Across the world, the educators we’ve been talking to this year have one thing in common.
Throughout this year we’ve had the pleasure of talking to educators all over the world. We’re working with international schools and independent schools across Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as schools of all types here in the UK.
Despite their diversity, these clients are strikingly similar. They all want learning environments that will help them achieve their educational vision and they know that the traditional Dickensian classroom just isn’t up to the job. They might not know exactly what they need, but they’ll have a hunch, some ideas, a sense of direction, and the Spaceoasis and Learniture teams work with them to make it real. Whether it’s part of a major building project or a disused room ripe for reinvention – the first step towards learning spaces fit for a first class 21st century education is a conversation with us.
We make the furniture that enables people to do things differently…
From international and independent schools delivering the IB curriculum, to primary and secondary schools working to local curricula, we work with educators from every walk of learning. Many of them are either convinced that there is a better way to ‘do’ learning environments or have a nagging feeling that chalk and talk just doesn’t cut it anymore. Our clients know that change is needed, and they work with us to make it happen, creating learning environments that enable a fresh approach. They know that today’s learners need agile, adaptable skills for a job that may not even exist yet, so they come to us for environments that help develop those skills. They know that in a classroom there will be a diversity of needs, including neurodiverse children, and that to engage everyone you need to offer autonomy and choice, so they work with us to create learning spaces where everyone can find their place. We make the furniture and design the spaces in which all of this can happen.
Learning environments need to evolve – but how do you change?
So, you know, in your heart of hearts, that traditional learning environments don’t deliver the diverse learning experience that today’s students and teachers need. You know this (as do we), but how do you change it? How do you take an idea that has been drummed into people for nearly 150 years – the Victorian classroom with its omniscient teacher at the front being stared at by rows of seated, static children – and turn it into a democratic, dynamic, nurturing environment where learning becomes a shared endeavour? How do you topple that firmly embedded hierarchy? Especially when everyone has an opinion (“It didn’t do me any harm!”) and people are scared of change because this stuff really matters?
One small step…
If you’re at the beginning of this journey, start slowly and take one step at a time. Aim for evolution rather than revolution because too much too soon can scare the horses. Dip a toe into more progressive environments, and convert the naysayers by bringing them along with you for the ride, building consensus as you go.
Some schools start with a shared area like the library (Aiglon College), that the whole school uses so they can get a feel for agile, multi-functional, zoned environments.
Others take a disused room and seize the opportunity to try a new approach (Holy Cross School, Desborough College, Wimbledeon High School).
Some are compelled to implement an idea that resonates with their conviction that there must be a better way of doing things (Croft Primary School and West Thornton Academy).
For schools that are further along the journey, progressive learning spaces become an integral part of a major projects (Queen Anne’s School, Dulwich College, Berlin Metropolitan School and APEX 2100) where a brand new approach is an integral part of the building. But they too started with one small step.
From the seed of an idea… comes your amazing learning space
So, whether your idea is on the back of a napkin (or envelope, train timetable or even the fabled fag packet), part of a fully costed major capital project, a refresh, or just the desire to try something new, come and talk to us. We’ve created amazing spaces for clients throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, the US and beyond and it always starts with a conversation.