After retiring from teaching I spent a couple of years subbing in a wide variety of classes. Since less substitute teachers want Jr. or Sr. high I spent much time in classrooms in a number of schools and subjects. I had also spent some time in a number of learning environments over my four decades of teaching.
Adults sometimes forget that older students need stimulating classrooms designed to motivate, educate, and inspire fully as much as younger students do. In keeping with the best that advertising professionals have to offer, these near-adults deserve an offering of the best-marketed education possible.
In some teens’ classrooms across the country, the walls are rather bare. When students finish their work, there is no preplanned structure for a tradition of commitment to learning. Given this vacuum they visit, sleep, or find other ways to kill time. This seems so contrary to the whole idea at the heart of education!
The Difference a Stimulating Classroom Environment Makes
Since teens are getting closer to adulthood their learning environments need to be conducive to preparing for the future.
Almost everyone has feasted on the sensory excitement of an elementary classroom. Spatial arrangement along with sights and sounds, unite to make it stimulating to all who are present.
But it can be alarming to walk into a classroom for older students where there is a shortage of stimulation for learning, or at worst, none at all.
Some educators operate on the idea that “decorations are only for children.” If that were the case, explain the highly successful atmosphere of the average mall! Older students have just as much need to be inspired as younger children do.
The Dangers of Schools Emphasizing Being Cool Over Academics
Modern technology has made wondrous communication possible, empowering schools to produce their own “Morning Shows.” However, the danger lies in lack of focus on the mission of education. Some of these programs risk getting lost in really cool sequeys, and may never quite get to substance.
Far better it would be to make academics cool, not just act cool hoping the students will eventually embrace academics. Too often staff and students may get lost in an endless quest for “attitude” rather than putting emphasis on how developing a genuinely better attitude can make a improve one’s life.
Value of Empowering Students to Focus on Education and Building a Future
The morning “news” presented by some schools places emphasis on how loyal the students are to the sports teams and school spirit. Although that may have value, when in the context of an education it can be a staircase to nowhere.
It would be worth putting efforts ito focusing on academic achievement (not just test performance), community involvement, and ways students are working to build a future for themselves.
Jr. and Sr. High students need a stimulating learning environment. Teachers can take a page from the advertising industry by incorporating color, sound, movement and catch phrases to arouse interest. This may include excitement, humor, fun, titillating the curiosity of the students, keeping them awake and involved even when they are off the task at hand.
Rather than orchestrate it completely previously to the arrival of the students, why not include the young people in making the learning cool? Involving them in their present empowers their journey to claiming a fine future.
Some educators are already excelling in establishing an interesting environment in which to learn. They deserve loads of credit for the extra efforts of making those classrooms inviting and inspiring.
Copyright 2013 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.