School & District Management

Teacher: Outdated Classroom Designs Hinder Learning

By Anthony Rebora — December 02, 2013 1 min read
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In The Huffington Post, Austin, Texas, elementary school teacher Emily E. Smith argues that classroom-design conventions are in need of a serious upgrade. She explains how, to create a more creative space for learning, she reconfigured her own classroom based on photos of successful tech-startup offices. Conference tables, stools, and area rugs have replaced the rows of desks. Gone, too, are the motivational posters and the textbooks, having made way for flashing tablets and PCs.

Smith’s rationale:

Children thrive just as adults do: creative spaces spark creative thinking. The age-old concept of the classroom is significantly behind what our modern world expects college graduates to be capable of. Everything from communication and partnerships to brainstorming and developing is stifled within the confines of separate desks, cheesy posters, and flat textbooks. It's time for the world of education to not only redefine the curriculum placed in the hands of America's teachers, but also to redefine the classrooms in which we breed young scholars.

She may be on to something. A number of high shools have begun experimenting with new classroom-design concepts—including, for example, breakaway learning studios and comfy collaborative spaces—to facilitate blended-learning arrangements. A recent study out of the United Kingdom, meanwhile, found that classroom-design elements can in fact have a significant effect on student achievement.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.