How Furniture Is Supporting Today’s Education Process
When it comes to designing K-12 schools, the furniture is another layer of the building itself that enables teachers to be successful. Furniture allows architects and educators to create leading-edge education spaces that are flexible and technology rich in which the furniture supports the learning environment. Giving furniture the thoughtful consideration it deserves is best done by considering a school’s different activities.
The classroom: Today’s collaborative classroom environments call for movable and flexible furniture pieces that support group and independent work. Chairs with flexible backs are ideal for allowing students to move within their chairs, enabling them to become more engaged and pay greater attention to the task at hand. These lightweight chairs also enable students and educators to easily reconfigure their space throughout the day. With this amount of flexibility and movement within a classroom, now any wall can become a teaching wall that can change every day or every hour, depending on the activities and educator’s desires.
Another way in which furniture is supporting today’s learning environment is that casework, which used to be built in and therefore fixed, is now also becoming movable. A bookcase on wheels allows teachers the flexibility to change the room to fit the lesson or activity. Similarly, room dividers, markerboards and tall cabinets can all be mounted on wheels to create small group learning spaces within the classroom.
Neighborhood spaces: Students are drawn to neighborhood areas where informal learning occurs, so more breakout spaces are being added throughout schools and furnished with a variety of soft seating. A simple breakout space with a variety of bar-height round and low tables creates more of a Starbucks feel. Both kinds of tables allow for either individual or group work, yet having options empowers students by letting them choose their environment.
Technology spaces: Just like classrooms, today’s technology spaces are designed for interaction and collaboration. Gone are the static computer labs with rows of tables and monitors, and instead technology is flexible, movable and adaptable. Furniture now includes tables and chairs on wheels where students can gather with laptops and connect to mounted televisions. Each student’s work can be presented to the entire group for interactive peer to peer learning, as opposed to the teacher doing all the instruction, thereby creating more collaborative and interactive engagement.
Variety, flexibility and movability are the key words in thoughtfully choosing furniture to support today’s collaborative learning environments.