Designing for a rapidly changing world

“To develop the education paradigm, we should look more to our physical environments”

Some 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. Designing learning environments for an unknown future call for flexibility, says learning space creator Rosan Bosch.

The lifespan of knowledge and skills acquired in school continues to shrink. Science and technology evolve in a pace that constantly push our global work force to become more adaptable and agile, and despite of this fact schools still have the same layout that was developed for rote learning.

The layout of schools resembles the layout of prisons. Instead, schools should be flexible and encourage different ways of learning.

To achieve equity and relevance, practically everyone who plays a part in education needs a change in mindset. A characteristic and beautiful façade can provide identity and a sense of belonging to the users of a building. It does very little for the learning process.

We have never asked so much of our education system as we do today — but we ask it because the future we aspire to requires it. Preparing all children for uncertainty requires greater attention to inclusiveness in learning situations and differentiation in teaching and learning experiences.

To develop the education paradigm, we should look more to our physical environments and its role in increasing student’s motivation to learn how they learn best.

Play as a catalyst for better learning

Studies show that 80 % of all juvenile mammals play to learn. We send our children into the educational system because we believe that it will develop them as human beings. But the monotonous spaces foster passive behaviour and inactivity limits creativity and human development.

What we are in desperate need of is education that support a natural growth, individual needs and encourage self-direction. Children and youth surrounded by rich environments designed for wonder will have their intrinsic motivation to play and to learn stimulated. Education must not only focus on what is learned but how learning happens – skills acquired over content memorised.

Playful social experiences provide an opportunity to develop flexible behavioural strategies when novel and uncertain situations arise. Humans’ natural-born curiosity forms the basis of the desire to play and is the primary driving force for creative thinking and learning.

Through play, we investigate and discover the world. We connect with other people and engage with our surroundings.

Play sets the basis for us to develop skills, acquire new knowledge, and discover possibilities throughout our lives. And through play, we learn how to interact with each other. Play is fundamental to children’s positive development and their ability to develop skills they will need in the future.

Integrating play as one of the key strategies in the pedagogy and physical environment, we stimulate an intrinsic human activity closely connected to curiosity, creativity, and learning.

Rather than stimulating creativity, the spatiality of traditional schools suppresses and controls both behavior and play. Learners should experience a safe and trusting space where they can grow as human beings, flourish to their best potential, and stay motivated to learn for the rest of their life.

About the author: Rosan Bosch is Founder and Creative Director at Rosan Bosch Studio. She has worked professionally with arts, architecture, and design for more than 25 years. Rosan is a coveted speaker internationally and the author of several books and publications addressing how playful design can enhance motivation, human potential, and support lifelong learning.