Ah! The Adolescent Years!
When architects and educators work together, the most dynamic and innovative designs are born. Aligned beliefs about learning and knowledge of the development of students make educational spaces more impactful. VLK is committed to curriculum and instruction driving the design process. Child development must always be considered as a part of that process, because the more we understand about the end user, the better we envision the spaces designed for them.
The adolescent brain is less of a mystery today. Prior to research proven over the past decade, it was believed that the brain reached full maturation during puberty. However, we now know that the brain continues to develop into the mid-20s. The teenage brain has a similar level of activity as it did when it was an infant brain. But the connections it makes are of a more complex nature, requiring it to process information at new levels without the maturation to consistently cope with the social, emotional, and cognitive vacillations that are shaping the plasticity of the brain.Knowing this, we have an opportunity as educators and architects to use the built environment to positively influence learning while both the right and left hemispheres of the brain continue to be active while acquiring skills in the arts and academics respectively.
Every new experience literally makes an impression in the brain. When we take these impressions, translate and transform them into positive learning experiences, we blend academics with the social and emotional experiences so crucial during the high school years. Extracurricular involvement in school activities is important for social development and the building of friendships that the brain craves. The spaces we create for these experiences not only support learning, but also help to make memories that can last a lifetime.
Flexible and adaptable spaces support the unique learners who are currently in our schools. We recognize that they learn differently, and that educators are preparing them for careers that have not yet been discovered or developed. Additionally, we identify with the importance of needed 'soft skills' industry leaders are requiring for the highly collaborative nature of future careers that must be developed in the high schools of today. The spaces that we design foster the types of environments that assist teachers to prepare their students for the world of tomorrow.