Imagine the environment we create for today’s learners and think about how much the world has changed in the last decades and how it continues to embrace change every day.
The question then is how do we ensure that the instruction we provide is responsive to the shifting demands of the 21st century since the environment is the context in which learning takes place and where the ideas, values, attitudes, and cultures of children are mirrored
The 21st century teacher is thus expected to pay attention to his environment to make sure that his beliefs and values about children and learning are represented in the space. This is because a classroom that is functioning successfully as a third teacher will be responsive to the children interests and also provide opportunities to make their thinking visible and flexible.
In order to act as an educator for the child, the environment has to be flexible: It must undergo frequent modification by the children and the teachers in order to remain up to date and responsive to their needs to be protagonists in constructing their knowledge. All the things that surround people in the school and which they can use — the objects, the materials, and the structures — are not seen as passive elements, but on the contrary, are seen as elements that condition and are conditioned by the actions of the children and adults who are active in it.” (Edwards, Gandini, and Foreman, 1998)
THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT IS NEVER SIMPLY A BACKDROP TO THE CURRICULUM; IT IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE CURRICULUM. AN ENVIRONMENT WITH RICH AND BUILT-IN LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES ALSO FREES EDUCATORS TO INTERACT WITH CHILDREN.
We need to put into consideration that the Children are consistently learning regardless of the involvement of an adult/teacher or their peers. Even when a child is alone they are learning. With this in mind, consideration of the environment should be taken into consideration when plaining the curriculum.
I know that some teachers sometimes struggle with the ability to create this learning space. It is difficult (but not impossible) to provide experiential learning in a classroom designed for children.
I do believe that there are ways to support spaces that invite investigation, imagination, deep thinking, creativity, problem solving, meaning making and to make it AESTHETICALLY PLEASING, to reflect the identity and culture of the children. One way to do it, according to Ontario’s early years’ pedagogy, is to use complex open-ended materials that children can use in many ways. Another term to describe complex open-ended materials is loose parts!
Apart from this the Learning environments engage and foster a sense of ownership and respect when they are AESTHETICALLY PLEASING, reflect the identity and culture of children and the community.
We need to think about creating classroom environment that give children the opportunity for wonder, mystery and discovery; an environment that speaks to young children inherent curiosity and innate learning for exploration in a classroom where children are passionate about learning and love for school.
THE THREE TEACHERS OF A CHILD
The other children
The physical environment
THIS APPROACH IS BOTH AN ART AND SCIENCE TO DESIGN WHICH AIMS IS TO MAKE THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT THAT RESPONDS TO OUR ULTIMATE GOALS AS EDUCATORS.
Much care is taken into consideration preparing this environment because it acts as a third teacher
This approach is influenced by the Reggio Emilia. For those inspired to learn more about the Reggio Emilia Approach I highly recommend this website
Reggio Emilia educational approach and philosophy insists that children learn readily from their environment, and therfore the environment is their ‘third’ teacher.
SO TO FINISH THIS LECTURE I WILL LIKE TO STATE HOW YOU CAN CREATE THIS THIRD TEACHER
EVERYONE CAN BE A DESIGNER/ARTIST
Look to many sources for design inspiration. Teachers and students, as well as architects and designers, have ideas about their ideal learning environment.
DO NO HARM
Adopt this as an oath and a fundamental approach to children’s learning environments.
CHERISH CHILDREN’S SPACES
It’s a natural impulse to nurture our young – let that impulse extend to the places where young people learn.
PUT SAFETY BEFORE STUDY
Children are ready to learn only when they’re safe and secure, so address those needs before considering any other aspect of a child’s environment.
When identifying hazards in the learning environment, remember that children are more physically vulnerable than adults.
ASSIGN THE SOLUTION
Make health and safety a classroom project and develop lesson plans that will produce real improvements to the learning environment.
MAKE JANITORS GUARDIANS SCHOOL CUSTODIANS AND CARETAKERS PLAY A VITAL ROLE IN PROTECTING STUDENT HEALTH. Respect that role by providing cleaning staff with the best available training, technology, and supplies.
DESIGN FOR SPEECH AND HEARING
Using sound-absorbent materials in classrooms is a simple and effective way to ensure that teachers can focus on teaching, not repeating.
LET THE SUNSHINE IN
And the gray skies too: Increasing daylight in classrooms has been shown to cut down on absenteeism and improve test scores.
SHUFFLE THE DECK
Change up the locations of regular activities so children can explore new surroundings with their bodies and their minds.
MAKE IT NEW
Look at your learning space with 21st-century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past?
ADMINTRATORS SHOULD SUPPORT GREAT TEACHERS
Free teachers from the traditional desk at the front of the classroom and encourage new settings for teaching and learning.
BUILD NEURAL NETWORKS
Spark cognitive development by providing students of all ages with places to test new skills.
Allow students time and space to choose what they want to do–their choices will illuminate their individual strengths.
Posting student work, both current and past, up on the walls tracks progress in a visible way.
An environment rich in evocative objects – whether it’s a classroom or a museum – triggers active learning by letting students pick what to engage with.
UNITE THE DISCIPLINES
Art and science need each other. Discoveries – great and small – happen when the two come together; so give students places for cross-disciplinary work, and who knows what creative genius will flourish.
BRING THE OUTSIDE IN
Transport the community, the landscape, and faraway places into the classroom with visuals and objects that call them to mind.
DECIDE ON DYNAMIC
When classroom chairs wear out, invest in new ones that absorb rather than restrict the movements of growing bodies.
SWIVEL TO ATTENTION
Give students furniture that lets them twist and lean safely. The movement will increase their ability to concentrate.
MAKE CLASSROOMS AGILE
A learning space that can be reconfigured on a dime will engage different kinds of learners and teachers.
RESPECT FITNESS FACILITIES
Make them attractive and visible to reinforce the connection between physical activity and overall well-being.
TAKE THE “GROUND” OUT OF “PLAYGROUND”
Who said playgrounds had to be at ground level? Locate play space anywhere and everywhere, from rooftop terraces to indoor atriums.
PROMOTE HEALTHY PLAY
Consider playgrounds a free place for children to burn calories as well as build motor skills.
NATURALIZE PLAY SPACES
Kids don’t need much to engage their imaginations. Allowing grass and leafy plants to flourish in play spaces will provide endless opportunities for play and discovery.
LET YOUR GRASSROOTS SHOW
To rally support for a new school, establish a visible presence for the campaign in your community.
BUILD FOR CHANGE
School buildings can be tools for social change, and history’s the proof. Take courage and inspiration from what’s been done before.
34 IMAGINE LIKE A CHILD
Visualize a proposed school from a student’s perspective – the poignancy of that point of view may help transform a proposal into a built project.
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES
A new school will be realized faster if parents pitch in to make it happen.
38 MAKE THEM PROUD
The rich cultural traditions of a school’s students offer design opportunities. Embracing them is a mark of respect that tells students that where they come from matters as much as where they’re going to.
BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
A great school gives its neighbors a park to hang out in, a goal to aspire to, a building to be proud of, and a standard to maintain.
GROW YOUR OWN
Growing and preparing fruit and vegetables on school grounds educates children’s senses of taste, touch, and smell.
RIGGER THE SENSES
Sound, smell, taste, touch, and movement power memory. An environment rich in sensory experiences helps students retain and retrieve what they learn.
THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT SHOULD STIMULATE THE FIVE SENSES
Your classroom should accommodate some certain objects from sight, touch, smell, taste and sound because the senses play a large role in children’s development, and that a carefully designed environment support children’s exploration through their senses.
DESIGN IN MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS
Evaluate ideas, features, and materials for the learning environment on their sensitivity to color, light, and texture.
PAINT BY FUNCTION
Determine what each space in a school is used for, then specify a paint color that supports the mood of the space.
DEFINE THE LEARNING LANDSCAPE
A child’s world expands as he develops. Keep pace by providing environmental experiences that are developmentally appropriate.
OPEN THE DOORS
Give students places to exhibit their work as if it were in a public gallery, then invite the public to come and have a look.
PUT THE FUN IN
fundamentals Injecting a learning space with playfulness and humor creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
DESIGN WITH WORDS
What you say influences what you think and what you do. Use the term universal design, rather than accessible design, as a reminder of what it’s all about: creating an environment for all learners.
The brightest way to arrive at inventive solutions for a pluralistic learning environment is to build diversity into the design team.
GET ACCESSIBILITY AWARE
There’s more to accessibility than meets the eye. Making a learning environment truly inclusive means designing from multiple developmental perspectives.
BREAKDOWN SOCIAL BARRIERS
The process, as well as the outcome, of building an accessible playground can bridge all sorts of community divides.
67 MAKE IT FEEL GOOD
Schools that are engaging, vibrant, great places to be foster a sense of belonging that’s important for all kids, especially those at risk.
Equipping learning spaces with domestic features such as kitchens, pantries, and cupboards can help make a school feel like a home.
CREATE A MOVEMENT
Engage in meaningful conversations about changing the education landscape. Parents, teachers, students, principals, community members, and politicians are all important and powerful stakeholders in this movement.
CONSULT WITH KIDS
Survey students about what they would like to study, then design spaces that let them learn what they want to learn.
PUT THEORY INTO PRACTICE
Give students space – studios, workshops, and laboratories – where they can test ideas for practical applications.
Make sure a classroom has the capacity to link into learning opportunities beyond its four walls even beyond the Earth itself.
ENVIRONMENT SHOULD BE AESTHETICALLY PLEASING
Aesthetics are a vital facet of the outward and it plays a major role in environmental design. According to Elliot Eisner “An aesthetically pleasing learning environment is one that recognizes, engages and embraces the imagination as a source of content.