Trends in Playground Design
Tom Norquist, one of the founding members of the International Play Equipment Manufacturer's Association (IPEMA) in 1995 and has served the association as the president, treasurer and secretary, was interviewed about school and campus design related to play.
Educational Environment & Recess
Norquist described how the modern educational environment puts pressure on children, especially in elementary school, to pass exams to progress through each grade level resulting in cognitive strain on the developing minds. Looking at common academic activities such as reading, writing, practicing arithmetic, and in later years, complex thought process, problem solving, and literary studies, those are all activities that require, what brain researches tell us, is their executive function in the frontal lobe of your brain. They require concentration, focus and for children to engage the frontal lobe. More broadly, the process of memorization utilizes the executive function portion of the brain, and therefore the frontal lobe.
"When we let our children get into, what I call, a state of play: some kind of a chase game or they're on an apparatus or swing and maybe they are have social interaction with their friends. When we get into this state of play it lets your frontal lobe rest. It uses millions of other connections in our brains, but it's not something that is requiring this executive function part. So, when you think about a playful campus design that last thing in the world I want to do on a playful campus is have somebody play tic-tac-toe."
As seen in LASN magazine, July 2021.