Detroit Country Day School

Designed for Learning

Can classroom design improve results in primary and secondary education?
The newest “active learning” models have us re-examining the impact of physical space on student performance. It’s also inspired some amazing classroom transformations.

Traditional teaching models impose a passive order in the classroom. Rows of stationary desks face a blackboard on beige walls. Not anymore. An active learning environment promotes engagement and participation along with the idea that learning can be fun. The classroom itself plays a problem-solving role. The renovations at Detroit Country Day Schools demonstrate this clearly. Students can better see and interact with teachers, with subject content, and with each other  — often on the fly as assignments can change quickly. Mobile desks and chairs readily support different learning methods and preferences. Desk-side personal whiteboards can help ideas take hold, aid in presentations, and create a screen between students when privacy is required.

The upgraded library supports a bolder vision for how this kind of space can function. Besides serving as an archive for reading material, the room includes zones for teaching, group study and socializing. Lounge seating is popular with small groups. A standing height table enables collaborative work. Some are also wired for technology. According to Timothy Bearden the school’s Chief Academic Officer, “We have worked with NBS over the past several years to transform the teaching and learning spaces at Detroit Country Day School. Using movable, durable, and adaptable Steelcase products, we have turned classrooms and learning spaces into collaborative, engaging spaces congruent with our 21st century experiential, participatory and collaborative pedagogical goals. From design to delivery to service, we have been pleased with the results.”

Can space design improve education? At Detroit Country Day we applied new thinking about how a classroom should function in order to promote deeper engagement through active, hands-on learning. It’s one thought-provoking example of how design can teach a thing or two.

To learn more about this distinguished educational institution visit dcds.edu

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