Principle 6: Learning Environments

Learning Environments

Twenty-First Century learning environments must be designed to grow potential in every student. Everyone with whom students interact in a public school setting must help students develop their identities as positive and productive assets, constantly open to new learning. Intelligence is not set at birth, but grows and develops over time. Helping each student develop into a resilient, intelligent, resourceful, ethical, and compassionate human being is a more important goal than raising test scores or standardizing curriculum content.

  • Providing programs and services to students when they need them and not waiting until they are in crisis or labeled failures is an essential responsibility of public education. Early childhood learning opportunities and high-quality, timely interventions by qualified individuals are essential in raising up all learners so they can succeed.
  • Student learning experiences promote and encourage persistence, curiosity, creativity, exploration, and intellectual risk taking through hands-on, real world applications.
  • Educational psychology research has established the concept of “zone of proximal development” where a student can be both challenged and moved forward by what is to be learned. This is a powerful process that should be used to accelerate learning for all students. Personalized learning should target this “zone,” connect with the student’s current level of understanding, and help him or her work through the challenge of acquiring and consolidating the next level of understanding. Well-designed instruction incorporates direct teaching, exploratory activities, and peer interactions into this process.
  • Teachers must capitalize on the human brain’s own reward systems and make learning compelling by designing to each student’s strengths and interests.
  • Time, an invaluable resource in the teaching/learning process, should be used equitably to ensure that all students learn successfully.
  • Alternatives to grouping by chronological age and ability must be incorporated into the organizational structure of schools at all levels.