Education Environments that Make Everyone Thrive
The mission of the Future Classroom Lab is to offer all actors in the educational community a place where innovative teaching and learning methods and approaches can be imagined, conceptualised, tested, re-designed and improved. We work on projects and initiatives that invite teachers, policymakers, researchers, and industry partners to exchange experiences and ideas on current and future reform processes, policies and innovative teaching and learning practices. This is the so-called internal aspect of school innovation which centres on the pedagogical approach of the teacher, the pathways to the desired knowledge outcomes and the overall learning journey.
But school innovation has an external dimension as well – the physical classroom environment. As the methods for teaching and learning, the content side of education and the process itself change, can the physical classroom environment remain the same? What adjustments in the physical space are needed to support innovation in education?
Over the years, at the Future Classroom Lab, we have explored different aspects of school design - going from interactive screens to air quality control systems to flexible furniture, creating a physical environment that is supportive of the qualitative change we hope to see in education. This spring, we are exploring the state of classroom acoustics.
In Europe, public education across schools takes place mostly in groups of between 15 and 25 pupils put in a room together with a teacher. Students are invited to participate, to express their opinions, to be curious, to explore, to exchange with their peers – can the physical space support all of the resultant noise and acoustics?
When individuals – be they teachers or students – are exposed to high noise levels for a long period of time this can have numerous negative consequences for their mental and physical health as well as performance. Beyond a certain point, bad classroom acoustics can be damaging and may offset the benefits of more inclusive and student-centred pedagogical approaches. To avoid that, education decision-makers need to stay attentive to this aspect of school design.
This is where the teacher survey “Sound in Schools and its Impact on Learning and Teachers’ Wellbeing” comes in. We are partnering with Saint-Gobain Ecophon, a long-standing Future Classroom Lab partner, to investigate the current state of classroom sound and get a better understanding of what secondary school teachers from across Europe think of the impact classroom and school noise. Is there a need for intervention to prevent health and performance decline in students and teachers, or are the existing physical environments more or less suitable for what forward-looking teachers want to do in them?
European Schoolnet’s mission is to support the transformation of education in Europe for the better and for all. We, therefore, realise that improving the educational experience in an inclusive way requires not only pedagogical changes but often changes in the physical environment.
Share your experience with classroom ambience here in any of the following languages:
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