By Jolene Levin, Director of educational furniture company NorvaNivel and mother of four
Have you ever dreamed as a parent of being a fly on the wall? Seeing your children learning and interacting with their educators and peers? As a mother of four, this has always intrigued me.
And what do you know, this unprecedented state of the world has allowed us to observe this ultimate experiment before our very eyes.
It’s a fascinating thought while you watch your kids learning at home.
We now have the unique opportunity to leave the physical traditional classroom, and to finally understand that learning can and will absolutely take place anywhere and everywhere.
We no longer have the luxury to choose how we structure our day and space within the school environment. Each child now has to determine for themselves how best to design their domestic space to suit the virtual lessons they’re logging into. The whole discussion around learning space design has the opportunity to meaningfully shift, or in fact, completely change its trajectory.
We’re witnessing choice and equity in action
Moving from traditional educational settings that promote equality, or rather uniformity, to more advanced settings that recognize choice and equity as essential to engaged learning it is now evident more than ever!
I’m already a convert, but I’m personally witnessing four very different responses to daily learning routines in my house!
My eldest daughter, Tannah, works at the same desk each day. For her, the safety of the routine is what makes her most productive.
My son MAX, shifts between his room and our living room, using his bed as a desk sitting either on the floor or a rocker ottoman. Engaged and on task all day requiring very little direction, thank goodness.
My third little girl, Leni, is in first grade. She struggles the most to sit still, always bursting with creativity. A typical day for Leni is non-typical. She, in particular, loves the fact that she can sit under the table, on the table, or on the floor depending on how she feels. This is something different from what she is used to at school where she’s cooped up in her desk most of her day.
Sadie, my fourth child, is four. To be honest, I am struggling just to keep her occupied! If she had it her way, she would rule and direct us from the top of the castle all day!
What’s important is that when it comes to learning spaces, as parents and educators we collectively grapple constantly with the concept of comfort, choice and the importance of
If we create environments that really speak to this, will kids learn?
Can they learn? Is it right that each child receives the same opportunity, or is it essential that we understand the needs of all learners? To work diligently and creatively to respond in ways that facilitate not only the learner but just as importantly, the learning?
As we stay in and have the opportunity to witness our own children, can we take a moment to really observe?
How do they learn best?
How do they learn differently?
Are they able to make bad choices on their own, and then correct themselves with good choices?
Do your kids actually need to move and change their settings in order to maintain focus and engagement?
These are all important questions to ask of the new home learning environment. But one thing I think we may all agree upon is that there will always be a need for schools. A place where physical human interaction is an essential ingredient to the holistic learning process.
Spaces and places that nurture the development of those soft skills will always be critical to a child’s wellbeing and personal and social development. Environments that speak to equity, where experts can spark imaginations, nurture creativity and ignite a lifelong passion for discovery and knowledge.
Right now, we are flies on the living room, bedroom and kitchen walls, witnessing real-life evidence that it’s not the “traditional space” that facilitates learning. While in fact when given the opportunity to create a space that meets our own learning style and learning needs, the greater our opportunity to connect to our tasks with confidence.
Through this thought-provoking experience, we will no doubt discover more about our kids’ approach learning, and how we as a community can continue to provide every learner the space to discover how they learn best.
Jolene Levin, co-founder of NorvaNivel, is fiercely passionate about transforming the world of educational spaces. NorvaNivel was founded in 2010 with a singular mission: To relentlessly explore new ways to design learner-centered spaces where not one, but every child is engaged, and every educator is empowered. During the past decade, Jolene has partnered with hundreds of education leaders, guiding them through the process of change as they navigate from traditional classroom design to future-ready learning spaces. She brings with her hundreds of successful case studies and thousands of successful learning space installations. Jolene’s biggest inspiration is her children and transforming the world in which they learn.
The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.