Physical enviroment – if it’s good enough for Mourinho it’s good enough for me

Classroom Layout - Football Pitch.png

I must confess, I’m a football fan. It’s not cheap supporting a team nowadays. But if this season is anything to go by, managers are placing more and more responsibility on the atmosphere in the stadium for their team’s fortunes. This season, Jurgen Klopp has urged his team on through the media and has been joined by Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in stirring the crowd up from the sidelines.

It’s a very similar situation in the classroom. The tone of pupil performance is dictated by that of the teacher and the physical learning environment. In Robert Marzano’s (1992) book ‘A different type of classroom: Teaching with dimensions of learning’ he describes a teacher that

‘After trying to  give eye contact to students in each quandrant of the classroom, she realized that she always avoided looking at the left back section os the room. […]  Through her fifteen years of teaching […] she felt sorry for the hundreds of students who had say in that part of the room.’

In a previous post, I introduced how classroom layout is key to students understanding of their place in the class, and this is a perfect example of how it could directly affect their learning. Those students in the back of the class would miss out on a lot of eye contact and therefore a sense of acceptance into what Marzano calls the ‘class climate‘.

More worryingly, this can be considered part of the curriculum, whether intended or not. A.V. Kelly (2005) argues:

‘Implicit in any set of arrangements are the attitudes and values of those who create them and these will be communicated to pupils in this accidental and perhaps even sinister way.’

He says that often pupils are aware of these ‘social roles’ through their effects rather than through their planning. Therefore, it can be considered the ‘hidden curriculum‘.

So why is this important to a blog about international education trends? In another post, I outlined how my international colleagues and I are studying each other’s classroom layouts in our eTwinning project. These studies will hopefully throw some light on whether what we say we’re aiming for are actually the outcomes we get. And going back to the start of this article – we want to make sure that our ‘stars’ have the best possible environment to perform. Because if it’s good enough for Mourinho, it’s good enough for me.


Robert Marzano, 1992, ‘A different type of classroom: Teaching with dimensions of learning’, p21

A.V. Kelly, 2005, ‘The curriculum: theory and practice’, p5


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