What will schools look like in years to come?
When I was at school as a child, it seemed to be a fairly regular thing for teachers to ask children what schools would look like in the future. We always did this for our English lessons to encourage our creative writing and we all had to draw a picture to go with it.
I don’t remember anyone saying that schools in the future would have burnt out teachers, children getting stressed about tests and there would be no money for stationery or toilet roll.
That wasn’t our vision. We all said we’d have robots for teachers, no uniform and children would make up the rules.
We said that the playground would resemble a theme park, school would finish at 1pm and homework would be banned. We said that schools would be fun, multi-coloured and have conveyor belt runways instead of corridors.
Interestingly, we all said schools would be right-through from 3-18 years and they’d be huge, skyscraper buildings (with cinemas obviously!).
Our ideas all spoke of flipping the traditional style of schooling to something where we had a say and teachers took a back seat. We pretty much all said that the word ‘school’ wouldn’t exist but we’d have ‘learning pads’ and ‘knowledge pods’ instead and pollution would be sucked into a black hole.
No one mentioned 3D printers or the walls doubling as touchscreen whiteboards – that was technology simply out of this world!
Ask children again what they think and their answers are no less fascinating:
And what about now? Do we look at places like Lime Tree Primary Academy in Manchester for inspiration? Seen by some as a template for the future, Lime Tree Academy aims to “push the boundaries, remove the barriers and challenge the ordinary, enabling learning construction that is truly accessible for all.”
This is the place that has no corridors but instead has a village of pavilions that interact with the external environment so a Forest School ethos of outdoor teaching can be realised.
Are future schools already here and taking shape like the hyper-personalised AltSchool where algorithms are built to match children’s needs. Using Portrait and Playlist, this whole-child education approach centres on deep, authentic understanding and recognising that
Learning isn’t linear, and all children don’t learn the same way. And yet, most traditional models of education take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to learning.
But is the school of the future nothing to do with being a building? Phenomenal education sees education as “a culture of competence development, a pedagogical culture that has an active role in the development process of the information society.”
According to Jonathan Rochelle, head of product management for Google Apps for Education, by 2066 instead of needing to meet in the same physical space, children could work on long-term projects remotely and interact through online platforms thanks to virtual and augmented reality.
Some want to shun technology, others want to embrace it – there is no one ‘right’ way. I get the feeling that children know what they want and they will decide for themselves.
So next time you have a chance, ask children what they think schools of the future will look like. They might just have the answers.