Wiki Response 10: How People Learn - Learning Environments
An important component of learning environments is the affective piece. Regardless of achievement level, socio-economic status, or level of study, students will not learn effectively unless there's a feeling of safety. In many of our inner-city schools, this safety is physical (safe from threat of abuse, safe from the dangers of the streets, etc.), but there are also psychological and cognitive safety nets that should be in place in all classrooms. Generally, these involve creating an ego-minimal and collaborative environment where learners may feel free to take risks, search for connections to prior knowledge, and make sense of the new material.
The learning environment should extend beyond the classroom. This means that school is where the modeling occurs for learning to be extended to the home or extracurricular contexts. Learners should always "be wondering" and solving problems, regardless of where they might physically be. If they are playing football, they're wondering about the trajectory of their pass. If they are waiting for the bus, they might be wondering about the effect of the hour/traffic on the frequency and punctuality of their bus. If they're buying snacks from the ice cream truck that just pulled up across the street from the school yard, they ought to be wondering about making change (or safety issues of crossing the street, etc.)
Teachers and educational leaders should strive to change the mindset of the community to see the role of the school as more than just the place for learning (in some cases, it's the de facto "day care center"). Schools is where knowledge and habits of learning are planted to be sowed elsewhere throughout the learner's life.