When it comes to learning, environmental factors can make a big difference to students of all ages. However, while we tend to consider things like lighting, colour, furniture, audio stimulants, indoor plants and layout, there’s another less visible factor that can also influence a learning environment for better or worse: air.
An invisible influence on education
As recent research has verified, the temperature of an educational environment directly impacts students’ capacity to concentrate, absorb and retain information. According to a Harvard study, exposure to extreme heat can cause physical challenges (cardiovascular and thermoregulation), cognitive difficulties (acquiring and retaining information) and even emotional issues (motivation and negative feelings towards set tasks). The drop in students’ performance was significant too – with student achievement dropping by the equivalent of 1% of a year’s worth of learning for each additional degree (Fahrenheit) the temperature rose.
Why does heat have such an impact on our ability to learn? Well for a start, studies have shown that when a classroom is too hot, the brain is constantly reminding the body to do something about the temperature, and because of this constant interruption, it’s harder to focus. But it’s not just students who are impacted by heat – teachers also struggle, meaning less energy is put into the lessons they’re teaching, and less attention is given to their students. Similarly, studies have demonstrated that when the temperature in a classroom is too cold, tasks that require sustained attention are a struggle.
Office workers are similarly affected by air temperature and quality, with studies suggesting that the optimal temperature is between 22-25 degrees Celsius. Keeping this indoor climate consistent is important too, as fluctuating temperatures affect both productivity and health. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has struggled to focus in a stuffy, overheated office, or constantly battled colds in an overly chilly space!
How the humble air conditioner can help
While we can’t do much about the weather outside, there is a very simple solution for the classroom climate issue: air conditioning. Whether it’s in a classroom, home study or office, the right air conditioner can ensure that the temperature stays just right for learning – and it can also address issues such as humidity and indoor air quality (IAQ) too. With as many as 16.9% of infants experiencing asthma or wheeze in their first three years of life, and 4.1% of non-asthmatic children aged from 4-5 developing asthma by the age of seven*, IAQ in Australia isn’t something that should be ignored. This is why the National Asthma Council Australia initiated Sensitive Choice: a community service program that aims to educate people about the importance of managing their asthma and allergies. The program also encourages companies to make products and services that are more asthma and allergy aware – and we’re proud to say the Daikin split systems are the only air conditioners to have received Sensitive Choice approval.
Around the world, schools have started to implement and rely on air conditioners to help students achieve their best. Now in Japan, almost half the classrooms in both public and private schools are equipped with air conditioning units, and in the UK (where the issue is battling the cold), air conditioners are used to keep classrooms comfortable, so kids can focus for longer.
Keeping our cool in Australian classrooms
With more and more air conditioners being installed in classrooms around the country, teachers are able to control air temperature to ensure it’s consistently conducive to learning. Air conditioning units are especially important for schools in the rural and regional areas, giving teachers the flexibility to teach more mentally demanding lessons during the hottest part of the day, which was often a struggle before. What’s more, students actually look forward to returning to the cool classroom after their lunch break.
The NSW government has also recognised the role air conditioning is playing in schools and is funding the Cooler Classrooms Program as a result. If you have children in a NSW school, and would like to see if your child’s school is eligible, you can find more information here.
Education doesn’t end at school
It’s great to see schools taking the temperatures in classrooms so seriously but it’s important to also consider the climate at home too. With homework and studying playing a big role in education, being able to focus in the home environment is just as critical. Why not arrange for an obligation free, consultation with a Daikin specialist dealer? The dealer can visit your home and help you work out the best solution for your space. You can book an appointment right here.
*Sourced from a report done by the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness (AIHW).