Follow AAE on:

Subscribe to RSS Feed:

Innovative Classroom Furniture For a New Age
posted by: Melissa | January 22, 2014, 08:06 PM   

Quick! I say classroom furniture and you think–desks and chairs. The traditional student desk has been the mainstay of classrooms for well over 100 years. Popularized by the factory model of education, this piece of furniture was ideal for keeping classes in nice, neat rows. Since school work at the time focused on individual achievement and not collaboration, the fact that an individual desk also gave each student their own workspace was ideal.


Since that time, our knowledge about how students learn has increased dramatically. We've also moved beyond the industrial era and into the information age, with all of its new demands and skills. Appropriately, schools have begun to move away from sit and get instruction and test out new models of learning. Blended, project based, and collaborative are the words of the day.

As the way that we teach begins to change, so have our views of the traditional classrooms. Many wonder if the traditional student desk has a place in the future of education. Alternatives to the traditional classroom set-up with its rows of individual desks abound, and are sure to inspire.

Steelcase, a furniture company that has added an education division, has a great video that highlights how thoughtful furniture design can re-invigorate the classroom.

Bridgepoint Elementary in Texas is piloting redesigned classrooms that correlate with their new mobile device initiative.

This classroom in Killian Middle School made an apparently small change that resulted in dramatically increased collaboration by adding whiteboards, basically, everywhere.

Here's a video that highlights what the simple act of adding wheels can do.

While it's true that most teachers don't have autonomy over what furniture is placed in their classroom, they can make sure that their principals and administration knows about the options, while making sure that their preference for furniture that fits their learning style is known.


Comments (6)Add Comment
Desks and chairs
written by April Lucas Pinetops NC, June 19, 2018

My Title 1 school is a loving, child- centered environment.
We work very hard to meet many needs of our children and are lucky to have commu support. My students need safe and functional desks and chairs. Currently, students sit in desks and chairs that are coming apart and are a danger to fingers getting trapped or little bodies falling in the floor when a chair falls apart. All capital funds have been used for technology so there is no money for furniture. I would like my students to feel safe in their classroom and have pride for their work space. Does your site allow me to write a grant to purchase new furniture?
New Student Desks
written by Latonya Connelly/Hawthorne, Florida, May 02, 2016

On my previous post, I forgot to add location. I am sorry.I am writing to inquire abut how to get new student desks for our school. We currently have the desks that are referred to as the "on-arm bandit" and we are a middle high school, grades 6-12. I feel like students would be more comfortable in a bigger desk, which would improve student academic.
New Student Desks
written by Latonya Connelly, May 02, 2016

I am writing to inquire abut how to get new student desks for our school. We currently have the desks that are referred to as the "on-arm bandit" and we are a middle high school, grades 6-12. I feel like students would be more comfortable in a bigger desk, which would improve student academic.
Language Arts and Social Studies teacher
written by Andrea Rumley, July 19, 2014

Our library needs a makeover. We have the same furniture as when I attended in 1984. I feel that students would embrace the love of reading and research more if the atmosphere were more modern. Currently it is not an attractive place to be within our school. We have an open library still from the days when the open classroom idea was tried and new furniture would make the area an inviting place for guest speakers and club meetings. We students to look forward to a visit to our library.
...
written by MelissaPritchett, May 14, 2014

I would love round tables or flower tables in my first grade classroom! If talking or too much socializing is an issue, then that is a classroom management issue, not a table issue!
Tables in First Grade drive me BUGGY.
written by costaricaterrazu, Milwaukee, February 12, 2014

When a presenter wants people to visit, what does he do? He puts them at round tables. Round tables in First Grade? Wow, that's a lot of unwanted socializing. And touching other people's things. And rarely getting a break from having people in your space. I'm an aide in a firstie room, and I just can't help it: this setup drives me CRAZY. If they're not socializing, they're getting on one another's last nerve. I agree that neat, tidy rows all the time is an outdated way of teaching. Desks that can be easily slid into different formations is perfect; lots of possibilities. Chairs/desks on wheels: cool, IF not abused. And if really durable.

Submit a comment
 (not published)
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters


busy