Interior design is not usually the first item that comes to mind when considering what enhances learning. Amazingly enough, interior design does have a huge impact on learning. Recent studies have shown that the physical design of a classroom can affect student achievement by as much as 25% per year. Today’s public school children need a learning environment that is friendly and open, a place that is aimed at the needs of the student. Marie Montessori recognized the need to engage students while, at the same time, providing them with a place of comfort and security. A school like the following has always recognized the need for classroom design that is meant to encourage learning and to enhance student abilities.

Recently, the University of Salford teamed with a British architecture firm to conduct a year long study on the effects of interior design in schools. Throughout the study, researchers examined student performance in academic areas and rated classrooms based on environmental qualities. The study revealed that student performance increased 73% when students were able to move about and explore their environment. At the end of the study they determined that factors such set up, lighting, color, and temperature all had a dramatic effect on student learning.

Another study conducted by Steelcase Education showed that classrooms designed for active learning were more likely to engage students than were traditional models. The straight rows and often cluttered walls of the traditional classroom tended to damper creativity and forced children into molds that hampered their ability to learn. The study revealed that these classrooms produced higher levels of student engagement, more creativity, and more motivation across the board.

Traditional classrooms are often rigid in their approach to student learning. The typical design creates an environment for the teacher and not the student. The findings of these two studies show what Montessori schools have known for years. The design of classrooms have direct and drastic impacts on a child’s capacity to learn. Montessori schools employ soft lighting, an inviting atmosphere, and soft colors in all their classrooms. The combination results in a working environment which fosters learning as a hands-on process. Because students are comfortable in their environment, they view learning as fun. The drudgery of a traditional classroom is not present. If public schools took a page from Montessori, they would discover that active learning can take place in an environment that is relaxed and student centered.