Improve learning with agile spaces

What can agile spaces offer our classrooms to improve concentration and learning outcomes?

A child’s ability to learn is affected by a number of factors – it is more than just the school, the curriculum and test results. A child’s ability to learn is also dependent on their body, diet, family life, security, teacher, peers, environment and many other factors.

Children today have the ability to change the world as they grow into adults – yet the classroom structure has not changed in a hundred years. Even with greater knowledge of neurodiversity – there is an expectation for children to sit behind desks, face forward and listen to the teacher.

In this blog we explore the Third Teacher, created by an international team of architects and designers – OWP/P Architects + VS Furniture and Bruce Mau Design, as well as Bodies in Motion, Brains in Motion, Dr. Dieter Breithecker, German Health and Kinetics Scientist.

What we can learn from their teachings; in particular focusing on how agile spaces can benefit the learning environment and the often-overlooked link between how we learn and where we learn.

Traditional classroom spaces, fashioned by the Victorians, were designed to produce “obedient specialists” – adults ready to join the factory lines, assembling components or as domestic servants. These were not workers that were encouraged to think for themselves. In contrast, today the career paths our children will take are no longer limited to the factories or servitude, they are training for roles that do not even exist yet. So, providing an environment that stimulates individuality of thought and expression is vital. An agile space which can change and adapt to daily lessons can increase engagement and individual creativity.

Allowing spaces for movement in a classroom allows students to develop new skills and concentrate on tasks. It also reinforces the connection between physical activity and overall well-being. Touch is important to learning; children of all ages need places where they can learn by touching, manipulating, and making things with their hands. This can also feed into learning with all senses – sound, smell, taste, touch and movement work together to power memory, helping students retain, understand and question knowledge.

Research has shown the interconnection between moving and brain activity invalidates the  commonly held notion that moving is somehow counterproductive to paying attention.

A student leaning back, fidgeting or tilting her/his chair is generally exhibiting healthy active behaviour – not hyperactivity. This behaviour is the body’s way of supporting the brain. For students to be appropriately engaged, both physical and mental states need to be focused on working together.  Physical movement increases oxygen supply and is essential for stimulating cognition. When students are physically engaged, specific hormones are  released that have a positive influence on brain activity. As a result, attention span grows longer, and the ability to concentrate improves.

Research has shown that giving students increased opportunities to move while seated (i.e., rocking or swivelling) triggers increased levels of attention and concentration during test taking (green). The control group, which remained in a rigid seating position, is shown in red.

Furniture which gives students the ability to fulfil their movement needs and supports this through allowing a range of natural movements can increase concentration and engagement.

When upgrading classroom furniture, speak to Edushift’s agile spaces experts to design a learning environment that is dynamic and engaging.

Edushift can supply quality and durable furniture from VS Vereinigte Spezialmöbelfabriken, ergonomically designed to be flexible, allow for movement and support the development and growth of a child’s body.

We can advise on different configurations to make the most out of your classroom space and offer solutions targeted at helping every child thrive.

Further reading