LEARNING SPACE DESIGN
In this August 2012 article from BrainPickings.org titled, How Children Learn: Portraits of Classrooms around the World, one gets a glimpse of how learning environments are structured across the globe. The photos shared in this article are just a fraction of the photos that can be found in the full book, however, one will notice a common characteristic in the design of the classrooms. For the most part, students are lined up in rows, sitting at desks, all of which are facing the front of the room, which is presumably where the teacher stands.
This has been the dominant and default design of classrooms for generations. For a number or reasons, this set up has been adopted as the most effective way to engage people in a learning process. But is it?
One of the fascinating things about peace pedagogy is that it challenges us as educators to think differently about how we view learning space and what will foster an environment that is conducive to building community and cultivating peaceable relationships between the students and one another, between the students and the teacher, and between the students and the knowledge.
In the book, The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Design to Transform Teaching and Learning, three design firms teamed up with prominent educators and consulted with students of all ages on how to think creatively about designing better learning environments.
Read chapter 2 of the book, which starts with a quote from the famous developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not just repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers.”
“A tour of today’s schools across the United States, Great Britain, and in fact most of the developed world would find little evidence of Piaget’s philosophy in action. Creativity is ghettoized, restricted to a single period or a couple of shabby rooms. The tools and tactics that encourage the creative thinking that is now, more than ever, so critical to success in higher education and the world at large have yet to be integrated into the standard curriculum or overall design of our schools (OWP/P Architects, VS Furtinure & Bruce Mau Design, 55).”
Reflection Question: What are the two essential design elements and choices you can make in a classroom or learning environment that can foster a sense of community?
- Kohn, Alfie. What to Look for in a Classroom. Educational Leadership, 1996.
- Robinson, Ken. Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity. TED. February, 2006.