Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
Have you noticed? While there is little doubt that classrooms have become more sophisticated and digital, the physical classroom furniture and their settings don’t seem to have evolved at the same pace.
The tablets and devices that are transforming the learning process still sit on top of the same style desks from the 1950s. The blackboards and chalk may have been replaced by interactive whiteboards connected to a computer or projector, but far too often, students still sit in stagnant rows looking up in the same direction at the teacher for the daily lesson.
While curriculum modernization creates opportunities for teachers and students to use the classroom space more effectively, traditional classroom furniture does not. In order for the classroom to truly evolve, teachers, principals and district administrators need to address the entire classroom environment.
Today’s sedentary lifestyles are impacting the health and academic performance of students. Slashed school budgets and increased pressure around standardised tests are reducing physical education and break times, while technology at home and in the classroom is keeping students static and increasing screen time throughout the day. The collision of these two troubling trends is greatly influencing students’ lack of movement. There is an ongoing debate around the impact of digital technology and sedentary lifestyles on students’ cognitive abilities, attention spans and ability to persevere in the face of challenging tasks.
In addition, approximately 3-5% of British school children (that’s about one child in every classroom) have been diagnosed with ADHD, making concentrating in class more challenging than ever
Consider this about classroom furniture:
Classroom furniture at the most foundational level should enhance the educational tools and technology it’s supporting. At an aspirational level, it should also support the teachers’ curriculum, the students’ health, comfort and learning styles. This requires a fundamental change in thinking as schools adopt 1:1 technology, requiring analysis of what else is changing in association with the technology.
Facilitating the move from traditional lectures to more group-based, collaborative and active environments requires adjustable and highly mobile furniture for both students and teachers. Stationary desks do not lend themselves to an active classroom nor do they facilitate a group-dynamic or mobile learning environment that has become so prevalent in today’s educational system.
A desk that is both height-adjustable and mobile will foster an individualized learning environment that addresses these issues and offers a myriad of benefits to teachers, students and the school.
Why adjustable desks?
Access to adjustable furniture has been proven to help reduce fidgeting distractions, give teachers more time to teach, increase student engagement, improve academic performance and enliven curriculum. In addition, the rising concerns about childhood health issues are addressed when students are given an alternative to sitting all day—introducing standing into the classroom is an effective means to break up sedentary behaviour. We’ve seen this played out many times in our studies in both the UK and further afield.
Input from surveys, interviews and case studies have all demonstrated that teachers prefer desks that facilitate movement and that students adapt to them intuitively. These types of desks foster collaborative learning while satisfying a child’s need for motion and allow for the teacher to use every inch of the environment for instruction.
Given today’s intersection of technology and education, the classroom set-up is at a crossroads. It is time to “stand up” for important and fundamental changes for today’s classroom and the classroom of the future.
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