Giving Compass’ Take:
• Getting Smart lists ways that we can physically design schools in order to integrate nature more: This could improve engagement among students, lower stress and lead to better health outcomes.
• How many of these tips are used in planning education initiatives? It’s essential we don’t forget about the Great Outdoors, especially as young people become increasingly drawn to screens.
Reconnecting with nature can boost our health quite quickly — starting in as little as 5 minutes. Connecting with nature is associated with myriad benefits to our wellbeing, from attention restoration, reductions in stress, improvement in behavior, memory, and cognition, better self-discipline, and even higher test scores.
It can improve focus, resilience, and cooperation and even makes us more inclined to altruistic behavior. Nature can help with ADHD symptoms as well as anxiety and depression — it generally focuses our attention, a great assist for any educator. Biophilic design is also in the spirit and service of place-based education, a practice of connecting learning to communities and the world around us.
On an intensive macro level, we can begin to realize the benefits of biophilic design through intentionality in educational settings:
- Investigations in building structure, siting, and spatial planning can result in expansive views, open-air courtyards, and accessible green roofs.
- Naturalized and extensive landscaping — Boosting tree cover can have dramatic health benefits, with just a ratio of ten per block providing a benefit.
- Use materials which change over time, because nature doesn’t like to stay the same.
- Circadian lighting helps keep our body’s rhythms in line, improving sleep and general health.
- Thermal variability carries benefits too — the stimulation of a warm or cool surface can give us better control of our environment and provide an intuitive source of comfort.
- Provide spaces which provide the opportunity for a controlled sensory experience — ones where students can provide tactile, visual, and auditory sensations in a way that provides an opportunity for a “reset” on their stimulation.
Read the full article about designing a school to combat nature deficit disorder by Ashley Bryan Flores and Lida Lewis at Getting Smart.
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