The impact of the aesthetic environment on learning
Our aesthetic environment has a big impact on the way that we feel. And, the way we feel has a big impact on our attitude and mindset to learning.
For children, this is no different. In fact, children are usually even more aware and sensitive to their surroundings. This is especially so for students with specific sensory needs. This is because their physical environment can calm them and make them feel safe and open to learning. Or, it can make them feel overstimulated and closed to learning.
Your school environment can enrich the curriculum and opportunities that you provide. It can also enthuse and motivate pupils to be ready to learn. In short, it’s key to prepare pupils with a positive attitude to learning the moment they walk in the door. Your school environment can calm and relax, intrigue and excite. So, the possibilities are huge and can be varied in aim from area to area.
Engagement and decision-making
Aesthetics can affect our decisions, emotional responses and the way we feel about ourselves and other people. Therefore, if you provide an aesthetic environment that makes people feel happy to be there, they will be more able to learn. In this way, you can impact their progress and success, which creates a positive attitude to learning. In fact, for some children it can be the key to getting them in the door when school is not a place they want to be.
The same goes for parents too. So, if you are looking to increase parental engagement, start with the aesthetics of the school. This can have a real impact on parents’ willingness to visit, get involved and support pupils in learning.
This isn’t just a theory we have because we love to work with schools to bring their walls to life. Scientists and psychologists agree! In fact, there are two fields that neuroscientist and psychologists are working on that prove the impact aesthetics have on our feelings.
These are called:
- embodied cognition, which focuses specifically on the effect of the aesthetic environment on cognition
- and neuro-aesthetics which looks more at the biological role of aesthetics
What do these studies show?
They show thatcertain aspects of a room’s design influence how people perform within them.
These include the colours, textures of walls, floors and ceilings, the designs on them and even the lighting. Alain de Botton has also completed a lot of work based on this theory. In his book, The Architect of Happiness, he reviews the design of fast food restaurants. He suggest that they are designed to be bright, harsh and uncomfortable in order to move us on quickly. Then, he compares this to the interiors of places like Westminster Cathedral. Here, the décor encourages people to stay, soak it up and feel serene or at peace.
As a school you may wonder how you can create an aesthetic environment for all pupils with a vast rangs of needs. By zoning areas, you can create places that feel safe and appeal to different students. Zoned areas can tune students’ minds into the lessons ahead. They can also encourage them to approach their lesson with a positive attitude towards their learning.
Calming break out zones such as intervention rooms, canteens and break time areas can provide a space to release tension and relax between lessons. This can energise students to engage positively with their next session. Furthermore, communal areas such as your hall can be transformed. Wall Art that focuses on values, mottos and houses, for example, can create a feeling of unity and belonging. It can encourage teamwork and collaboration, to connect the school community in a positive way.
Fundamentally, you can create an environment that is meaningful to the broad group of students that you have. It can be relevant to their age and aspirations and evoke feelings of calm, excitement, aspiration and belonging. The messages can vary from area to area. But the fact that you place value on their surroundings is an excellent way to show students that their well-being and comfort is valued. Pupils who are well adjusted, happy will have a positive attitude to school and make more progress.