The Agile Classroom
November 15, 2018
In a previous post we spoke of different types of learning and the spaces to accommodate those approaches (if you missed it, read it here).
If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember learning in a standard classroom setting: the teacher was at the front, the desks arranged in tidy rows facing forward, and the seats of the chairs were hard enough to crack walnuts. For an added bonus, sometimes the desk and the chair were a single unit and you had to slide in from the side. Consider for a moment that in the 5th & 6th grades alone students can vary in height from four feet to six feet and it becomes clear that settings like these were not ideal, nor were they conducive to learning.
Educational approaches have changed in so many ways: we now know, for one example, that the “stop fidgeting!” warning we heard over and over again was bad advice. Kids need to fidget, and it’s been repeatedly proven that they learn better when their environment (and their furniture) allows for movement. Fidgeting is brain development in disguise.
And more than ever, children need comfort at school as much as they do at home, not in the sense of plush chairs (don’t rule it out, though) but in the sense of a soft, quiet and welcoming space to be by themselves or with a few friends. In other words, pretty much the opposite of the metal desks lined up like gridlocked traffic.
And while all of these generalizations are true, we also need to remember that different students learn in different ways, and teachers themselves may take very diverse approaches to the same material.
So how do we reconcile all that individuality with the grid of desks? How do we take a limited amount of space and accommodate the campfire and the watering hole, the fidgeting and the time for quiet reflection?
The answer is in the agile classroom, a space that can be quickly reconfigured to address these different needs. In the agile learning environment, furniture is portable and convertible, creating spaces to engage different kinds of learners and different kinds of teachers. The agile classroom quickly and easily progresses from a traditional classroom layout to collaborative group work to student presentations, and allows the teacher’s role to progress from “the sage on the stage” to “the guide on the side.”
We love the work we do in bringing creative solutions to educational environments, and we know it makes a real difference in our collective future.
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