Planning for the Future of Learning: Creating Flexible, Multi-Use Spaces

K-12 Education

It wasn’t very long ago that each room in a school building had a singular purpose: instruction happened in the classroom, research and reading happened in the library, and the cafeteria was for lunch. Classrooms had rows of desks and chairs where students sat to learn. Cafeterias had tables and benches whose variation only came in whether it was round or rectangular. Media centers had fixed bookshelves, large circulation desks, and furniture to support quiet individual work and research.

So, what changed? Students have more control over their learning and the teacher’s role has shifted from information provider to facilitator. It is understood that hands-on tactile work reinforces many students’ ability to understand the content. In addition to mastering coursework, students must also learn to solve problems creatively and collaborate with their peers in order to prepare for the next phase of their lives. As a result, spaces must be able to support different types of work, sometimes in the same day or hour.