Space is never neutral
THE physical classroom environment will either enhance or detract from a child’s learning experience.
Educators need to be cognizant of this effect and incorporate it into their pedagogy.
All sorts of considerations can come into play and a space that works today could have the opposite effect tomorrow with a different set of factors.
While the building, walls and fixtures are “fixed” by nature, loose furniture can be used to adapt the space to better support pedagogy and the specific requirements at a point in time.
Sebel has taken an innovative approach to dealing with this issue.
The iconic Australian furniture manufacturer has invested heavily in research into education spaces.
“We have found that it’s not enough that the furniture is high-quality, or tested and designed specifically for educational use, it needs to be applied correctly,” Sebel’s incoming chief executive Trevor Vyner said.
In addition to a dedicated R&D department, Sebel recently created the new role of Director of Research into Education Spaces, appointing learning space professional Andrew Ford.
Having run more than 100 workshops with schools and universities across Australia and internationally, Andrew said the key insights were to be flexible and to encourage participation.
Andrew has developed an innovative classroom design workshop based on the principles of participatory design and design thinking.
In the collaborative workshop, teachers, students and other stakeholders (and even parents) come together to discuss their vision for teaching, their challenges and concerns and how best to deal with these using the physical space.
“Although furniture is important, it is less important than involving your people in the design process and helping them deal with change,” Mr Ford said.
“This new approach has opened our eyes to the benefits of working collaboratively with educators.”
Andrew Ford exploring learning space options with Macquarie Fields High School students using their innovative scale 3D classroom furniture models.