The Classroom of the Future

Written by Oklahoma DaVinci scholar, Director of Launch Academy, and University Guest Speaker
Imagine you are an alien, visiting a classroom
(you’ve been waiting all day to do this, I know).
Humans arrive at a designated building, place their daily supplies in a locker, and transition to a room where the sit down for around 55 minutes.  A bell rings, the humans arise in unison, and shift to another room, where they sit for another 55 minutes.  They do it all again, have a 25 minute break for speedy food consumption, and return to resume the ritual.  You think to yourself:
“How odd.”

Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you that they believe everyone learns differently, and different people have a predisposed inclination towards different subjects (duh).  However, most schools thus far have not acknowledged it in practice. This is most likely because, like anything worth doing, it’s more work, both in time and money. But look around you.  Technology is booming like never before and new information is developed EVERY DAY and delivered in an equally instantaneous way to people. This daily flood of technology and information is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant and creativity and innovation is essential to meet this issue.  Thankfully, this has recently begun to be emphasized in the classroom.

Furthermore, communication has exploded (look at all the people under 10 who have smartphones now) and the necessity for being able to work across cultures and in teams has been a product of that. Computers and calculators have further diminished the need for “formula memorization” in science and mathematics, which has been replaced with the need for critical thinking instead.

Essentially, the “how” has been replaced by the “why.”

Fast forward to the year 2100 and, of course, you’ll have bought your own lightsaber, have your own robot army, and be accustomed to an even faster-paced lifestyle than you have today. While we have some work today to get the first two, the latter is extremely probable. With this increase, adaptability and maneuverability are going to be even more crucial in the education setting. In essence, our current reform trend in education will only be amplified.
We will need more creativity, more innovation, more cultural competence, and a greater emphasis on individual learning and multiple intelligences. And, with how things are progressing, we need to get a move on it.  This is what it will look like:
Schooling would begin at an earlier age with more purposeful, individual-based manipulatives (think legos and playdoh) at the pre-k/kindergarten stage and then progress to more structured, typical learning.  This learning, starting around the 3rd grade, would grow from concrete examples during elementary and middle school (much like current textbook problems) to more real world, not-so-nice-answer problems in high school – a conscious shift from textbooks (us serving them the information and knowledge) to applications (student’s feeding the information and knowledge to themselves). This type of approach is already being done at schools like High Tech High in California.
Students would be required to pass certain exams, along with going through a portfolio presentation and exit interview at their school before graduation – this can be completed at each individual’s rate and is not contingent on a certain age or number of schooling years. The schools would be very involved not only in their community but also on a global level with sister schools in other states and countries, developing a sense of being a “global citizen.” Schools would collaborate with these sister schools not only in student exchange programs but also in virtual classroom instruction/discussion and project collaboration.
School would also be much more flexible.  You can go to school from 8-3, like most do today. Or you can go at night.  Or online.  Or a mix.  Public schools would start to look more like alternative schools (which are very flexible) and there would be a rise in specialty schools, ranging from STEM programs to Purely Art schools.  Larger school districts would start looking more like universities, with individual “colleges” for the students to go to, depending on the academic track that was aligned to their natural talents and innate passions.
Again, this futurist view is merely my viewpoint and, like the future itself, will likely change some based on events and knowledge learned. Are there any other ideas and concepts that you believe will be evident in a 22nd century classroom?
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