The importance of space for learning


Often, we talk about the new changes we are experiencing in education, such as new methodologies, ways of working and teaching, adapting to the demands of today’s society, and thinking about the future. From early stimulation, multiple intelligences, cooperative learning, to project-based learning (PBL), these changes are transforming the way education is delivered. But how do these changes affect physical space?

The classroom is a crucial component of the teaching and learning environment that requires rethinking, restructuring, and appropriate organization to align with these new methodological and technological demands. We often overlook the importance of the physical space for students. It’s a place where both young and older learners spend most of their day. It’s a space where they interact with others, and over the years, it plays a significant role in shaping them as individuals and preparing them for the future.

The classroom is a valuable tool for learning and is an element to be considered in the development and management of didactic activities. We present below the points that we, as architects of educational spaces, consider most important:

  1. Cozy and Pleasant: The classroom should, above all, be a place of gathering and social interaction where students form their first friendships and learn to live in society. It should be a place where students feel comfortable and at ease. It should provide ample space for learning but also for relaxation, having a snack, or simply picking up a book to read. The classroom should be versatile, flexible, and comfortable.
  2. Functional: The teacher should be able to conduct their activities and programs with the necessary materials and in a suitable environment and with appropriate furniture. While the traditional chalkboard is useful, imagine if all the walls could become writable surfaces. There’s a need for ample space for drawing, areas for hands-on activities, painting, and various forms of expression.
  3. Versatile: Classrooms should be able to adapt to the specific needs at any given moment. Large open spaces for group work or smaller, more private areas for concentration or working in pairs. This can be achieved with movable walls, separate cubicles, or glass enclosures. Bleachers are another recurring element, whether mobile or fixed. They serve not only to create a public speaking area but also to divide space, store items, or provide arbitrary seating, breaking away from the traditional idea of one desk per student.
  4. Unique and Personalized: Each classroom should have its personality and be decorated according to the preferences and activities of the students who use it. It should reflect the experiences and projects of the students.
  5. Stimulating and Dynamic: There’s no reason for the classroom to be a fixed space; quite the opposite, it should be as dynamic as possible. Throughout a school year, students learn and experience many things, and all of this should be reflected in the environment. Maximizing the use of the entire space is crucial: “hanging from the ceiling are the figures from last week’s workshop, there at the door are the rubrics for this week’s activity, and on the right wall are the presentations we did yesterday.” In this regard, the choice of furniture is also crucial because, if selected well, it helps organize and bring dynamism to the classroom.
  6. Connected: There should be constant connection with the surrounding world: the closest, consisting of other classrooms and teachers in the school, and the community, sharing projects with local entities and turning the school into a meeting point. Sharing information and student work with other schools and even other countries can be very enriching. This requires good communication infrastructure and collaboration platforms.
  7. Adapted Furniture: Furniture should be chosen according to the age and activities specific to each class. This is not only for health reasons (back posture, seat comfort) but also to make it versatile and adaptable for each activity, allowing students to come together or work separately as needed. The use of bleachers, light tables, water tables, sand tables, etc., offers more possibilities for dynamic activities such as workshops, theater, or exhibitions.
  8. Nature Connection: If possible, classrooms should be close to natural environments or incorporate plants to enhance well-being and provide learning opportunities. If this is not possible due to being in the city center, some plants can be placed in the classroom, and students can take care of them. In any case, the opportunity to explore other places, go on visits, and discover the world beyond the daily environment should not be missed, as far as possible.
  9. Well-Lit and Good Acoustics: Proper natural and artificial lighting, as well as sound-absorbing materials, should be used to create a comfortable learning environment.
  10. Technological: Digital boards, projectors, and educational platforms are already common in our classrooms. Academic institutions and many major private companies (Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc.) are pushing for technology in the classroom. They all offer innovative solutions based on the cloud that allow for more agile, faster, and more convenient sharing and receiving of content. Additionally, more schools are including subjects such as programming, robotics, or 3D printing in their educational programs. Gradually, we are also seeing quite disruptive innovations such as virtual reality glasses and the inclusion of video games.

Obviously, all of this requires a significant financial investment that not all schools can afford all at once, but it can be done progressively and with the help of grants and subsidies. Teachers must also remain active and constantly seek new ways to implement innovations in the classroom that can be beneficial to their students in the future. Therefore, it requires not only a financial but also a personal effort.

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