What is in this article?:
- Mobile Learning
- Movement: a paradigm shift
New approaches to furniture design.
Children are doing less physical activity and sitting more than they did 20 years ago; exploring physical abilities used to be the norm. But societal changes have modified our living conditions—children take part in "adult-initiated" activities; they sit statically, influenced by technology gaming/information; and over-cautious parents often limit a child’s exploratory play. Research shows that suppressed intellectual/physical activity can cause developmental problems, such as lack of coordination, obesity, poor posture, emotional-social delays, depression and attention deficit disorders.
Running, balancing, jumping and swinging are natural movements that help develop behavioral abilities. Mind, body and soul must be engaged for successful learning. Children need dynamic activity for full development.
Having to sit "still" or "up-straight" undermines a child’s desire to move. Rigid or fixed furniture limits the physical/sensory experiences needed for development. Static sitting stresses the body and leads to tired, inattentive and unproductive behavior. Traditional chair-desk combinations often are unsuitable for a child’s body height and ignorant of orthopedic guidelines. Now, a new approach to furniture design is changing the status quo.
The physical environment
Kinesthetic learning and ergonomics connect us to our physical environment. One size doesn’t fit all. Age and grade levels correlate less, especially when students are regrouped for innovative curricula. Schools are a melting pot of multiple-age learners with unique gifts, needs and diversification. The challenge is to provide a stimulating environment that supports healthful development. Space affects teaching and learning experiences; however, during their learning experience, students are in contact most frequently with furniture.
We know that learning spaces must be flexible and adaptable. With regard to furniture, flexibility means quick re-configurability into arrangements for various learning activities, and being ergonomically appropriate for a petite sophomore as well as a senior football lineman. Furniture must adjust, swivel, tilt, rock, reconfigure, move and store. It links a user to the building; it’s what students sit on, work at, eat at, put stuff into, and view displays on; it’s what teachers organize with, access all day, and display with; it’s what visitors see as they develop first impressions. Learning happens any time in any place. Having variety in furniture supports differing learning styles: low-to-high-top tables and desks, stools, adjustable chairs and soft furnishings.
Classrooms, planning centers, breakout spaces and teaming areas serve different learning needs; furniture must support the learning styles that are being used simultaneously in these spaces. The furniture must enable teachers to serve as facilitators in collaborative settings through presentation, discussion, teamwork, project-texting and individual work. A combination of soft seating, work surfaces with chairs, tables and technology (laptops, handheld mobile devices, whiteboards, etc.) turn traditional classrooms into flexible studios. The "front of the room" is anywhere, supported by a mobile unit for the facilitator.