One of the main focuses of our lessons here in Galway has been creativity. How do we encourage it? Foster it? Inspire it? In the words of Punya Mishra, “Creativity cannot be taught” (Mishra, 2013). Creativity is inherently in us, and must be drawn out and called to attention in some way shape or form. One way schools can accomplish this is through intelligent design of the learning space.
In her article What Schools Can Learn from Google, IDEO, and PIXAR, author Melanie Kahl explains that creativity-based companies are innovating not only their fields of trade, but the offices they do it in. With wide open spaces intended for collaboration and fostering creativity, these work spaces are inspiring schools to rethink their own designs. Many schools across America are turning to open concept design and raw spaces to enable students to be creative and fill it with whatever they want it to be. So long to stuffy, dark classrooms and rooms designated for one purpose. Schools, teachers, designers, and students work together to make their learning space what they want it be (including the ability to change it in the future) (Kahl, 2011).
One of our classroom activities was to rethink and redesign our own classrooms. At first I thought about this assignment within the actual parameters of where I teach. I don’t have my own classroom, and I share a small office with 6 other teachers. The students remain in one crowded room all day and the teachers rotate from lesson to lesson. The only lessons the students switch classrooms for are PE, art, music, and computer. Our school has only one computer lab, and with the addition of one-to-one iPads next year, finding space for charging stations will be a challenge.
However, thinking about trying to remake my actual teaching space sounded to confining. So I began to imagine my dream classroom. I drew a floor plan of my imaginings.
Hey…I never claimed to be an artist.
But I am quite proud of my ideal classroom.
It’s a very large space, with a curvy glass wall separating the room. One side of the room is the classroom, complete with a SmartBoard, and iPad charging station, and lots of storage. I made sure to include big windows and a bulletin board for displaying students’ work. On the other side of the glass is the computer lab. There are 10 desktops and a printer. I also put my desk in this space, because, hey, I have to get some work done at some point. There is another bulletin board in here, more windows, as well as some comfy chairs for students to sit on while working.
I imagine this space being very open and airy, with lots of bright colors, pictures, things hanging from the ceiling, and maybe even some plants. I don’t think it feels like a typical “classroom” but can still function as such when need be. It’s a space where students can have some freedom, space, and work time (either collaborative or alone). I would love to have a classroom like this as a teacher, as well as a student.
Kahl, M. (2011, November 22). What schools can learn from google, IDEO, and pixar. The Creativity Post. Retrieved July 5, 2013, from http://www.creativitypost.com/education/what_schools_can_learn_from_google_ideo_and_pixar
Mishra, P. (Director) (2013, July 8). Creativity and NEW Ideas. MAET Overseas Cohort Year One. Lecture conducted from Michigan State University, Galway.