Should We Discard the Notion of the Classroom? [SLIDE]

At Educon this year, David Jakes — a guy who pushes my thinking more than most — said something that still hasn’t fully settled in my mind:

(download slide and view original image credit on Flickr here)

So whaddya’ think?  Are the preconceived notions that we all have about what classrooms are supposed to be holding us back — preventing us from really redefining what schools are all about?

Another question:  Does the traditional architecture of schools — both physical and mental (think self-contained classrooms holding 30 kids for 50 minutes at a time) — discourage learning and reinforce schooling?

Final question:  What will it take for nontraditional definitions of “classrooms” and “learning spaces” to be fully embraced?



Related Radical Reads:

 Should We Be Engaging or Empowering Learners?

Are YOU a What If Thinker?

What If Schools Created a Culture of Do?

8 thoughts on “Should We Discard the Notion of the Classroom? [SLIDE]

  1. M. Stewart

    This post is quite eye opening, to say the least. Yes, on one hand when it comes to education, there is a notion that all students should learn in the same way, and same environment, and attain the material in the same amount of time. We are all different and that is one thing to really box the students in a classroom. However, with all this talk of losing the classroom, I am not in total agreement. Anywhere can be a classroom, as stated by someone above, but structure at some point in time is also very important.
    There has to be a practical (hands-on) aspect, as well as a structured forum to gauge progress. I mean, what good would it do to go to school for so long and not gain anything because there was no standardized test, and so everyone was believed to know up to a certain level. Yes, they are a lot more tests coming out, and that can be an issue, but to fully remove it from the educational environment would be detrimental to our society. Am I saying don’t go out to the stores and businesses and hospitals for a practical insight into what it’s really like in “real world”, no. But, with all the necessary resources out there, it is not the structure of the classroom at stake, but more of the “standard” approach thrown at students.
    The world is ever-evolving classroom. Learning based on networking is good as well as preparing students for life, rather than college, is a very good point to harp on because, college is NOT meant for every individual. Contrary to popular belief, that schools are selling, working with the degree that you got out of college is not usually the way it goes for many people out there. So, to focus on gaining admission into an institution that may not be one’s goal is totally not productive for that individual at the end of the day. Thinking outside the box is great, but it’s better to start from somewhere.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      M Stewart wrote:

      Thinking outside the box is great, but it’s better to start from somewhere.


      I like this, M. Reminds me of Steven Johnson’s suggestion that sustainable change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It starts at the edges of the box, not out of the box.

      Thanks for the contribution,

  2. Ken C.

    I am hardly a traditionalist. Of course good ideas can and do happen in hallways. On the other hand, if thousands of people decided they’d meet in the narrow halls of, say, a Sheraton (the rooms of which many classes were held at the recent NCTE convo in Boston), you’d have chaos, not mental stimulation. The notion is kind of funny to envision. (Well, funny to me anyway… see, I’m learning in the space of a few sentences here.)

    I’m a little out of line and out of place here, talking where people don’t know me — even virtually — from Adam. Sorry for the misunderstandings from last night’s post. To show my good intentions, I’ll leave (instead of take) my ball and go home now like a good kid should.

  3. Pingback: Discarding the Classroom | My Blended Learning

  4. Ken C.

    Haven’t we been here before, with the “open classroom” concept of the 19… um… well, one of those decades in the rearview mirror? Elsewhere, I also read someone’s suggestion that the happening place for learning at big ed. conventions is the hallway. You know. Where teachers stop and chat with teachers they know. And block traffic. And do all the things teachers tell students not to do while *they’re* in the hallways.

    So yeah, let’s go outside. And to businesses (knock, knock, knock — “Hello! I’m HERE! With 25 excited kids! Hello? HELLO!?!?”). And to stores (we can deconstruct window displays and how Whole Paycheck lays out its floorplan with all the fresh flowers up front and the displays of ice in the produce section).

    I’d also like to get the kids out of the classroom and into an NCAA March Madness Regional… preferably one where UConn is seeded. We can discuss price gouging and work on arguments pro and con about paying and/or unionizing student athletes — and on the NCAA itself, while we’re at it. You know. NCAA as Boss Tweed-style organization cloaked in “student-learners”-clothing.

    Hmn. I started off opposed, but now I’m beginning to see some reason in David Jakes’ “what’s old is new” idea….

    1. David Jakes

      @KenC: Interesting arguments you make, although I’d consider them more if they weren’t a sad attempt at sarcasm. I’m not advocating for open classrooms, I taught in those and they didn’t work. But what I’m talking about is to rethink the language of school, and not allow old language to limit thinking by using the same containers. For example, I’m not asking to go to businesses or the NCAA tournament, but I am asking what happens when you discard tired notions of the same space, and say, shift from a classroom to a studio in a school? What does that shift engender? What happens there? What does it look like? Might there be something different? Old is new? Seriously? Oh, you might want to check out Bill’s really great slide that relates to your position:

      1. Ken C.

        Sorry, David, if that’s the way it came across. In fact, I was trying to articulate my initial reaction to “discarding the notion to classrooms” (read: uh-oh, does he mean the open classroom?) and then show its natural progression as I thought it out. Thus, the finish, where I thought there might be something to it because, you know, it WOULD be interesting for kids to unlock the design of a grocery store and it WOULD be cool to see how all the excitement and adrenaline of an NCAA regional masks some unfair practices to “student-athletes.”

        But the Internet is a poor conductor for tone and humor, and I’m sure, were those words delivered in person (and perhaps elaborated upon better), your impression would be a bit different. Or at least I HOPE it would be.

        And yes, I’ve seen Bill’s slides and a lot of other stuff he puts out. I follow him on Twitter for that very reason. I consider his ideas thoughtful and worthy of our profession.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. Sorry again if you put your ear to the shell and heard sarcasm. When will I ever learn… (channeling Mom’s voice from wayback!).

    2. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Ken wrote:

      I also read someone’s suggestion that the happening place for learning at big ed. conventions is the hallway. You know. Where teachers stop and chat with teachers they know. And block traffic. And do all the things teachers tell students not to do while *they’re* in the hallways.

      – – – – – – – – – –

      Hey Ken,

      Some gentle intellectual push back, here: I see a lot of really traditional notions about schooling in this statement. You suggest that “talking in the hallways” is automatically bad and that teachers are (or should be) yelling about that on a regular basis. You also suggest that the primary role of a learner is to get in the room and be ready to learn and that people who “block the way” are bad.

      That sounds a lot like valuing schooling — following the rules, listening to the teacher, making your way to the classroom — over learning. Isn’t it possible that the people having social interactions in the hallway really MIGHT be learning, too? And isn’t it possible that if we intentionally created spaces — both physical and mental — for kids to have more of those kinds of conversations that they could be learning, too?

      Do we lose anything when the assumption is that getting in the room is more important than finding people to connect with?

      Just thinking aloud here,

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