Some think that today’s schools need a major makeover, from design to curriculums. We have 5 predictions on what the school of the future could look like.
From ages five to eighteen, kids spend more time in classrooms than they do anywhere else—but today’s schools and curriculums are not necessarily designed with their health, or their interests in mind.
Just this week, Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of Steve Jobs, announced a $50 million project to rethink high school in the U.S. The initiative, XQ: The Super School Project, is asking both educators and students to submit plans for a new, improved school. Powell has said, “There is a huge gap between what students want for their future and what their schools are offering.” There are studies to back her up. When Google surveyed students, parents, principals, and teachers across the U.S., they found that schools don’t think a demand for the STEM subjects is there, despite the fact that students and parents clearly want those kinds of subjects.
This is of course far from the only problem with current school and curriculum designs. Battles are being waged over school lunches and the obesity epidemic, and there’s a debate over school start times that seems never ending. So what does the school of the future look like? We dug into current trends and initiatives to come up with five predictions:
1. Designed to Fight Obesity
While that battle against childhood obesity (and the fight for who controls the lunch tray) rages on in the cafeteria, other schools are taking a vastly different approach to healthy schools: a complete redesign. One rural Virginia elementary school has been completely redesigned with a focus on fighting obesity. The school kitchen is optimized for fresh foods, and a school garden supplies a kid-safe teaching kitchen. Meanwhile, “inviting stairways” and walking paths keep students more active, and even furniture is designed to keep them moving. The design guidelines for the school are available for free to others who want to implement the changes.
2. Optimized for Coworking
Students may sit together in class, but after school their efforts often switch drastically to independent working—something that some believe isn’t benefitting everyone. The Canvas is a coworking space for teens, created and built by teens. Launched by four teenage girls in Hawaii, the organization aims to give academics a more social setting and provide peers a place to get together to share and execute their goals and aspirations. The Canvas surveys high schools across Honolulu to find out what students want to learn more about, and then organizes teachers and other professionals to give free presentations and events. The young women hope to expand The Canvas to other locations to give more students a cool space to work in and find peer encouragement.
3. Digitally Connected
Technology is changing what is learned at school and how it’s taught, and education could change dramatically in the next five years. In 2020, students could be connecting with those outside of the classroom, not just by sneaking texts, but digitally interacting with other teachers, students, and experts like authors and scientists to enhance lessons. Remote digital interactions can expand the kinds of lessons that students are taught, and the experience and knowledge they are exposed to.
4. Modular Classes
Although learning to cook can help kids to choose a healthier diet, budgets have eliminated home economics from many schools, and elementary and middle schools are even less likely to have kitchens for students to use. But what if the kitchen could come to them? The Charlie Cart is a low cost mobile kitchen that aims to solve that problem, and teach kids to cook in order to fight childhood obesity. The kit, which was co-designed by an Edible Schoolyard Project teacher, can accommodate a class of 30 and includes everything from cutting boards to a sink. This kind of modular, mobile classroom could make culinary education (and potentially other courses) more available to more students.
Mobile tech is allowing some students to spend less time in classrooms, and more time in stimulating environments like museums, parks, and even coffee shops. A growing number of educational “experiments” in the U.S. are using smartphones to make learning more mobile, and some believe that the methods will “redefine” K-12 schooling. One project, called Ecomobile, guides students through ecosystems via smartphones, and uses GPS to point out various elements around them. The classroom-free school experience will become more possible as time goes on and mobile tech (and WiFi) becomes even more affordable and ubiquitous.