Effective schools are designed when leaders apply research regarding how people acquire and process information. For instance, if brains process meaning before they process detail, it makes sense to involve students in more relevant and active learning experiences. If we recognize that attention spans are not unlimited, school designs might reflect more varied ecosystems that facilitate frequent movement and inquiry-based learning strategies. If we acknowledge that every brain is different and every brain processes information differently, we might design environments more conducive to individualized instruction, where learning occurs in the context of caring and personalization. If we know that emotional climates are critical to learning, positive relationships will be fostered, safety will rule the day, parents will be more involved, and size will actually matter.
Victoria Bergsagel of Architects of Achievement once served as the director of educational research at Talaris Research Institute. She collaborated with “brain scientist” John Medina on projects related to optimizing learning experiences. Click here to download a keynote presentation the two gave on "rules" about human learning to the annual American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Architecture in Education meeting.