My son’s imagination failed him recently. Pen poised over a blank sheet of white paper to plan a short story, he found nothing forthcoming. He blamed it on the classroom: ‘it’s like sitting in a grey box’ he explained, ‘ sometimes, the ideas just won’t come’. This left me thinking about good classroom design and how with a little more thought, grey boxes could be transformed into Imagination Stations, enabling children to think more creatively and be more brilliant. As Einstein once declared: ‘logic will get you from A to B, imagination will take you everywhere‘.
Logically a classroom needs 4 walls and a ceiling, tables and chairs and a method of conveying information but if we are more imaginative in classroom design, we can provide a springboard for children to learn more productively.
Recent studies have demonstrated that great office design is key to employee satisfaction and improved productivity, so why not take transfer those learnings into the classroom to help create happier students with great imaginations.
Think daylight, dynamic light and refracted light. Consider different lighting setups for different times of day/year, coloured or dimmable lighting for teaching situations but above all, banish strip lighting, which can cause headaches, eye strain and eye fatigue.
Classroom Space Planning
Consider the arrangement of desks in a classroom, employing different arrangements for different lesson structures. Collaboration may be good sometimes while at other times space to quietly reflect may be more appropriate. Having space to roam, interact, relax and think are all important classroom design considerations. Allowing students to move around can also help channel their energies and allow them focus.
Classroom Colour Schemes
Inspiring colours may not necessarily be primary colours. Great for primary schools maybe, but think about harmonious colour combinations in natural hues, which promote calm. Restorative environments that allow children space to think can also help stimulate their imaginations.
Multi Sensory Classrooms
Multi sensory learning environments tend to improve memory and recall. Imagine listening to dramatized Shakespeare on headphones while sitting on comfy beanbags in the school library. Much more memorable than sitting at uniformly arranged desks in the classroom taking it in turns to read out loud. Textures, spaces, and use of a variety of media can all enhance learning.
If sitting down is killing us then why do we insist that children sit still at desks for much of the day? As adults we get up and walk around, stretch our legs and this helps us to get back to the task in hand. Children in schools have sitting imposed upon them and usually at chairs and desks that are not aiding good posture. Surely the best learning environment is one where there are different options for different children dependent on their learning style. There are many innovative furniture solutions from posture enhancing stools to standing desks with a fidget bar. Why not design future classrooms incorporating these innovative designs? Good classroom design doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive, it just takes a little imagination!
Nature and the Classroom
Consider allowing the outside inside. Not only will levels of CO2 in the classroom be reduced (resulting in more alert students mid afternoon) but having a living wall in your classroom may be a source of inspiration in Geography, Biology or English. Outdoor lessons may also stimulate creativity and improve recall.
A student’s ability to hear (and understand) what is being taught is vital for learning. A noisy classroom may hinder productive thinking and the development of ideas. Having consideration for the surfaces in a classroom, including walls, floors and furniture may lead to a more receptive learning environment and more imaginative children.
For more inspirational design ideas on what makes good classroom design check out our Pinterest board. And please do get in touch if you would like to discuss ideas to make your classroom more inspiring & creative: