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My school, my office

Salim Hussain | 09 Feb 2016 | Comments

As an architect, I am intrigued by the comparisons between the professional workplace and learning environments and how the worker of tomorrow are being trained in the schools of today.

As more economies become knowledge-based, they need to coax more out of workers. Offices are now designed as flexible, creative spaces that allow the next genius to have their light bulb moment be it alone or part of group-think. This is a departure from the historic office, where the staid physical environment reinforced the clock-watching mentality and did not inspire innovation.

If this is the case, then how are schools nurturing the next generation to be creative minds of the future? If tomorrow’s adults grow up in rigid boxes that teach them to think in a particular way, how will they cope when they're thrown into open, cooperative environments? How are the technical and social skills of tomorrow’s worker being developed?

The answer is that school design is also evolving. It has moved forward like workplace design, in recognising the needs of the individual as well as the group. Schools are offering an environment of more personalised learning that accommodates collaboration, group learning as well as individual work, which in turn gives learners greater flexibility about how they choose to learn.

These are flexible, exciting spaces that allow creativity and passion to be nurtured, not spaces where the requisite hours are mundanely completed by students before they go home. This environment, which is activated by the students, is akin to the modern workplace, where corridors are meeting places to allow creativity to flourish through chance encounters.

In the learning environment, technology has revolutionised curriculum delivery. By using tools that children are familiar with, learning becomes a fun and familiar experience. This new technology is also very mobile, unlike PCs, meaning the child does not have to sit in a room with a computer connected to a socket in the wall.

As a result, the cafeteria, the playground, the stairs – all become classrooms. Given this flexibility in the delivery of learning, schools are incorporating these ideas into their layouts. The idea of single-function spaces is being replaced by multi-purpose spaces, where social space becomes the work space.

All this will help to engender positive outcomes for students, to help them become agile, confident, collaborative individuals with empathy for their colleagues, to ensure they can tackle the challenges of the future, which none of us can predict.

This was taken from an article in ME Consultant, to see the full article click here.