Learning basically refers to a process of acquiring knowledge and information through interactions with people. This process is supplemented by the environment which is a key factor in any process where information is being shared especially in a class room. Environment refers to all our external surroundings and for the purpose of this essay this definition will incorporate internal environment i.e. the psyche of the student as well as the teacher. The interaction of the two environments dictates and enhances learning. Therefore learning and environment (where this process takes place) has a symbiotic relationship.
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This essay is going to address the importance of the two environments and the kind of impact each one of them have on learning. Physical environment will address the class room environment while psychological environment looks at the role teachers, parents and colleagues play in enhancing the performance of the student. It is worth mentioning that although many people tend to over look the physical environment, it becomes very vital in analyzing student’s performance since it is one of the learning pillars.
To begin with, physical environment and the classroom environment in particular affects to a large extent student’s performance since the building have an impact on how well the students learn. Therefore it is vital to look at the classrooms buildings conditions since this is where the real learning process takes place. ‘designs of the buildings should look friendly and have agreeable entrance areas, supervised places for students, as well as public places that foster a sense of community’ [The effect of physical learning environment on teaching and learning 2006, p. 1]. In addition the color used should be very pleasing. This means that it should be a soft color in order to give student piece of mind. Attractive environment enhances better attitudes towards teaching which is good for imparting knowledge to the students.
Apart from facilitating teacher’s contribution the space of the classroom is important because it has a one on one relationship with teacher’s ability to form professional relationships between the student and the other teachers. Space also determines how well the teacher shares knowledge and information. Therefore architects should provide spacious classroom in order to accommodate the many teachers requirement. Once the classrooms are big enough teachers can use them optimally by having arrangements that will enhance a good working environment for the student and the teacher as well. Moreover, over crowded classrooms are not good since air circulation is not at its best affecting student’s concentration.
Physical environment is believed to play a role in enhancing students’ identity which is important when one is looking at students as members of the large society who should adhere to the cultural teachings of the society. Physical environment in this context thus is responsible for molding students’ emotions because it affects students cognitive and behavior developments. Therefore we are compelled to look at learning space being more than just structures since there is a social aspect in this space [The effect of physical learning environment on teaching and learning 2006, p. 3). Therefore we must build spacious classrooms which will in turn accommodate and improve social interactions and at the end of it all the students will understand their parents expectations and the power structures that are in the society which needs to be respected.
Economic well being of the family also affects learning process. This is due to the fact that poverty carries along with it a good number of packages that affect students learning at the classroom level. Students from poor background suffer from emotional trauma which makes them to be much stressed and emotionally deprived. In addition they are not aggressive and often suffer from self esteem crises. Arguing a long the same point Pellino (2007) asserts that ‘the characteristics that are lacking in poverty environment are those that help foster effective learning and academic success, emotional draining and negative self status can literally zap the motivation to learn out of children’ (p.4).
Poverty is also known for being an impediment to learning because it removes the aspect of readiness to learn in the student. This can be attributed to the social environment where the children grew up which does not give them a chance to learn on how to live in social groups. Social groups are important in shaping ones intellectual development. This makes Pellino (2007) to claim that ‘children’s who live in poverty conditions are unable to develop mutually satisfying social relationships (p.5). Thus children find themselves in a situation whereby they cannot learn their language, how to organize their perception, and solve problems. Once these aspects are lacking the student do not have the will power to prosper in academics.
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Turning on to the psychological environment we realize that teacher’s comment plays a greater part in student’s achievements. These comments may either be motivational ones or discouraging ones. Motivation is an ingredient of academic excellence. This is because it gives the student a mental boost by ‘teaching them different view of intelligence, a different interpretation of failure and orients them towards a different reason for achieving’ (Aronson, 2002, p.38). In addition motivation gives the student a long term commitment towards achievement even if there are very many obstacles a long the way. Therefore optimist and positive thinking teachers should keep on encouraging their students to keep on working even if they make a mistake once in a while since they are the main source of motivation besides parents.
In school students should also be encouraged to know who they are in order to make the most of who they are in academics. This role lies squarely on teachers since they spend most of the time with the students. Therefore teachers have to make that student understand who they are; becoming themselves. Watson et al (2007) tells us that ‘to be your self you also need to value your self, respect yourself, and stand up for your right to be yourself’ (p.20). By valuing themselves first student lays a good foundation for building their self esteem and once they have high spirits they settle easily in classrooms creating a room for academic achievement. Furthermore, once students know who they are they can easily understand their possibility and their shortcoming meaning that they can perfect their abilities and strengthen their weaknesses in order to improve their grades in school.
In conclusion learning is dependent on the environment in which the student occupies during the learning process. This environment may be divided into internal/psychological environment and physical environment. Most of the time physical environment is overlooked in favor of psychological environment yet it is important as I have outlined in my discussion. Psychological environment mostly deals with the frame of mind of the students and the teachers and once this environment is well catered for the results reflects it. Teachers and parents are being called upon to ensure that the two environments are in harmony in order to boost the performance of their students and children’s respectively.
- Aronson, J. M. (2002): Improving Academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education. California: Emarald Group publishing, p. 35-45
- Elliot, A. J. and Dweck, C. S. (2005): Handbook of competence and motivation. New York: Guilford press
- Pellino, K. M. (2007): The effects of poverty on teaching and learning.
- Watson, E. C. and Idonopulos, T. A (2007): Are you your own worst enemy? The nine inner strengths you need to overcome self-defeating tendencies at work. London: Greenwood publishing Group, p. 17-25