The Victorians often get it in the neck for the way they ‘did’ education.
Yet they can still teach us a thing or two about the classroom environment.
It seems to me that we endlessly debate what Clever Classrooms should look like but the Victorians had a pretty good idea what to do.
The seating arrangements in a classroom are always hotly debated but let’s just say that you are in favour of rows – can your children actually see?
It’s funny that some of us arrange our classrooms in this way and yet if we were to take a seat and get a pupil’s perspective we’d find that some of them struggle to see between the people in front of them. It’s fine for the teacher standing up at the front but not that great for children sitting down peering through heads and bodies shuffling about in front of them.
This is where the Victorians cracked it. In fact, to them it was a no-brainer. The floor of their schoolrooms were tiered so that children sitting at the back were higher up than those sitting at the front. This meant that all of the children had a good view of the teacher and the blackboard. It also meant the teacher had a good view of the class and no one could put their head down and hide.
So, a tiered classroom design, cinema-style, is definitely better than classrooms on one level aren’t they? They are inclusive, more comfortable, support supervision and tiered seats that are stacked are also space saving.
The walls of a Victorian classroom were mostly bare. Compare that to today’s classrooms which are the opposite and suffocate children.
Less is more and although bare might be the extreme, sensory overload isn’t good. Classroom layout really does matter.