Does an open space facilitate a more open minded and collaborative environment? An open space classroom, similar to an open space work environment is basically one room where everyone works without separation divided by floor to ceiling walls sometimes with high ceilings to create even more space. In 2006, I graduated from West Windsor – Plainsboro High School South where the architectural and interior design had a open space classroom environment.
There was some separation between classrooms but these were divided by rolling partitions that could rearrange the shape of the classroom, merge two classrooms together and allowed for a glimpse into the next classroom.
What i loved about this environment was when I lost focus during class, began to drift in and out of the lecture or the teacher and the lesson just happened to be boring that day, my idle mind didn’t just drift into la-la land, my eyes were able to see into the next classroom and i was able to hear the other lecture even if it was only on a subconscious level.
This allowed my mind and all of my senses to be processing multiple information at one time.
The ceilings were very high opening the space even more so and the interior shape of the building and its walls followed several circular pattern flows meaning you could always find your way to wherever you needed by making a loop. There were very few rigid, boxed in walls and after sophomore year, students were allowed to leave the building and the campus during lunch, during study hall and if classes ended for the day. It was set up similar to a college or university campus.
We had areas throughout the building called “the commons” and these were designed similar to group work environments with 20 – 30 round tables, these were where students came to work on projects, play games and where we ate during lunch if we wanted to stay on grounds.
One other positive aspect of my high school, aside from the design of the building was the design of those who attended it. My high school was racially and culturally diverse – allowing for an even more open-minded and less judgmental view of others.
Although the environment was very free in comparison to most high schools in the country, the competition was fierce and academia was a high priority to the majority of the students. Based on my experience, I would say the benefits of this type of open space classroom and later work environments are the ability to multitask extremely well, develop a friendlier and socially extroverted attitude, work as a team with others and later in life I witnessed how this type of high school experience made me a more creative and free thinking individual – something i think both our education system and our work places could use more of!