Archive for ‘school’

January 19, 2015

Kindergarten Design: Buildings That Encourage Development

Pedagogical traditions seem to be very interested in the effects that environmental factors have on (small) people.  Over a century ago, some models like Montessori and Waldorf, which have influenced mainstream kindergarten practice as well, started promoting the idea that a great deal of attention should be put into the fabrics, the materials,  the colors and  the overall organization of spaces for children.

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Fuji kindergarten exterior; photo by 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia

Since I work in a kindergarten as a psychologist one day a week, I recently had the opportunity to learn more about the psychology of spaces for children. Our small kindergarten was about to get a budget-friendly makeover and we were all asked for opinions. I spent a lot of time looking for research-based guidelines for kindergarten design, as well as coordinating everyone’s personal preferences. Here I would like to share some of the findings, and  some inspiring examples and other resources I found.

 

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October 14, 2014

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses – part III (Sustainability)

The topic of how people affect the environment makes up one half of the environmental psychology’s story. It is a Yin to its Yang, the complimentary field to the topics of how the environment (both natural and built) affects us. Many studies in environmental psychology target the attitudes and behavior concerning sustainability and climate change, the big issues that transcend the limits of just one science. That is why the third part of my Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses series focuses specifically on these topics. It was very easy to find many promising courses, which is, I believe, due to the fact that many people find sustainability and climate change important and worth learning about. Here are my finds:

introsus

 

introsus 1. Introduction to Sustainability at Coursera

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July 31, 2013

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses

Something I was hoping for some time now is coming true. I’m very excited about the idea of free education available to all  that’s successfully being translated into action through web services such as Coursera and EdX (and other Massive online open courses). Since I work in education myself, I find it very inspiring to be able to”attend” lectures by different experts in different fields from all around the world. I realize again and again how much I love learning (and miss college sometimes) and often remember how some of the great professors I had throughout my education made a big impact on me by expanding my horizons and transferring their enthusiasm for their subjects to us students. This is why I often find myself trying to follow more online-courses than my time permits (and successfully finishing much less), but enjoying nonetheless.

by saikofish

University of Pennsylvania campus in fall; photo by saikofish

Only 3 months ago I was e-mailing to all the environmental psychology departments that offer doctoral programs which I wrote about before (at Surrey, Irvine, Brasilia, CUNY, Rome and Cornell) to ask if they were planning to  offer some environmental psychology related online courses . Most of them politely answered there wasn’t  any such plans for near future. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to learn that among many online courses University of Pennsylvania provides through  Coursera, there’s a new one about Designing Cities  that could be interesting to anyone who likes environmental psychology.

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March 25, 2013

Great Places to Get a PhD in Environmental Psychology: #3 The World’s Crossroads

Even though small towns and pre-planned communities I wrote about before offer an interesting context for any environmental psychologist, the appeal of big cities is undeniable. That’s why I’ll research options for a PhD in environmental psychology in two capitals of the world – one traditional and one contemporary – Rome and New York.

Rome panorama; photo by Giampaolo Macorig

It’s hard not to feel like a fragile creature with short expiration date while walking amid stone edifices that stood as silent witnesses of human history for over 2 thousand years. That’s just my experience of the historic center of Rome (listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site), anyway. The feeling is not bad, though. Even without tour guides and guide books, just being there feels like an incredibly enriching learning experience. An experience that is beyond words, for after all, buildings don’t speak in words. Yet somehow, they might be  telling us more about mankind than you’d learn from psychology books.

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October 27, 2012

Great Places to Get a PhD in Environmental Psychology: #2 Pre-planned Cities

Building a pre-planned city is as close as we came to creating a world of our dreams. Or somebody’s dreams, anyway. That’s why I see those places as very stimulating for environmental psychologists. It makes you wonder how people respond to such environments. At first glance, the wholeness of a single vision transferred into reality is just impressive. One can assume that pre-planned communities feel very comforting and safe due to their high levels of  order, coherence and predictability.

Masdar City, UAE; photo by iied.org

Take a look at some of the futuristic dreams coming true at the moment – Tianjin in China, the zero-carbon, zero-waste Masdar in United Arab Emirates, or few others from all over the world. Not surprisingly, emphasis on sustainability is the key feature in all cities of the future mentioned above – green is a must at the moment. With good reason.

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July 10, 2012

Great Places to Get a PhD in Environmental Psychology: #1 Tradition

Needless to say to those who, like me, wish to pursue a doctoral study in it, environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field dealing with relations between humans and their environment. Its core idea is that where something happens matters, in a way that the environment influences how people feel and think and what they do. So, if you’re about to make a decision about getting a PhD in EnvPsych, you may want to make a choice consistent with the discipline by considering carefully where you’ll study it.

A look at people and their environment – natural, built and social; Slope day at Cornell University; photo by foreverdigital

It’s important to note that the environment can be defined very broadly, including  natural environments, built environments and social settings. Also, learning environments and informational environments are especially interesting in this context.

I decided to write a series of posts on some great places to get a PhD in environmental psychology by the following criteria:

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September 19, 2011

Increasing Classroom Personalization – 8 Easy Projects to Try

In order to give students opportunities to express themselves within school environment, without scribbling on their desks, or carving their names into trees in school yard, I’m sharing some ideas that Maxwell and Chmiewski (2008) offered to teachers who participated in their study of effects of classroom personalization on children self-esteem (more here).

photo by cayoup

Even though these ideas were intended for kindergarteners and first graders, some of them are transferable to older students as well. They are inexpensive, easy and fun for young children. Here they are… (inspiring photos included!)

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September 19, 2011

Classroom Personalization and Young Children’s Self-esteem

Recently I wrote about how much it matters for pupils to see, from environmental cues, that they are important in school and how it can affect their academic performance. And, no doubt about it, many teachers do their best to make learning environment cozy, interesting and stimulating for their students.

photo by Kathy Cassidy

However, sometimes when we’re doing something for the children we often tend to do things instead of them. For instance, if you let your toddler choose their outfit, or let your teenager decide on decorating their room, it can be hard not to interfere, and not to push choices that seem better to you. Yes, it’s good to let children know what you think are good choices for them, but there needs to be some space in their lives where they can practice freedom of choice, and consequences and responsibilities that come with it. To do their own mistakes, and learn from them. To leave the trace of who they are at the moment. That’s why teachers might do well by sharing responsibility for environmental adjustments in classroom with their students.

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