Saturday, October 17, 2015

Classroom Furniture and How Teachers Teach | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Classroom Furniture and How Teachers Teach | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Classroom Furniture and How Teachers Teach



Do photos of classrooms and the arrangement of furniture give observers a glimpse of how teachers teach?
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Yes, they do but only a hint. Here is my reasoning.
Furniture arrangement is seldom mandated by a school board, superintendent, or principal. The teacher decides how to use classroom space. Furniture placement, consciously or not, expresses the teacher’s views of how best to teach, maintain order, and how students learn. Thus, an observer gets a clue to whether teacher-centered and student-centered instruction (including mixes of both)* will prevail.
  1. When all students face the teacher’s desk or teacher at the blackboard (now whiteboard or “smart board”) where directions, daily homework, textbook readings and quizzes are registered, whole group instruction is encouraged including class discussions (recitation was the word used in the early 20th century). Teacher-talk  gains higher priority and legitimacy than exchanges between and among students.
  2. Surveillance is easier for a teacher when rows or tables are in rows. Threats to classroom order can be seen quickly and dealt with expeditiously.
  3. Such a configuration of classroom space limits students’ movement within a classroom to that which the teacher permits.
  4. If desks are arranged into a hollow square, horseshoe, or tables are scattered around the room permitting students to face one another and talk, student-centered instruction where children and youth can work in small groups or individually, student decision-making becomes a much stronger possibility.
Note, however, that furniture arrangements do not determine how teachers Classroom Furniture and How Teachers Teach | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:



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