CHICAGO (CBS) — The focus of school administrators has long been on things like textbooks and teachers. Now one north suburban high school district thinks the answer to better learning might involve different furniture and paint.
Most classrooms at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South high schools still look like familiar image of rows of desks facing the blackboard at the front, where the teacher leads their lessons, amid walls with bland beige or cream colors.
But four classrooms at each school now are testing what could be the future of school. The rooms feature bold colors, wheeled chairs and movable tables replacing stationary desks, lots of handheld whiteboards, and even wobbly cushioned stools and sofas.
“It’s all about learning,” Glenbrook High Schools District 225 assistant superintendent Rosanne Williamson said. “We’ve heard a little bit like, ‘Oh this is just hippie dippy stuff.’ There is research. Certain colors are supposed to help with learning. So green might help with learning, and this room is an example.”
Other rooms feature more calming blue accents.
Even the more movable furniture has a purpose.
“The wheels and the swivel to the chairs really help students make eye contact with everyone in the room. We need to think of furniture as a tool for learning,” Williamson said.
Students said the new classrooms help them pay attention more, make it easier to stay on top of tasks, and create a more positive energy.
Williamson said it’s not just about learning, but preparing students for the future.
“It’s what our kids will see when they leave us; when they go to college, when they go to business settings that more places are going to look like these rooms,” she said.
The new classrooms do cost more than the traditional setup, but administrators maintained the benefits are worth it.
District 225 will decide this summer how many more classrooms will get a makeover.
CBS 2 Producer Dan Kraemer contributed to this report.