Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The New Classroom

So I've been thinking a lot lately about my classroom, and how it may (or should/could) look as we continue into the 21st Century. For the past few years, there has been plenty of talk about 21st-Century learning, digital natives, using technology for learning, etc. These conversations and all the learning & reflection that go with them has been great...but I'm not talking about that stuff.

I'm talking about my actual, physical classroom: 4 walls, floor, desks, chairs.

And when I do this thinking, I keep coming back to this question: Does my classroom of the near future need to look & function like the city of the near future? More and more, I read about the importance, vitality, and potential for cities. Soon enough, roughly 70-80% of the population will reside in urban areas. Just as the ways of teaching from the 1800s are gone, so is the agrarian life of the 1800s. If a city is the center for creativity, ingenuity, discovery, communication, culture and learning...shouldn't the same be true for my classroom? I think the answer is a resounding yes. I recently watched this video, and have also read plenty of articles regarding the subject in publications like The Atlantic, The Economist, and others. While the video is a bit long, and all of it doesn't necessarily apply here, you could get a sense of what I'm talking about:

I feel like the visionary teacher needs to be like the visionary "mayor" for their own classroom. And while I don't (and can't) speak for administrators, it seems as though they need to be the visionary "mayors" for their schools. Where all of this starts, I'm not sure. My wish is to begin with the physical make-up of my room, and I have some ideas it that I suppose is the money, and that's always the largest obstacle. What I can control is my approach/philosophy. I can create an environment centered on collaboration, open communication, creativity, discovery and trust. We're still working on the next steps to maximize technology, but many things are in place: BYOD for students, Wi-Fi in the building (hopefully stronger/denser down the road), on-line learning and digital communication. The lines separating schools and learning from business, culture & government have blurred; this is a good thing that should be taken advantage of so my classroom 'citizens' leave more and more ready to be global citizens down the road.

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