Learning can happen anywhere. Recognizing this, a good learning environment creates nurturing spaces for all kinds of learners at diverse ages and stages of life. A good learning environment is not going to attempt ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Instead, it focuses on the individual well-being of learners while utilizing a range of learning methods and processes. With evolving approaches to teaching and learning, there are some key aspects that can help all parents and educators create good learning environments for children.
5 Characteristics Of A Good Learning Environment
1. Acknowledge diversity in learners
Each learner carries experiences and some knowledge of the context they come from. While there are common goals and similarities among the learners, there will be diversity in pace of learning and doing. Instead of waiting for all to come to ‘same level’ for each goal or task, it will be useful to keep creating opportunities to learn, ask, and practice. Each learner can move forward with flexibility. This is especially important in early childhood when children are learning to master various skills. Accepting diversity is the first step to create inclusive learning environments.
2. Treat learners as active participants instead of passive recipients
Learning happens when we participate in one or more of these connected processes: read, listen, observe, reflect, do, repeat, experience, and so on. When we treat learners as passive recipients of knowledge and skills, we make the mistake of assuming that our activities will always have a positive or useful effect on everyone if only ‘they’ could do things the way ‘we’ are telling ‘them’ to. Instead of doing so, a good learning environment will actually focus on how each learning outcome can be achieved via different means and pathways. Each learner may interact with each task differently and may also achieve the outcome at their own pace. They may have a different idea of how they want to try things.
3. Encourage deeper relationships with the world
Our relationship with the world around us is not just about connecting with human beings. It is about nature as well. Rather than assuming that human beings are powerful and have authority to take what they want from nature, a deeper shift in this relationship needs to be encouraged. Children, right from early stages, have to see themselves a part of this interdependent and interconnected world where diverse living beings co-exist. A good learning environment moves away from the ideas of ‘superiority’ and ‘inferiority’ towards a more equal space for all where each one has a right to live life to the fullest without harming the other. Empathy towards self, each other, and the planet: all have to be practised every day for a sustainable world.
4. View learning to learn as a competence
In the ever-changing world, it is impossible to teach everything to everyone for a safe and secure future. But what is possible, is to help everyone learn how can they acquire skills, perspectives, and knowledge. ‘How to learn’ has to be treated as a competence that has to be developed in each learner. Along with this, it is important to know each learner, see what really motivates them to learn, and what steps they already take to fulfil their learning needs. Inquire based learning and other such approaches may be useful to follow.
5. Adequate and long term support to teachers and learners
Learning does not stop after school. Hence, opportunities, resources, and spaces for learning have to be available beyond school classrooms and in communities as well. In fact, schools that utilize meaningful connections within communities may be able to create far more inclusive spaces for learning. At the same time, the educators or anyone whose role is to facilitate learning: they too need to be supported with training, toolkits, accessible spaces, and other resources that help them fulfil their roles.
21st-century skills are not just about learning digital or technology skills. Cross-curricular approaches are needed to provide each learner with a more complete learning path. It is becoming increasingly important to focus on holistic learning needs as well as well-being of learners. This would help to build a better world and the future-ready global citizens who are also deeply connected with their environments.
How Can Ginny’s Planet Help?
Ginny’s Planet is a group of experts that helps to instil and nurture empathy, respect for diversity, and the spirit of inquiry. The products & workshops simplify and trigger conversations on empathy, diversity, & disability. We have developed an Educators’ Kit on diversity to help teachers engage children in learning and consolidating perspectives on diversity. Explore the Kit HERE
Also, join Summer Saturdays for Kids on Ginny’s Planet