Bringing radical change in the structure of pedagogy is not one person’s job. It requires support and help from all the elements of the organization, from parents to the management, so that the classroom can break off easily from the cycle of monotonous teaching. Each professional teaching needs to spend time improving their learning environment. They need to bring out positive changes, from developing a healthy ecosystem of the classroom to adapting new teaching tools to have a well-rounded impact. As the first step of initiating change, certain areas that will draw the most positive effect in pedagogy need to be assessed. One, which is common among schools all over the world, is the design of the classroom.
When we hear the term ‘classroom’, we instantly imagine a large room with students sitting together on one side, facing the teacher and the black/white-board. However, the real meaning of a classroom is a space where learning takes place. It is widely recognized by teachers globally that the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ style of engaging with the students is not the best way of imparting education. It doesn’t have to follow the structure stated above. Schools all over the world have begun to take the term for what it means and bring changes to the classroom design. These non-traditional classrooms with open space learning are proven to boost productivity and build critical thinking ability within the students.
But what exactly is a non-traditional classroom? How does it look, and what does it entail?
A non- traditional classroom is where the child’s productivity, happiness, engagement, and learning become the center of the entire design. We’ll look at some fantastic schools all over the world which have adopted this mantra to their design and have received startling outcomes.
Vega Schools, Gurgaon: Vega Schools offering kindergarten and nursery education believes in early beginnings. Their vision is to reimagine schools and challenge the status quo, making problem-based learning their mantra. They believe in empowering kids with life lessons so that they become agents of positive change in the future. Vega Schools have replaced traditional classrooms with open learning spaces, individual quiet zones, large spaces for immersive learning, and small hubs for personal assistance. These architectural innovations not only create an optimal learning environment and enable ‘real-life learning’ but also help the learners actively imbibe life skills and facilitate empathy, collaboration, inquiry, confidence, imagination, and creativity. They also assist in minimizing negative behavior, such as bullying.
Naturally Learning (Cornwall, UK): This is a group of nurseries that have effectively built an open classroom school with activities centered around nature and the environment. They follow the ‘Montessori approach’ to learning where the airy and natural environment brings calmness and peace to the children while allowing them to associate with their surroundings.
Fuji Kindergarten (Japan): Fuji Kindergarten is designed with the principle of developing critical thinking and problem-solving ability for the children. They offer an environment filled with challenges suiting children which they have to overcome in their daily routine. They believe that certain things can be taught, but there are a few lessons that can be learned only through experience. So, they challenge the kids to face adversity and overcome them on their own, preparing them for the future.
The Green School, Bali: The school puts child-initiated learning at the center of its environment. It offers a free-flowing atmosphere to allow children to direct themselves to their interests and curiosities. Their wall-less bamboo, open classroom school encourages and nurtures holistic learning, inducing collaboration with students around the world and with nature. This school becomes a model for sustainability and a center for experimentation.
Ørestad Gymnasium, Copenhagen: This school deconstructs the entire idea of a classroom. The building is designed in a manner that enables all learning to happen where everything is visible to everyone. It is designed to facilitate open communication and to inspire each other. This school employs a flexible and innovative use of the learning environment. The building becomes the best aid for the pedagogical innovations that the school aims for.
Liger Learning Centre, Khm: The Liger Learning Centre is situated in the dense jungle of Cambodia. It offers a combination of Cambodian teaching staff as well as international educators who bring the entire world’s worth of knowledge for the children. The children are offered a healthy and comfortable residence in the traditional Khmer style with Khmer caregivers who are elemental in providing a nourishing experience to the children.
If you’re an educator looking to bring some change, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or resources in changing the pedagogical techniques. Listen to the children, assess their requirements, and shed the pressure of following the traditional methods of teaching. Even mixing up the seating arrangement or replacing things not required in your classroom can bring some commendable results.