School Design Ergonomics

The Classroom Environment Contributes                                           Greatly to Learning

School ergonomics is helpful for school interior designers.  It is good to know how a student will most likely succeed when they are in a learning environment.  Indeed, in the last few years, according to an article published in 2008 in the UK’s ‘The Guardian,’ “Schools are being encouraged to take ergonomics seriously, to improve pupils’ posture and their concentration.”  This means that those who are involved in ergonomics at school should look at all types of classroom furniture.  This includes:  school chairs, school desks, any folding tables that are used, folding chairs, computer tables, classroom tables and classroom chairs.

Indeed, in the UK a campaign was launched on this very topic.  Entitled ‘The Safe Seats of Learning,’ it sought to put an end to the “one-size-fits-all” approach to school furnishings.  Research found that given that there are an increasing number of students using computers, it has been found that “inadequate workstations can have serious implications for pupils’ musculoskeletal health.”  Thus, for those involved in the ergonomics of school design, it is important to bear this in mind.

Children Deserve the Best in School

School Furniture Attuned to the Needs of Children

All day long, while our children are sitting at their school desks in their school chairs, they are trying hard to concentrate on what the message their teachers are conveying to them. Imagine sitting there for hours on end while the teacher stands at her podium, endlessly talking. All of us who have attended school as children should be able to recall this feeling. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if school furniture was more attuned to the needs of children trying to learn, understand and remember the teacher’s words? Giving our children the best in school, whether it is well-designed computer tables, school lockers, or classroom chairs should be a priority of our society.

School and Church Furniture

Ergonomic Church Furniture Can Enhance the Mood
Ergonomic Church Furniture Can Enhance the Mood

School and church furniture serve many functions. Firstly, they provide students and congregants with places to sit and focus on school work and prayer while remaining comfortable and undistracted. However, furniture is evolving now to enhance the learning environment and ability to concentrate in other ways.

Chairs and desks come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Researchers have been studying the effects of different features on people’s learning abilities and productivity. Bright color and unique shapes promote creativity and confidence in a classroom and in church, as do certain desk designs, wall colors, podiums and classroom layouts.

The Importance of Comfortable Work Environments

Bad Posture in School Can                Interfere with Learning

For children to succeed at school, it is important that they are educated in a comfortable work environment.  This means that the classroom chairs are of top quality (perhaps even ergonomically-friendly).  The classroom tables should be at the correct level for their height, and an emphasis put on the provision of quality school furniture.

According to Prakash Nair, President of Fielding/Nair International LLC and an award-winning architect, and his partner architect Randall Fielding, the company’s Principal, there are eight truths that should be upheld vis-à-vis student learning conditions.  Nair and Fielding believe:

a) Comfort matters – the more comfortable the student, the better they will work. Research on environmental design has shown the “positive effect comfort can have on learning, human productivity and creativity.” This leads to

b) There should be absolutely no discomfort for the student at school.

c) There is a link between breathing and learning and comfortable classroom chairs. The better the breathing, the better the learning.

d) Louder areas are NOT conducive to good learning.

e) School furniture should be designed small with children in mind. School furniture and their classrooms should be inviting for children, rather than spacious and overwhelming.

f) Even a café can be conducive to learning. Cafés are generally small and intimate and therefore can be a place of student creativity.

g) Make the outdoor spaces in the school comfortable. Outdoor spaces can expand the learning environment that started inside the classrooms. Finally,

h) Emotions play a role in comfort in classrooms.  As Nair concluded, “It is difficult to overemphasize the need to create environments where students can feel both secure and significant.”

If Nair and Fielding’s findings are followed by school design teams, students will end up with quality school furniture, comfortable computer tables and classroom tables and ergonomically-approved classroom chairs.  This will provide them with potentially the most comfortable work environments and the most successful learning experiences.

Quality Classroom Chairs

Yellow School Chairs at Rutgers University

One important factor in providing students a quality education is the design of school furniture. Having children sit on quality classroom chairs can enhance their level of education.  Schools focus on quality education, safety in schools and socialization.  Once the staff is in place, the school administration needs to look at how the school is designed, with a focus on the quality of the furniture in the school.

According to an article published in The New York Times in January, 2013 by Al Baker, this does not seem to be such a strong focal point of school administrations.  Indeed, quoted in this article was Wes Bradley, the principal of Thomas Nelson High School in Bardstown, Kentucky.  Bradley said that he doubted “many school districts had ever had a discussion about chairs.”  In the six years that Bradley taught in a high school in the Bronx, New York, he had never seen chairs like the thousand new ones that he put into his school’s 40 classrooms in August, 2012.  He described each of them as “a vessel of student sovereignty.”  He described them as “human-friendly, form to the body,” and that they come in “energizing colors.”

In the same NY Times article it was reported that “administrators who have used newer, more flexible or free-moving chairs say that children find their new seats more comfortable and that they seem more engaged. Few studies have been conducted on whether chairs affect student performance, though a four-year study of 400 students conducted by a German nonprofit devoted to ‘posture and mobilization support’ said children were able to concentrate for longer periods if they were given more mobile seats, combined with lesson plans that involved moving around.”