My course this past semester began like so many others: 14 students and I arrived every Tuesday and Thursday morning in an uninspiring space of concrete-block walls and fluorescent lighting, with few windows and fixed desks all facing forward, ill suited to the discussion-based, flipped format of the class. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, we decided to go nomadic.
We had pedagogical reasons for doing so. The course focused on how the built environment both reflects and affects our ideas about the world around us, looking at how philosophical concepts, cultural constructs, and social, economic, and environmental constraints help shape the spaces that human beings inhabit . . .
Unexpectedly, the continual change in learning environments also helped the students learn the material. Certain ideas became associated with particular locations, and recalling a space seemed to help the students remember a concept. We talked in class about how students in pre-Gutenberg Europe learned to mentally construct “memory palaces” as a mnemonic device to help them remember information attached to objects and spaces in their imagined structures.
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