Lighting for Education Discussed by Tamlite and
The Lighting Review
At the time of writing (Spring 2021) the Big Conversation is all about getting our children back to school safely and getting their education back on-stream after a lost year caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But what do we mean by ‘education’ in this context? Is it just a case of filling heads with facts or – as many experts are saying – is it about bringing young people back into a social environment where communication skills matter as much as the Three Rs?
What do we need from the educational environment and what role can lighting play in achieving those ends?
The principles of learning are the same whether we are eight or eighty years old. We learn by observation; by interaction; by application, whether that be in the classroom, the science room, in an online teaching session, or standing in a field. Of all our senses, SIGHT plays an enormous role in understanding.
If we cannot see clearly then it becomes difficult to interpret information properly. Poor lighting makes it difficult for us to identify visual images or to read facial expressions and to interpret body language. Light supports what’s going on beyond the obvious practice of ‘learning’ by providing us with the means to see what’s going on behind the words.
How does that work in practice? How do we see to learn? More to the point . . . how do we see at all?
External stimuli is what it takes; the knowledge of things that exist outside of us that we assimilate through our senses in order to understand them. It’s reckoned that 80%+ of our sensory input is visual, with 10%+ coming via our hearing. Smell, touch and taste make up the rest. But there’s something else going on. It’s also estimated that our visual perception is made up of 80% memory and only 20% direct input through the eye. So most of our visual understanding of the world comes from our internal memory banks – we see what we remember. And that puts a lot of emphasis on us getting the direct visual input correct in the first place.
And that is where good lighting comes in. Let’s look at a few of the educational spaces that concern us.
There’s more to the modern teaching space than the conventional classroom, but visual requirements remain the same. To learn properly we need multiple inputs; its not just about staring at the white board or screen. What is equally important are our surroundings. Everything that we see and understand is seen against something else – we learn in context.
There is a cultural aspect to this as well. The quality of the learning environment also plays a huge role in how much we learn. If the UK government is serious about Building Back Better, then the educational built environment needs to be at the top of the list for improvement.
As the Italians (nearly) have it: “Give children a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” This is important stuff.
The spaces that we find lighting plays a particularly big part in are:
- Teaching Space
- Informal Social Space
- Private Learning Space
Find out more about the concerns regarding these via The Light Review article link below.