Shaping the Future of Classrooms: A Global Perspective
Reinventing Learning Spaces For The Creative Age Learners
We are living in a rapidly changing world with accelerating development in every aspect of life. Thus, in order to thrive on during the eras to come, we need to adopt new ways of learning and thinking. Our planet, at present, demands ‘new minds’ that are able to explore alternatives for problems that cannot be anticipated.
Dr. Howard Gardner, the Father of Multiple Intelligences, puts forth his imagination of the future as: “The genetic revolution, within all of our lifetimes, young people will go to school with gene chips which contain their entire genome and they will say to teachers and administrators – ‘These are the genes that are inactive, these are the ones that are working … teach me effectively!’ and we will not be able to ignore that plea!”
Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach. Infact, they are growing amidst the digital world, which is known to enhance the speed and breadth of knowledge. They have a limitless access to computers, video games, cell phones, the Internet and many other digital services. Thus, the way of learning must also vary to accommodate the innate differences in Gen X and Gen Y.
It is, therefore, time to say goodbye to traditional classroom spaces. The modern classroom scenarios should be flexible, and should promote collaborative social interaction. These classrooms should also be integrated with technology, and facilitate absorption of information through teacher-student engagement. Listed below are a few key features of innovative spaces that we have incorporated in our school:
- Provide aesthetically and visually stimulating environment
- Ensure creative use of space
- Allow flexibility, connectivity and comfort
- Technology-powered education
- Facilitate social and collaborative learning activities
- Provide ample space for movement and circulation
- Enable adaptability to future improvements and changes
It is true that transformation is rarely neat, comfortable or safe; it requires innovation, courage, patience, hard work and determination, guided by constant and fervent prayers. Surprisingly, the process is as important as the end result.
Shaping a future classroom involves two distinct aspects:
Raising academic standards:
- Examining new proposals to bring about reformations in the national curriculum and examination system
- Improving classroom standards by attracting teachers with high caliber and improving pupil discipline
- Setting up free schools to cover the gaps between rich and poor children
- Implementing innovative approaches in everyday schooling
- Training teachers
Raising infrastructural standards:
- Using technology to change the learning processes
- Enhancing architectural designs
- Creating a vision for future
- Building innovative campuses to incorporate 21st-century learning and teaching practices
The futuristic schools must follow certain principles for improvement. For instance, the curriculum should cater to an enquiry-based, interdisciplinary and personalised learning to ensure a learner-centric approach. Traditional professional development can be expensive for countries such as India; therefore, collaboration with professional learning communities with a shared vision can help to address key issues in teaching. Teachers and administrators should be encouraged to be collaborative and data-driven, so as to maximise the learning outcomes.
A culture of innovation and carefully examined sustainable designs would provide an edge of excellence to educational institutions. Apple Vice-President for Education – John Couch remarked, “Adults are just digital immigrants; students are digital natives. We view technology as a tool; they see technology as the environment where they live. Students today expect a learning environment that integrates digital tools. Educators must adapt to individual learning styles.” Thus, a collaborative practice of building bridges across a diverse community of stakeholders can succeed in creating exemplary educational facilities that are sure to stand the test of time.
A few years ago, school entrepreneurs had to choose between better infrastructure and better teaching-learning methods and processes. But considering the requirements of the future schools, they realised that it should be a combination of all of these. It is, therefore, important to recognise that overloaded backpacks and passive, lecture-driven classes are no longer effective for 21st-century learning, and that the adoption of digital tools for everyday learning will introduce a new culture of innovation and creativity.