Designing lives, Designing Classrooms

Teaching as a medium to transmit knowledge has always existed since the dawn of civilization. As read in our scriptures, the system of teaching surpasses the time immemorial, be it listed in legendary texts of Ramayana and Mahabharata or in the ancient texts of Panini and Kalpasutra. Though very different from the current mode of education, the system of Ashrama shiksha (apprentice training) had created its own share of legends in the history.

This mode of teaching revolved around an intense system of togetherness wherein students lived with their mentor, the teacher, the rishi which became their family. Classes there used to conduct under a tree wherein the sage or the teacher would deliver his lesson/lecture to the group of students directly. These classes used to happen under a tree or a courtyard in an informal seating but ensuring a lot of interaction of the students with teachers.

This was surpassed then by the classroom teaching which started in confined setting. There the format of a teacher teaching a group of students sustained but the seating got formalized to an arrayed arrangement, wherein the focus is not on teacher but board, which promotes the significance of board than teacher and hence influences students to memorize than learn.  This simple example demonstrates the importance of classroom layout in teaching.

In order to substantiate the argument if we consider different classroom layouts and their impacts, we can consider an engineering college, an architecture school and a management institute. Engineering and management institutes requires formal classroom setups whereas architecture schools can manage in unceremonious settings also. Engineering schools mostly have a seating layout (either semi-circular or arrayed) with focus at board wherein students directly concentrate at board. A substantial component of the teaching in these schools also happens in the laboratories and thus those who manage to see and observe details, hear and listen lecture and grasp and do experiments continue as engineers post-graduation and rest leave it for other studies. These trends clearly demonstrate how classroom layouts can influence the learning and interest mechanism of students.

The management schools successfully have disclosed a classroom layout which leads to successful teaching making it the most effective and priced education course. They have a horse-shoe type of an arrangement wherein focus is solely on the interaction. All the students are enabled to look at each other leading to enhanced interaction and thus improved learning wherein they are able to discuss their cases, interpretations and discourses.

This analysis helps us establish the importance of a classroom layout for different teaching techniques and courses. Unlike a standardized arrangement for all the classes, effective systems and layouts need to be explored for fruitful teaching and learning alike, and it can be very well said that a while designing a sustainable institute, layouts of classroom play a very important role as otherwise they wont be able to deliver the purpose they are built for.

‘Designing Lives, Designing Classrooms’



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