The Importance of Environment in Student Success

The environment has a tremendous affect upon student success, whether we are talking about the living environment (home) or the learning environment (school).

Caution: looks can be deceiving.

When we think of a student’s home environment, we many times think of the house, yard, neighborhood, etc. True, these make up a portion of the home environment, but they are not all inclusive. I have seen many beautiful homes with well manicured lawns that were located in “the good part of town” that turned out to be very poor learning environments. Many times in these homes there is discord between parents and much of that is brought on by the stress associated with the expense of keeping up such a fine looking “home”. An unhappy home is not conducive to learning.

On the other hand, I have been in homes where the house was in poor condition (but was clean) and the lawn was less than perfect and the neighborhood was less than desirable. Yet the atmosphere of the home was filled with love and joy and respect and made for an excellent learning environment.

Just as looks can be deceiving when it comes to the home environment, they can also lead us astray when it comes to the school environment. Brand new, ultra-modern schools certainly look the part; that is, they look like a good place to learn. Be careful, though, look past the furniture and equipment and new carpet – is learning taking place?

In some of today’s “new” schools we find administrators and sometimes teachers more interested in keeping the carpet clean and the paint looking new rather than in teaching. This is sad, but true. We use tax dollars to build our public schools and the public expects us to take care of their multi-million dollar investments. I can’t blame them.

By the same token, the public expects the “schools” to educate their children. After all, that is what the school is for. And the educational process takes place IF the student is willing to learn; IF the school has the support of parents and guardians; IF administrators and teachers focus on the student body rather than on the real estate.

I have been in many “dilapidated” schools where learning was taking place daily. Learning was taking place because the parents expected the school to teach and the teachers expected the students to learn. AND, the students were aware of these expectations and knew what was expected of them.

Yes, the environment has a tremendous affect on learning. But it is the nurturing environment; the loving, caring, and sharing that goes on that has the most impact, NOT the physical environment. It’s attitude, not architecture that influences students to the greatest degree.