Interest in flexible school furniture has skyrocketed. Between 2015 and 2018, the crowdfunding site DonorsChoose reported that requests for funds to purchase flexible furniture grew from 110 to 21,163, according to The Hechinger Report.
The idea of open-style classrooms began in the 1960s, but it has recently made a comeback as classrooms are being redeveloped to resemble modern office spaces that have collaborative space, as well as private cubbies.
Flexible furniture means that classrooms can be arranged into different configurations to accommodate individual work, group discussions or small-group projects. Teachers, however, need training to be able to effectively teach in these new classroom configurations and for them to be worth the expense, the article says.
The flex-furniture movement mirrors workplace trends that allow for different space configurations depending on the need of the moment. Cubicles in offices are heading the way of the typewriter and so are classrooms full of straight rows of desks and chairs. Most teachers now spend less time in front of the classroom lecturing. Instead, they often work alongside students as they collaborate to solve problems.
Desk-chair combos may soon become obsolete as many educational furniture manufacturers are discontinuing that model due to low demand. In some schools, students can select different seating options when they enter a classroom, such as stools or soft seating. There are even “wiggle” stools for young children that have trouble sitting still for long periods of time. Some students prefer to stretch out on the floor.
It's less likely that today's students will grow up to work on a manufacturing line or sit in cubicles all day. So it makes sense that schools are moving away from having students sit in straight rows. Students that are given seating choices are more comfortable and relaxed, which makes learning easier.