1

One of the phrases from the neuropsychologist José Ramón Gamo in relation to the process of learning in a social context.

2

Video: José Ramón Gamo Conference, Learn Together, Grow with ADHD, Aprendemosjuntos, «Crecer con el TDAH»

3

Video: Rosan Bosch TEDx Zaragoza Conference, Design schools where students don’t want to leave. «Diseñar escuelas de donde los niños no quieran irse»

Learning spaces; incentives, design, and educational models

Left Image: Space, educational system and model: rigid tradition vs flexibility and adaptability / Right image: Vittra School Telefonplan, Rosan Bosch Studio. Source: rosanbosch.dk

The process of learning is determined by its environment and «the brain needs to get excited to learn»1. Excitement is an emotion that feeds itself on sensory stimulation which makes spacial design play a very important role in the process of motivation and creativity.

Spaces have the capacity to generate sensations, determine experiences, behaviors, and different types of interactions. But, can we define a space? To understand how the configuration of our environment affects us we need to go over the design of the space and the influence that it has on its inhabitants, but it is also important to understand how the brain works and how it forms a relationship with external stimuli. In the conference  Aprendemosjuntos  (We learn together) about how to live with ADHD2, the neuropsychologist José Ramón Gamo spoke about the executive function of the brain in relation to its surrounding environment in response to the question of whether or not there actually are more children now with this disorder than there were before. Gamo indicated that consistently there is between 3% and 7% of the population with this disorder (approximately 1 or 2 children with the disorder in every classroom of 25). However, he continued that what happens in today’s world which is different than before,  is that given social context there are more children with expressions that are similar to those with ADHD, and this is related to the overall game. Gamo explained that the region of the brain where these functions are located is very sensitive to entertainment (the brain modifies itself for use), but now we have a social situation that doesn’t train these functions in the same way as we have in the past. Children no longer grow up playing chess or parchesi, and they also don’t grow up playing outside in the streets, and many of these games required an executive function in their development.

Having said that, cities now talk about the relative infrastructure and spacial experience, but school classrooms should not be exempt. Children spend a good part of their day in school, so let’s think how the spacial configuration of a school environment should define us. For example, consider what the suggested hierarchy and the rigid structure in the placement of desks and other furniture communicate. Combine that with the positioning of the teacher at the head of the class in front of all students, and this rigidity does the exact opposite than motivate the students to learn. This is one of the principal problems that affects school drop outs.
Basing her work on this problem, designer  Rosan Bosch3, designs school spaces that are dynamic and flexible with an origin in instinctive nature. She commented in a  TEDx that «learning is one of the most important processes of our lives, but we have a problem with classroom spaces, and it’s that they don’t motivate students to learn. This problem has become one of the principal reasons that students drop out of school around the world.».

The city and schools are two spacial and relative scales that are linked with learning, with the psychomotor development of children, with the capacity to concentrate and relate, and with emotional intelligence. On the other hand, the concept of ludic space as a medium for learning is linked to the educational model, making it therefore impossible to talk about the limiting spaces which discourage learning without first considering the rigidity of the school program in itself. Classroom design responds to an educational model that is confined and limited by one singular path for an entire universe of complex and diverse students. We’re talking about an educational model based on a productive and competitive system, that has never been updated or refined to meet the current demands, nor has it been capable of taking on the diversities or the real necessities of the students. Working with the potential of cities and schools to maintain and stimulate the innate creativity of children, as well as developing their capacities to their highest extent, will drive us towards a change in the concept of design of educational spaces, but it will always be parallel to a change of the paradigm of the entire educational system, and to humanizing the city.


Text translated by Kaytlin P. Delaney
Notas de página
1

One of the phrases from the neuropsychologist José Ramón Gamo in relation to the process of learning in a social context.

2

Video: José Ramón Gamo Conference, Learn Together, Grow with ADHD, Aprendemosjuntos, «Crecer con el TDAH»

3

Video: Rosan Bosch TEDx Zaragoza Conference, Design schools where students don’t want to leave. «Diseñar escuelas de donde los niños no quieran irse»

Autor:
Arquitecta con especialización en urbanismo, paisaje y edición editorial. Después de trabajar en distintos estudios de arquitectura me desempeño de forma independiente. Me dedico a la investigación en el campo de lo urbano, la ciudad, la movilidad, el espacio público, el paisaje y lo social; todos estos son algunos de los temas sobre los que escribo. Colaboro como divulgadora en medios digitales; soy co-editora en la plataforma Urban Living Lab y corresponsal en La Ciudad Viva y en Arquitasa. Registro mis reflexiones en mi blog y comparto en twitter como @gaudi_no

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