participate in 21st century life in a 21st century classroom? What does this classroom look like?