To put it simply: conventional chairs are restrictive. If you’re tall, you have to hunch over. Want to lower the chair? Too bad.
This restrictiveness gets worse when we think of how much time in the classroom environment we spend sitting in chairs.
In fact, a Time article revealed that high school students who stood in class improved their test scores by 20%.
(Not to mention, there’s a whole host of health problems associated with consistent sitting.)
The article continued to state that the human body is meant to move—we did evolve from a four-legged species to a stand-up one.
So, what can we do solve this sedentary dilemma? And what can be done to engage children in the learning process and reduce sedentary movement in the classroom?
This is where the 21st century chair comes in.
Here are the many different types of 21st century chairs and how each positively affects student-centered learning.
1. One word: swivel
Swivel stools or chairs allow students to turn easily and collaborate with their neighbors during classroom discussion.
Instead of craning their necks or contorting in awkward, unnatural positions, students can merely turn the chair while staying in an upright position.
Also, students who are feeling restless in class can swivel the chair while still being engaged in the activity.
This is especially the case for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), where a study shows that fidgeting may boost cognitive performance.
Either way, these two swivel options make the swivel chair a versatile and effective tool in student engagement.
2. Gas lift chairs
With this type of chair, height doesn’t matter.
Students can pull on the lever below the seat and adjust the height accordingly.
The caster wheels allow easy mobility and additional versatility.
Need to quickly transition to another classroom activity? Done. Just slide your chair.
3. Active sitting
Believe it or not, although sitting is normally associated with sedentary activities, it can (and should be) quite active.
Hokki stools make this possible.
The 21st century stool’s convex base encourages students to move around, while the padding underneath prevents slips or falls. Learning suddenly turns into a playful activity, where students are given the freedom to move. This movability allows students to focus on the task at hand and makes learning a fun game.
4. How about no chair at all?
Like we mentioned earlier, standing does benefit students in the learning environment.
The Times article indicated that after two months of using stand up desks, teachers and parents noticed a difference.
Teachers revealed that students related better to one another, made less extreme fidgeting movements, and took less bathroom breaks.
For parents, their children came home eager to do their homework and weren’t as stressed.
And physically, students doubled their activity compared to sitting in the classroom.
An adjustable, standing desk with no chair is a viable option, as noted in the study above, as students are free to move around while doing work.
What we recommend
Each type of chair benefits students, leading to an increase in attention and engagement in learning.
Since every student is different, it may be best to use a variety of types of chairs in the classroom.
We’re not saying go out and get a million different types.
But rather, look into chairs that combine features listed above such as chairs that swivel, offer height adjustments, have caster wheels, and allow students to fidget.
What’s important is being able to offer students chairs that they can customize to optimize their learning experience.
This is where the 21st century chair differs from the conventional.
Do you agree? Leave your comments below.