Creating Space to Learn

Great Hearts America August 2, 2022

Empty classroom being set upThe pursuit of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful translates through to every aspect of Great Hearts academies.  This philosophy carries throughout, even into the strategies behind how classrooms are set up.  Teachers have spent countless hours over the last few weeks of summer reviewing the curriculum, attending training, and preparing their classrooms to welcome our scholars.  While very few will ever notice or truly appreciate the thought and intentionality that is put into every object placement, we do know that our ability to learn is greatly impacted by the environment around us.

Let’s explore some of the ideologies and guidelines that are given to teachers when setting up their classrooms.

  1. Orient scholars away from distractions
    Classroom and community spaces at the academies are oriented toward the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.  Distractions are minimized by eliminating clutter or items that are not functional or aesthetic.  The structured environment facilitates trust, community, and joy.
  1. Everything in its place
    Furniture and supplies are arranged for the best possible interactions. Boundaries allow the space to communicate and facilitate proper activity such as how desks are placed in an archway classroom or how the tables are arranged for conversation in the Humane Letters classes.  A place where each student can explore Truth, practice Good, and encounter Beauty.
  1. Décor should be aesthetically pleasing
    Wall décor in the classrooms covey a sense of order and are relevant to the content being studied such as maps, charts, or works of an exemplar.  Sacred spaces are created in which the noblest and most lasting things are present and in proper balance.  You will not find mass produced posters or poorly produced cartoon characters on the walls.  If students are going to stare at it for hours, it should be worth staring at for hours.
  1. Core Virtues on display
    Humility, Wisdom, Friendship, Integrity, Citizenship, Courage, Perseverance, Honesty, and Responsibility are present in our archway classrooms and framed or displayed prominently in a beautiful way with the dignity of the virtue itself.  Each virtue is aligned with art or an image that aligns with that virtue.

    Core Virtues displayed on wall

While this list may initially seem overwhelming or even restrictive to a new teacher, it is the care and attention to detail that makes the academic and social experience at Great Hearts so special.  The aesthetic uniformity of the space does not translate into dull experiences.  These spaces communicate the message of high education and celebrate high culture.

The simplicity and consistency of each classroom allows for the true beauty of learning to shine through.  Great Hearts does not seek to fill the minds and hearts of the scholars with outside noise, pop culture, motivational slogans, or trending commercial images.  Classrooms and hallways feel like museums with galleries of fine art created by some of the great artists of the Western Tradition and other images depicting memorable moments throughout history.

It is this creation of sacred and humane spaces throughout our academies that elevate the classical education experience at our revolutionary schools.

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