Shifting to 21st century education

As 2016 begins, an increasing number of schools are ready to invest in education. While these dollars will be split amongst many categories like technology, additional faculty, innovative programs and new equipment one area that is showing exceptional growth is the rehabilitation and construction of both old and new schools.
Why invest now? The United States education system is antiquated and has run on a foundation set in the 1960s. The traditional teaching and institutional environments are not conducive to 21st century learning and a dynamic shift must take place to give our youth the education they deserve -- and finally these needs seem to have been heard by receptive ears.
There are many principles new schools can use to build a modern environment. Some of these are; 

•    Increased use of natural light whenever possible
•    Varying room sizes for collaborative learning
•    Flexible furniture (and even wall) arrangements
•    Large common areas for socialization
•    Open concept spaces that blend hallways with library, cafeteria and even some classroom areas
•    Real-world technology settings throughout the school
•    Green space surrounding school for student use and outdoor classroom possibilities
•    Interior design that fosters a healthy environment
When rehabilitating an older, traditional setting school many of these principles may not be able to be implemented but, small changes can also have a tremendous impact on the environment. These schools should focus on;

•    Increasing technology where possible or utilizing wireless devices (tablets)
•    Replacing old furniture with new that welcomes team collaboration
•    Consider moving to a STEM (STEAM) education system
•    Allow multi-age learning to take place regularly
•    Enhance landscaping and allow for more outdoor interaction and lessons
•    Refresh the interior design and enhance color opportunities
Common elements for both new and old schools are centered in technology, student collaboration and interior aesthetic.  Studies* suggest that the interior design of the classroom can impact a child's academic progress by as much as 25% over the course of the school year.  As more studies are done, researchers are concluding that color is integral to student wellness, it provides visual stimulation for students and should be a staple in 21st century schools.
The built environment makes a big impact on our quality of life, learning and relationships. As research continues, it is imperative we make the shift from antiquated ideals to a modern, 21st century, vision and there is no better place to start than the schools and learning centers that foster the future of our nation.
Building, Construction and Design Magazine: K-12 schools
How Natural and Built Environments Impact Human Health by Nancy Wells; Cornell University 
Fast Company: Study Shows How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning
* Study conducted by University of Salford in conjunction with Nightingale Associates


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Posted: 2/9/2016 8:42:33 PM by Lea Charnley | with 0 comments