Ever since schools existed, they have reflected the state of society and its expectations represented in the space where learning took place.
Mandatory schooling starting at the time of the industrial revolution
With mandatory schooling starting at the time of the industrial revolution, at least in Europe, schools were there for one main purpose: society needed young people who were able to follow rules, understood the basics and were ready for a job in the factory (or the army), used to obey rather than speak up. Classrooms consisted of desks and benches set in rows, facing the teacher, accommodating 60 or more students, all supposed to work at the same pace.
Future for our children
As we do not want such a future for our children, we changed pedagogy – and we changed the layout of classes. Future (and actually present) jobs require team workers – so the furniture must enable collaboration and has to be flexible, as teams change. Work asks for concentrated individual solutions – so quiet outbreak areas should be available. Sharing results is key – so Smartboards, projectors and a lot of wall space are part of any contemporary learning environment.
All of it is extended through the provision of virtual space. Notes and materials are no longer stored in cupboards or carried around in heavy schoolbags – every student has his or her space in the cloud. A strong WLAN has become even more important than a high-end laptop, as tablets do the trick.
When visiting a potential new school in your future location, have a look at these aspects, check how flexible desks and chairs are – they reflect how flexible teachers in that school are which is clearly a trait needed for successful years of learning.Peter Kotrc, Director, Berlin Brandenburg International School