Winston Churchill once said “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
In the last ten years, there’s been a huge push to redesign and beautify the spaces students learn in. Teachers started implementing flexible seating on their own, Starbucks became a flagship model for classroom design and started a Twitter trend to #ditchdesks.
This push to reconsider the look of the classroom doesn’t just please some teacher’s right-brain-inclined inner aesthete — it’s been well-researched as an advantageous pedagogical shift to increase efficacy and performance in schools.
One such study, undertaken by The University of Salford in 2015, provided conclusive evidence that the physical characteristics of a classroom — like air quality, color and light — can increase the learning progress of primary students by as much as 16 percent in a single year. Compounded, the effects can be much more.
“The most powerful impact is made by the physical design of the particular classroom in which they spend such a vitally important time with their teacher,” said John Coe, Chair of the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE).
The Eiffel Tower is the result of a competition in 1889 for monument plans during the World’s Fair. Today, it is the most visited paid monument in the world.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to us — historically, society has valued, if not prioritized, exceptional architecture, prominent public installations and “civic beauty” zones for the betterment of every citizen’s well-being. Our physical spaces are reflections of who we are and the aspirations of who we want to become.
In the Architecture of Happiness, an exploration of the evolutionary impulse to build and beautify, Alain Botton said, “…at its most genuine, the architectural impulse seems connected to a longing for communication and commemoration, a longing to declare ourselves to the world through a register other than words, through the language of objects, colors and bricks: an ambition to let others know who we are — and, in the process, to remind ourselves.”
Beauty allows us to express who we are and who we hope to be. Beauty has the potential to create meaning in our lives — and the classroom is no exception.
It would make sense then that the place in which students spend an average of eight hours each day (the classroom) be beautiful. Thing is, there’s somewhere else they are spending just as much time that hasn’t been as considered in research and funding: the internet.
“No one is immune to bad design.” John Cary
Ten years ago we may have been straddling the analog and digital divide, but today, we are fully immersed in both. There seems to be little no division between how we live our lives off and online — two worlds have become one. And just as beauty and good design are deeply powerful forces in the “real world,” so they are in the digital one.
An 8-12-year-old spends an average of six hours online each day, while high schoolers are spending nearly nine. Students are spending as much time in digital spaces as they are in physical ones, which means it’s time to take the design and intention of our digital tools seriously. There are very few educational technology business willing to dedicate the time it takes to develop thoughtful technology, and bulb is trying to change that.
bulb is in the beauty business.
We take design seriously, because we believe it’s the foundation of quality education, not the cherry on top. We know beautiful tools inspire beautiful work and beautiful work changes the world. This is why everything about how bulb functions has been thought through with an eye for beauty, an affinity for good design and a belief that the beautiful will save the world.
Our digital environments, just like our physical ones, remind us who we are and, as architect John Cary put it, “literally shape our ideas about who we are in the world and what we deserve.”
bulb began with one big idea for education which was to make things beautiful. We are firm believers that beautiful platforms dignify the work students and educators are creating and we set out to create the mother of them all. We’re even crazy enough to think beautiful work can save the world.