Space is never neu­tral

The Australian Education Reporter - - SCHOOL FURNITURE -

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.

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