Entering the room – I tried to create an environment that was different from any thing people were use to. Lights were shut off. Candles were scattered. Tables were covered with kraft paper from Montana’s Restaurant. Crayons were distributed for doodling. Music like U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” played.
I did this not because it was cool, or even for ambiance, but to help break people out of routines. Leading educators tell us that when people enter what is known as a ‘classroom’, after years of being a part of stale educational institutions our brains simply disengage as we sit down for more of the same old.
On a side note, in university during the rare moments I attended class, I fought desperately to stay awake. Quite honestly I had just about a hundred percent hit ratio of not making it to the end of the lecture conscious.
I would sit up at the front of the class hoping I would stay attentive fueled by the guilt of falling asleep directly in front of the professor. It didn’t work.
I would try to engage myself by furiously writing notes, just to keep my hands moving, only to wake up finding sentences that turned to gibberish as my pen slid down the page.
What I finally discover did work, was snacking on chips and high-sugared drinks, and even that failed to work at times. I recall loading up a hot dog with the works before class, and waking up discovering a trail of toppings running down my jacket with the hot dog in my lap!
How else might we create environments where people are creatively engaged?
Here’s an interesting link I just found on developing brain-compatible classrooms.