How seating ergonomics affect learning


John Mathew
Director, Dovetail Furniture Pvt Ltd.

‘Future Learning Environment’ aims to build awareness among Indian educators on the importance of planning for ergonomics, multi-functionality, interactivity, amidst other emerging trends.

In modern times, we’ve come to associate ergonomics with comfort and convenience.Ergonomics for office spaces is something that is always spoken about and given importance to, due to long seating duration and the ill-effects it could have on the health of employees. Similarly, as with classroom furniture, ergonomic furniture must refer to that which is not only comfortable but healthy and functional for students. School children have the most fluctuating body dimensions. But in most elementary schools, children sit at chair-desk combinations which are not suitable for their body height.

As a result of longer periods spent seated, often in furniture that is not ergonomically designed, children have become increasingly physically inactive and are sitting more and more. Conventional chairs have a rigid seat that inclines backwards and merges into a seating hollow, causing lack of blood circulation, rounding of the back, tense shoulder, neck, and back muscles, spinal cord to be pressed to one side and constriction of the digestive organs.

Ergonomically designed furniture allows for comfortable and flexible seating, enabling children to concentrate and learn better. So, it is important for schools to wake up and do what it takes to ensure good ergonomics in classrooms which in turn ensures good health and better learning. Children range wildly in height, size and strength. Classroom seating should promote healthy postures from a young age, especially since young bodies develop rapidly. Children spend long hours in a classroom and having a good posture helps them concentrate well since they are not being distracted by discomfort which can arise due to various factors such as strain and muscle exertion.

Even with furniture designed for ergonomics, proper use requires attention to posture, as well.Seated in the chair, the back should be at a 90-degree angle to the thighs and fully supported by the chair back, both feet should be firmly on the floor, etc. Hence, there is an urgent need to allow for sitting with movement, for which ergonomic designs like Flexi chair – changing seat inclination, rocking mechanism – swivel chair with height adjustment must be suggested for school children. Also it has become a necessary step to provide adjustability in elementary classrooms due to the ranging size of the students.

Furniture must fit the children, allow movement and hence invariably encourage a good posture. Movement plays an important part in seating. A school in which movement is supported and encouraged has a positive effect on the learning ability and attentiveness of the children.

‘Future learning environment’
classroom collection

Nordic desk: The Nordic Desk, as the name suggests, is inspired by Scandinavian design themes. The Nordic table is a premium classroom desk, not only aesthetically well designed, but functional as well; the desk features a laser cut, sheet metal book stand at the front, which can be used by students to read easily, without having to crane their necks downwards for extended durations. In addition to this, the desk also features a sheet metal book storage under the table top a colourful bag hook and a groove carved out of the table top to place pens or pencils, thus eliminating the possibility of items rolling off the desk. All of this allows for better utilisation of space, and thus ensures that the Nordic Desk is more than just a desk.

Spaghetti desk and chair: The Spaghetti Desk and chair features an aesthetically striking design. Each leg of both the chair and the desk are bent from a single pipe, giving the form a flowing feel. The Spaghetti Desk and Chair create a more organised and coherent classroom feel, which can have a positive impact on classroom productivity. Not only is this classroom furniture set a unique looking piece, it is also functional, as it comes with a sheet metal bookstand at the front of the table, enabling students to lean their books instead of having to look down and strain their necks when reading. The table also features a bag hook and a sheet metal storage underneath the table, as well as an optional modesty panel. Overall this pairing is a sensible and stylish option for any classroom!

Shine desk: The Shine Desk is a premium desk that not only looks elegant but is also highly durable. The choice of stainless steel for the frame of the desk makes it completely rust proof, even in humid coastal areas. The desk also features a rounded- post formed MDF table top that prevents students from hurting themselves if they bump into them. The table top is also laminated with a glossy white surface to allow students to doodle or work out problems on the desk itself and erase it easily later. In addition to this, the desk is functional as it comes with a bag hook, storage underneath and a modesty panel. This allows for maximum utilisation of space making the Shine Desk a highly recommended product for schools across the country, especially areas with high humidity.

John Mathew is an alumni from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. He is the Co-Founder and Director of Dovetail Furniture Private Limited, and is also a Dean and head of the Industrial Design Department at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology. John Mathew has over 30 years of experience with design, maufacturing and teaching and is considered a leader in the design field.