Schools are places for learning. Places where the next generation is educated and prepared for the future. The current school system was designed in a different context to meet the needs of the previous century. If we want to prepare children to live and act in the future society, it is not enough to improve literacy and numeracy.
Changes in our society like globalization and digitalization together with the increasing demand of people who can innovate and collaborate means that we have to rethink education and reinvent schools.
Students need a foundation of basic knowledge, but as information can now be found anywhere it is even more crucial to know how to apply the knowledge. Practicing skills like creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration requires new school concepts that relates to the educational model and support the new way of learning.
1. Elementary Schools – Scaled to perfection
We think it is important that schools for our youngest learners provide spaces that are welcoming and ease the delicate transition from home to school. Scale may be the most important factor in creating an unintimidating and familiar space. Scale means understanding details, from the size of the furniture to the incorporation of the appropriate technology. It could also mean organizing the facility into smaller, more comprehensible components better suited to small learners.
The design of 21stcentury elementary schools requires attention to myriad interrelated issues from pedagogy and technology, cognition and perception, demographics, budget, community to cultural goals and values. The overarching need is to ensure the future of our communities by educating our children in facilities that are welcoming, safe and supportive.
2. Middle Schools – Transitional environments for engaging minds
Creating the best learning environment for the middle school years – a time when students are going through physical, intellectual, emotional and social changes – requires thoughtful design. We believe middle school facilities should provide a natural transition between the self-contained world of elementary school and the high school world that inspires both academic and personal exploration.
Research has shown that when young adolescents are engaged in their own learnings, they are much more likely to achieve at higher levels. A strong priority on collaboration, vision and culture should be placed during the planning process in order to design middle schools that promote engagement among students.
3. High Schools – Innovative environments for the opportunities of the future
Today's traditional high schools must be nimble enough to evolve into the high-performing schools of tomorrow—not only for their students and teachers but for entire communities. Secondary schools are called on to prepare students with the perspectives and skills they need to succeed in the future.
Solving real-world problems, using industry-standard tools, and enjoying mentorship by real employers, students experience sustainable growth and make lasting contributions during their formative high school years.
To introduce a new school concept is not a small operation and is of course followed by several challenges. For example, how should the projects be assessed and translated into individual grades and how can already practicing teachers adopt the new way of teaching? Rethinking schools is also highly political and includes actions on different levels. Is it possible to redesign schools on a grass root level or will it have to start from a national directive?
What will schools be like in the future? What will be considered relevant competence and how are these learned? Questions like these cannot be answered, but we can be relatively sure that schools will not be what they used to be and teaching in the future schools will not be the same as teaching has been in traditional classrooms.
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