Creativity over conformity

Creativity over conformity

Effective: The classroom ambience influences the pace of learning.

Students spend most of their day in classrooms. So, it is important to reimagine the space and redesign the environment to make it an inspirational and a creative space for them. Modern classrooms should be designed in keeping with the interests of students. There should be a focus on creating open and flexible spaces where they gather to collaborate, build and share their knowledge. Nowadays, schools have realised the importance of the classroom space and its contribution to the overall learning process of students. Though the idea of flexible classrooms is from the West, India has been quick to adapt to the concept. Its popularity in K-12 schools across the metropolitan cities of the country is evident with many schools adopting various types of flexible classrooms.

The passive learning experience of ‘stand and instruct’ classroom mindset experience is losing its relevance. This is because of the new pedagogies and the advancement in technology. The idea of stereotypical ‘traditional classroom’ is very limiting in today’s environment. The needs of the present-day students are different. There is more stress on interactive learning. So, there is a need to replace the traditional classroom with a learning space that inspires, ignites a spark of curiosity and incites imagination in students. Schools should begin to reconsider how technology, space and pedagogy can be combined to create the most effective teaching-learning space.   

Optimising space

Schools need to focus on optimising the classroom space. New schools should construct a suitable layout for each classroom as the overall design influences the engagement, interaction and concentration of students, thereby improving retention. On another note, an optimised classroom space contributes to students’ academic success as it decreases fidgeting and helps them focus on their tasks or on the teacher’s instruction.

The space of a classroom, its furniture, the colour of its walls, windows and the amount of light not only influence students’ learning but also the pace of learning. In recent years, schools have been developing learning studios. These spaces make students feel protected, comfortable and focused on the learning outcomes. 

There is a need to design spaces where students can connect and collaborate. So, a classroom layout should be planned in keeping with the important elements that make an ideal classroom. Every class has different needs. Hence, it should be planned accordingly. It should consider the choice of furniture, audio and visual aid, projectors, blackboards, small art installations and crafts created by students, as per the requirement of the classroom. It is the teachers’ responsibility to designate the right place for the resources in a classroom.

Flexible classroom

Nowadays, schools emphasise on open spaces which connect to hallways so that students can move between class activities and outdoor activities. Educators are constantly looking for spaces and are optimising them for learning. Corridors are now used for various hands-on activities; walls are used to display art created by students and television screens are installed both inside and outside classrooms. They also feature mini libraries, which can be turned into maker spaces and makeshift theatres. Schools are replacing the standard desks with portable furniture — a mainstay in modern schools. Other additions in flexible classrooms include exercise balls, yoga mats, sofas and toys. With such a potential for optimisation, classrooms should be designed to meet the daily requirements of educators, with a provision to modify the space to suit a variety of instructional styles.  

Children are often restless. They tend to fidget and move spontaneously. Hence, the seating arrangement should provide adequate space for the fluid movement of students. Research suggests that movement has a tremendous influence on the growing minds of young learners.

Flexible classrooms look and feel different from traditional classrooms. Desks can be replaced with a wide variety of learning spaces where students can stand, sit, recline and collaborate. During class hours, they can move around in the classroom, change their seat and select the place of their choice. These factors motivate students to take a greater ownership of their learning and participate in the learning process with heightened intensity.

Today, technology has permeated the classroom. So, it is important that they have requisite ports, power outlets and terminals which can connect computers, screens, projectors and other audio-visual equipment easily. Classrooms can be seamlessly connected to intranets and the internet to allow students to browse academic content and educational videos. The integration of technology decreases the burden on teachers, as students can self-learn or collaborate with their classmates.

The education sector is discovering the benefits of flexible learning spaces that foster active, collaborative and engaged learning. There are great opportunities ahead to maximise learning outcomes for students and create meaningful experiences by rethinking the holistic classroom experience.

(The author is co-founder, Next Education India)