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Learning Environments: How to Boost Performance in Schools by Using Spaces Creatively?

The Newspaper made a recent article about a book called School Leadership and the Creation of Productive Learning Spaces in Schools, written by Prof Aslam Fataar from the Department of Education Policy Studies at Stellenbosch University and Dr Johann Burger, District Manager for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). Burger emphasizes how the creative use of spaces in schools can improve a student's performance and also promote their emotional well being.

“The book shows how two principals of diverse schools – one in an urban working class area and the other in a rural middle class area – apply unique leadership and the use of specific spaces in schools to create excellent learning environments that inspire and motivate their learners and teachers to excel in what they do”.

In both schools there were different changes that were applied, for example, the principles of each school incorporate “physical, emotional and social spaces” by using different elements like colour, sound, maps, artworks, light and diagrams in the learning environment. Each one of the new projects looks to promote socialization and relaxation.

“According to the authors, the book shows how limited resources and spaces in schools can be utilised to create learning environments that foster relationships between teachers and learners based on respect, compassion and educational dignity. Furthermore, it provides insight into the possibility of innovative and inspiring leadership in the creation of educational spaces. The authors believe that newly created and productive learning spaces will have a positive influence on learners and say that this will inspire and excite them about going to school”.

At MKThink we are also looking at how learning environments can adapt to our evolving needs over time and how those spaces are designed considering factors such as wellbeing and safety. At Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, CA, we re organized the entire campus plan to be centered around "making and creativity" with a Maker's HUB, amphitheater and outdoor exploration area located at the center of the school. These spaces signal to students the importance leadership and faculty have places on these activities. What ideas do you have for your spaces?


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