Jeffery A. Lackney, Ph.D.
Based on a workshop facilitated with Randall Fielding, AIA
1. Rich-simulating environments – color, texture, "teaching architecture", displays created by students (not teacher) so students have connection and ownership of the product.
2. Places for group learning – breakout spaces, alcoves, table groupings to facilitate social learning and stimulate the social brain; turning breakout spaces into living rooms for conversation.
3. Linking indoor and outdoor places – movement, engaging the motor cortex linked to the cerebral cortex, for oxygenation.
4. Public places containing symbols of the school community’s larger purpose to provide coherency and meaning that increases motivation (warning: go beyond slogans).
5. Safe places – reduce threat, especially in urban settings.
6. Variety of places – provide a variety of places of different shapes, color, light, nooks & crannies.
7. Changing displays – changing the environment, interacting with the environment stimulates brain development. Provide display areas that allow for stage set type constructions to further push the envelope with regard to environmental change.
8. Have all resources available – provide educational, physical and the variety of settings in close proximity to encourage rapid development of ideas generated in a learning episode. This is an argument for wet areas/ science, computer-rich workspaces all integrated and not segregated. Multiple functions and cross-fertilization of ideas are primary goal.
9. Flexibility – a common principle in the past continues to be relevant. Many dimensions of flexibility of place are reflected in other principles.
10. Active/passive places – students need places for reflection and retreat away from others for intrapersonal intelligence as well as places for active engagement for interpersonal intelligence.
11. Personalized space – the concept of homebase needs to be emphasized more than the metal locker or the desk; this speaks to the principle of uniqueness; the need to allow learners to express their self-identity, personalize their special places, and places to express territorial behaviors.
12. The surrounding community as the optimal learning environment – need to find ways to fully utilize all urban and natural environments as the primary learning setting, the school as the fortress of learning needs to be challenged and conceptualized more as a resource-rich learning center that supplements life-long learning. Technology, distance learning, community and business partnerships, home-based learning, all need to be explored as alternative organizational structures for educational institutions of the present and future.
This list is not intended to be comprehensive in any way. A second caveat to presenting these design principles for brain-compatible learning environments concerns the need to use as many of these principles in combination in the design of a school building as possible. Many principles reinforce each other in providing a coherency and wholeness often lacking in buildings designed around a single concept/fad, like open schools or house concepts. School designs that incorporate a variety of these principles will by definition have the flexibility to accommodate a wide array of learning styles.
See the full paper originally published on Design Share.