One of Arizona’s newest public district schools is getting some international press for their innovative structural and interior design to their high school furniture, created in order to improve student performance by fostering engagement, collaboration and creativity.
Educators, researchers, policymakers and architects from countries across the world gathered early in October to talk about the effects of good design on education at Canyon View High School in Waddell, AZ, a school that recently opened on Aug. 6, 2018, designed around that idea. The symposium, which lasted for 2 days, was handled by The Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change project based in The University of Melbourne, in the AU.
Canyon View Principal Phil Nowlin says that they took a look at the activities that they know define what’s good teaching and learning, and tried to reflect and incorporate those in the development of their learning spaces.
Education Designer and member of The American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education Dina Sorenson, DLR Group, says that there’s already a lot of research about what conditions are optimal for children and adolescents to develop and learn, but not really a lot of it is applied in their field. There is no doubt that the built environment, from the high school furniture to the wallpaper, affects people, rather how much it affects them.
Outside the school, stair step seating allows for classes to be held in gathering spaces between buildings, as well as benches in campfire-style rings along the xeriscape habitat that spans the campus’s lenght.
The learning environments inside the schools are flexible, separated by glass walls, which take the place of conventional classrooms. Even the high school furniture has been given a new spins; as not all chairs have desks, nor do all desks have chairs, some are for standing behind, which some students actually prefer.
The furniture in the school is light and mobile, allowing teachers and students to move the stuff in order to quickly and easily create spaces that match their needs for learning whenever they want.
Teachers have teacher centres so they can carry out their other tasks, one in each building, which have computer workstations, personal lockers, a shared worktable, and even lunchroom amenities and two sound-proof booths, the latter for making calls to parents.
Principal Nowlin says that these environments let teachers deliver lessons in a variety of ways, mixing it up so that students remain constantly engaged.