Creating effective learning spaces!
Director, Swami Vivekanand Public School, Jagadhri -Yamunanagar
Classrooms are now replaced by learning spaces. The purpose of the learning space is to foster engagement and encourage collaboration. In that sense, the classroom design has to be more adaptable in terms of being open to outside area as well.
How can a school help students learn better, become more environment-friendly and have better learning outcomes, shares Vipul Kamboj, Director, Swami VIvekanand Public School, Jagadhri- Yamunanagar.
TPS: Classical models of classroom designs have outlived their purpose. They seem to be only facilitating increased accommodation of pupils in a classroom rather than facilitating effective personal learning. What are the changing trends in classroom designs globally?
Vipul: In our times the word ‘Classroom’ itself has outlived its purpose. Today, we prefer to use the term ‘Learning Spaces’ rather than classroom. The purpose of the learning space is to foster engagement and encourage collaboration. In that sense, the classroom design has to be more adaptable in terms of being open to outside area as well. It consists of moving walls and panels to create different spaces for different skills. An important aspect of classroom design is furniture which should be easily moveable and adjustable so that it can be used for individualized as well as group learning. Every part of the room can be used for some different activity. There is no need to add that the classroom have to be IT enabled since it is an established truth now. At the most fundamental level, we are trying to give them freedom to foster creativity but with self-discipline.
Classroom design should fulfill the following purpose:
Freedom + mobility giving rise to creativity under the domain of self-discipline.
TPS: Efforts have been made by certain architects to design bio-friendly schools by integrating plants both inside and outside classrooms and through effective water flow management. Do you think such attempts are exclusive or do you think such concepts can be enlarged to the benefit of others. How some cost-effective efforts can be integrated in the school design and architecture?
Vipul: There is no denying the fact that environmental damage is the biggest problem that our planet is facing today. In this context any step taken towards designing bio-friendly schools and integrating plants inside and outside the classrooms is a welcome step. These attempts are not exclusive rather inclusive and should be the part of our consciousness. We have to make conscious efforts to make our students environmental friendly if we have to give them a green and happy future. Cost effective methods start from effective education and implementation. Following are a few examples:
- Every classroom should have their own flower pots with the name of their students. Students should be taught how to nurture them.
- During meal timings, wastage of food should be avoided. The wasted food should be collected by an NGO and given to the needy.
- Instead of assemblies for two months, every class should have gardening lessons in the green house. Every school must have a green house.
- School should have a rain water harvesting system.
- Solar panels are already a must in school now.
- School should have organic vegetables gardens.
- Entire school walls and corridors could have out of waste developed plastic pots. They could be maintained floor wise.
TPS: While mobility in a classroom is indeed a basic health requisite, it is also claimed that it promotes more distraction. In a changed environment where multi-layer learning and blended learning are being promoted, how classroom designs could help in empowering such ideas?
VIpul: Mobility in classrooms is a symbol of independence. Independence is the goal of every human being. So mobility helps the students in achieving independence which ultimately helps the students in achieving his/her highest potential. Classroom designs can help empower the idea of mobility by using more flexible furniture. By making the classroom more integrated with the open spaces,it can usher an attitude of collaborative work as well.
The distraction part of the mobility can be offset by the skills of the teacher. It can be done through the involvement and intensity (energy level) of the teacher.
TPS: Do you think the air-conditioned classrooms are really supporting attributes to effective learning? How do they be in some way health hazards for the young ones? And what precautions the schools should take to ensure their safe operating environment?
Vipul: In my opinion air-conditioned classrooms may to some less extent support effective learning.
But in their larger context, they destroy healthy living. Its disadvantages are far more than the advantages.
- In sub-tropical country like India, air conditioning has contributed to the weakening of bones of the kids and adults.
- Secondly, with the overall view of living as close to the nature as possible, the air conditioning does not help. It creates more artificial and controlled environment.
- Thirdly, it leads to the weakening of immunity system of the kids.
- Fourthly, it makes the kids lethargic and less interested to play outside since they get comfortable in controlled environment.
- Fifthly, it diminishes our stamina and reduces our energy and physical activity level.
Vipul Kamboj, Director, Swami Vivekanand Public School, has a Graduation in Physics (Honours) from Hindu College (Delhi University) and Post Graduation from Delhi School of Economics (Delhi University). A young and dynamic personality, his interests are in the field of pedagogy and curriculum development. He aims to be an educationist and is passionate about how schools shape the personality and life of children.