It's a new day . . . and now here are some new ways to change the atmosphere in our classrooms as we attempt to encourage our kids in their pursuit of wisdom . How many students are actually aware that the origins of the word “student” date back to the Latin verb “studio“ which means to be eager . So unless you spent your early years pouring over and reproducing all those magical illuminated manuscripts in some remote wind swept monastery you'd probably not be aware of the sense of adventure , enthusiasm , and creativity that sparked this artistic renaissance. 

Yes indeed education has the potential to be oh so enjoyable . . . what with our entire universe now at our doorstep . The use of all the fantastic video presentations of the natural world , our history , the myths , the music , and the art now at our disposal can open totally new worlds to our children . And what can we do to create the ideal setting to explore these “disciplines” ?

So it was with great interest that I checked out the following story in the Toronto Globe and Mail on Saturday , January 30 , 2016. Here are some excerpts from this article . 

no more desks

no more chairs

no more students' empty stares 

Can bean bag chairs and exercise bikes help struggling kids focus at school ? Caroline Alphonso (you can follow her on Twitter : @ calphonso) reports on an initiative in Brampton that dismantles the traditional classroom . 

Many of the eight , nine , and ten year-olds in MS. Lewis Young's class , in Brampton , are considered high-needs students , some formally diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder , others suffering from behavioral issues that have led them to the principal's office , or worse , to a suspension . It's a challenge Ms. Lewis-Young is addressing head-on by dismantling the traditional classroom and replacing the rows of hard desks and chairs with bean bag seating , an exercise bike , and special stools that allow active kids to sit and wiggle , as well as softening the overhead lighting with filters , and using yoga and dance to relieve tension. 

The thinking - and anecdotally it appears to be working - is that by addressing the emotional state of these students , by allowing them a chance to regulate their behavior and calm themselves , they will be more willing to learn . 

Research suggests that Ms. Lewis Young's technique in her Grade 3 and 4 split classroom at Massey Street Public School is on the right path . For kids who learn differently , a traditional classroom reinforces those differences . More variety leads to a better chance of academic success , says Jeff  Kugler , an education equity consultant and former executive director of the Centre for Urban Schooling at the University of Toronto  . 

Launched this school year ,  the Massey Street School project is the brainchild of Ms. Lewis-Young , and her colleague , Michelle Philpot , who teaches a similar-styled Grade 2 and 3 split classroom next door . The pair were inspired after reading “Calm , Alert , and Learning” , a book written by York University professor Stuart Shanker , who also heads the MEHRIT Centre , an organization that works with parents and educators to assist children in self-regulating their behaviour . The book explores different methods of helping children cope with stressors . The two teachers received input on the physical changes made to the classrooms from the school-board’s occupational therapist before drawing up their proposal . 

The initiative at the Peel District School Board could improve learning across the country for children with behavioral issues . 

Indeed , and not only that . There are in fact all kind of changes possible to improve conditions in our classrooms for all our students : anywhere from a  new-world Aristotle's Circle where rocks and logs are simply replaced with humble hassocks filled with polystyrene beads . . . once again encouraging the exchange of ideas . . . to bean bag chairs that allow you to sit at any angle , at every possible level  .  .  .  and with perfect support .   In order to achieve maximum comfort and longevity with these chairs consult the use and maintenance and bean bag recycling pages.

You can also create a similar low level relaxed ambiance with our raft systems and other lounging - seating environments made of laminated high density foams and feather or chipped foam pillows . These concepts work particularly well in rooms with low ceilings , can be raised up on pedestals , designed to the height of the windows . . . and of course also customized to fit entire spaces . In our experiments with these varying types of seating we were surprised to find that the height that you sit at actually determines your mood . To see some of our other interesting foam designs , designs that can also be incorporated into variable video spaces ,

Needless to say , it goes without saying , that an in depth study of all kinds of seating is definitely in order , depending of course , on the function of the “exercise” you are engaged in.

Other factors you may find instrumental in determining the mood of a “room” are the type of lighting , dimmer switching , the color of the walls , the positioning of the windows and skylights , the use of carpets and wall hangings . . . which incidentally can also affect the acoustics of the space , the background music , the temperature and the humidity , and of course the traditional standby , the . . . you already got it . . .  the spritzer and the plants .

Caroline Alphonso in her above dissertation mentioned the use of a tent and lenses to cut the glare of those ubiquitous neon ceiling fixtures . These lights are the scourge of the “workplace” , and are sometimes even revved up to cool blue instead of a more soothing toned down golden light . . . in order “ to keep the troops alert”. Interestingly our work with fabric ceilings have shown that the color of the lens or the fabric determines the color of the light in the space , and is thus quite significant in creating a stress free environment. 

You see it's really all quite simple . . . and we're already well on our way to creating wonderful places filled with many happy little faces . . . with quiet rooms , libraries , pools and splashy activity areas , gymnasia , arboreta , and all kinds of other inspirational multi-level open spaces . And what a pleasure just to be there . . . let alone worrying about . . . and waiting for the bell.