The Reggio Emilia approach highlighted the importance of the physical environment on learning and teaching. The incorporation of the physical environment (in Reggio Emilia) to enhance early childhood experiences is seen as the child’s ‘third teacher’.
Stephen Heppell has been working for two decades on raising the status of the ‘third teacher’ within the K-12 sector.
As we move towards greater personalised learning contexts, we also have to think about creating more personalised physical environments.
As Stephen points out, students are integral to the whole design process where users become the designers. Strong student and community voice has been one of the guiding principles underpinning the design of the massive Lindfield ‘School of the Future‘ project in NSW.
The rise of learner-led design is starting to take off.
What’s really interesting is that there is growing research (including Stephen’s) showing how simple improvements to air temperature and light quality etc can make learning better. Warm classroom temperatures have a negative impact on working memory and short-term maths performance!
Research and best practice illustrates that we can no longer evaluate student learning in isolation of evaluating the impact of the third teacher (physical environment).