The world around us has changed dramatically, from the way in which technology intertwines in our everyday tasks, to the way in which it has disrupted entire industries, yet classrooms look exactly the same as they did 30 years ago.
A computer or tablet and internet access are no longer considered luxury, they have become essential classroom tools for both teachers and students. We can’t expect for children to be able to find anything they are curious about in mere seconds using Google at home, but have to read through a book in school in order to achieve the same result. Sadly, classrooms are not always well-equipped.
The workplace has drastically changed in the last two decades and our children are one day soon going to work in environments for which they are not being prepared in classrooms. Today’s workplaces are designed as open spaces to encourage collaboration, yet classrooms are not built to inspire collaboration and allow working in teams. Workplaces today are hyper-connected. Employees are constantly connected to the internet, social media, websites and apps, yet children in classrooms rarely are equipped with these technology tools.
With this in mind, educators and designers are now creating environments in which learning can imitate life. Finding moments to educate using real life scenarios is probably one of the most impactful ways to teach children. We like to call the classroom that facilitates this kind of learning "The Living Classroom".
Here are simple elements one can implement to create "The Living Classroom" environment and develop students who are ready to take on the world once they finish schooling.
The Living Classroom concept suggests that classrooms be equipped with collaborative furniture, which creates synergy between teaching and learning collaboration.
The Living Classroom concept defines the perfect classroom as one that is well connected to technology. One way in which it enables this, is by adding electrical outlets and USB ports to select furniture.
Organic classrooms must be flexible and arranged according to the evolving needs of students and the learning methodology, which includes the need to learn to work in teams and the use of technology to meet the demands of workplaces.
Physical elements in the space, like furniture and even walls, are movable, as to make it possible to turn the space from a classroom into a meeting space, social area, or something else. Learning spaces may have multiple needs and functions and the activities that take place in them may change based on the instructor’s style, his or her pedagogical approach.
The growing organic and Go Green Movement is defining the future of the workplace and everyday living. The living classroom concept has natural light, plants and other elements from nature, that serve as a tool to teach students life skills, as well as respect for the earth and others. It also serves to teach art, design and science. What’s more, depending on the instructor’s style and children’s learning styles, a classroom may incorporate elements that awaken the senses, such as color, light, sound, movement and emotional elements.
Students are able to learn more effectively and stay more engaged with the learning material, when their creativity is encouraged. Furniture that can be rearranged to work in teams can have a cognitive and physiological impact on students by motivating the stronger students to help the weaker ones and motivate them all to be active participants in the learning process.
By designing classrooms that are in line with today’s advanced and digitally-lead world, and that encourage collaboration, students are better prepared to acquire the skills they’ll need in tomorrow’s working environments. Simply put, good classroom designs are a smart investment in our children’s future.