Minimalism (a deliberate lack of decoration or adornment in design) is a trend that’s been sweeping through our homes, our wardrobes and even our social media feeds. But can you imagine what a minimalist classroom would look like? Well, while minimalism is sometimes a good thing (de-cluttering can make concentration easier to sustain), it’s thought that paring back classroom décor could actually be detrimental for a child’s opportunity to learn.
Visual displays are crucial in the classroom
Speakers at a recent teaching workshop believe that a classroom that is “rich with text and visual displays… reflecting teacher’s and children’s work… [is] conducive to learning”. They argue that charts, artwork, visual symbols and words placed around the room actually act as a supplementary instructional aid, and that it’s a useful way of introducing children to new materials, new concepts and new words.
Think about how you can combine text and visuals with other learning styles
Doubtless you can remember your school days, sitting in your chair and looking around the room to examine maps, posters, images and graphs. Did you find them beneficial? Even if you’re an auditory or kinaesthetic learner, you probably found that text and visual displays were good at stimulating you and helping you understand the ideas that were being discussed in a classroom. Text and visual displays bring a subject to life, and they help to familiarise or reinforce ideas that are otherwise quite hard to grasp via other learning methods alone.
So, how can you use more text and visual displays in your classroom?
Ask children to produce work that can be later displayed on the wall of their classroom.
It’s worth pointing out that there’s little point asking children to create work specifically for a display, however. Instead, children should form pieces of work that benefit them in relation to gaining knowledge and understanding of a subject, rather than just making something to make the classroom look pretty! That said, once work has been produced, it’s a good idea to show it off.
Why? Well, children who feel more engaged in a classroom are more likely to be more receptive to learning, and it’s important to appreciate that children use visual displays and text as a learning tool – not just in their content, but in their creation too! Ensure that children have adequate stationery and materials so they can produce work that everyone wants to look at.
Also, it’s worth remembering that we live in a very visual culture – we consume lots of videos, images and text all day, and we’re often bombarded with advertisements and images that are designed to capture our attention. So, it’s a good idea to harness this ‘behaviour’ and use it to make lessons more effective in the classroom.
Finally, remember to switch things up…
In just the same way that you become bored of the same old scene, remember to change text and visual displays frequently so that children actually notice what’s around them. Talk about the displays they can see in the classroom and discuss how it’s relevant to what they’re learning.
If you’d like to understand more about the importance of text and visual displays, check out this mind map on the subject.