An Innovative Approach to Bring Comfort and Relaxation into the Classroom

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Makeover Propels Math Classroom Into the Future

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Working on an absolute maximum problem, Anderson High School junior Jai Jackson writes 4x-7=0 on the dry-erase table as seniors Siraj Elbey and Marissa Merritt wait.

Welcome to the classroom of the future, where students can work their equations directly on their tables, on the doors of the storage closets and even on the floor. They can sit on the backs of chairs, on cushions on the floor or in bean bags.

“I think I’ve sat here the whole entire year at this table,” said Jackson, 16.

Installed in pieces since the summer, the classroom is one example of the ways schools are accommodating the learning comfort of students.

Elbey, 18, says the new set-up in Richard Ziuchkovski’s calculus class makes him want to do his classwork.

“When I’m at ease more, I feel more comfortable to do work,” he said. “I can concentrate better, too.”

The wall-to-wall experiment was assembled at the suggestion of Erin Jennings, interior designer and graduate architect at Anderson-based krM Architecture. The firm historically has done quite a bit of work for Anderson Community Schools, she said.

She said it’s not unusual for a manufacturer to want to create a prototype space in which to test out new materials or the use of existing materials in new ways.

“We really like to do these prototype classrooms to see how receptive they are to these products,” she said. “Until we really bring that product into our market and our communities, that’s where we start to understand what’s going to work. Every school is different in their culture and their pedagogy.”

In this instance, it was the manufacturer of a vinyl tile flooring product, Jennings said.

“The intent was that schools would be able to retrofit their heavy traffic areas with a terrazzo look without a terrazzo cost,” she said. “They’re always looking for cost-effective solutions on the interiors.”

The idea for the evidence-based design started with the notion that the flooring could be used as a large whiteboard where students could work their long calculus problems that require a bit of space to work, Jennings said. Cushions were provided so students could lounge comfortably while they worked.

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