A teacher contracts with a school. Perhaps, it is remote from major cities. Perhaps, it is simply a school struggling to retain staff. Maybe the teacher negotiates a contract with a certain amount of flexible freedom in the classroom. And here is a question to start the inquiry.
What if the above teacher’s classroom is arranged in a manner unorthodox to the traditional columns and rows of desks or similar table-grouping arrangements. Supposing the classroom is built around computers connected to the internet and possessing the typical interface of mouse and keyboard, though with the added feature of voice-command recognition.
The teacher decides to make computers relatively scarce. Maybe there are two or three smart notebooks, and four or five computers, one printer and a SmartBoard.
In this classroom, priorities are flipped. Instead of traditional instruction comprising a majority of the school day, only one hour is comprised of this and other whole class or independent work completed by students.
With one special for organized physical education, that leaves four hours fifty minutes for facilitation by the teacher as students are carefully guided to research areas of interest.
Twenty minutes would be set aside for the following independent or whole class work: direct mathematical instruction, reading logs/scribing classic text, and reflective writing related to students’ own evaluation of their progress.
The rest of the school day would then be dedicated to students’ finding their interests, becoming experts, designing something novel and useful to their community and beyond, and working to earn funds for the materials/resources necessary for engineering their product, service, etc.
Computers would be scarce, as per the findings of Sugata Mitra, who noted a necessary social element for emergent learning to occur.
This American teacher’s classroom would not look traditional. It would be comprised of four or five pod-centers (each student would yet retain possession of their own home-space within a desk in one of the pods). The classroom would hold an extensive library against all the classroom walls, save those with windows (windows are an important connection students have between school experience and what is going on outside).
The key would be that students would be sharing computers, as opposed to assigning one computer per student.
THIS is how I imagine the future of education looking–I imagine this as the new norm, when we walk into American classrooms.
Teachers must work as facilitators. They may do this in three ways.
- Teachers may empirically monitor student pursuits by entering them into a notebook spreadsheet, or other organizational format, and use what is happening to guide students toward meaningful pursuits with tangible ends.
- Teachers may provide teams with BIG QUESTIONS–questions that may seem impossible for youngsters to solute.
- Teachers must facilitate team projects, such as maximum-minimum design projects for such coveted items as student-created playgrounds, optimal learning environments, or computer coding fomenting in youngsters ideas for useful, new phone apps; or teachers may suggest employing creative imagination for coordinating a field excursion that most adults would likely descry improbable for students to nail down.
- I realize I mentioned three, but here is another important piece–let students know how impossible their proposals are–how the adult world would certainly be dismayed were they to succeed in their outcomes. This is a powerful group motivator and team builder–“us against the odds.”
- I may as well add the obvious. The teacher is vigilant, advocating for all students, keeping social conflict from festering into obstacles that only work against team accomplishments. The teacher’s must ensure that all students play a role that is meaningful to them. Check this out: http://www.wales.ac.uk/en/NewsandEvents/News/Quality-News/Google-Classroom.aspx And this: https://edu.google.com/intl/en_uk/ In short shouldn’t the schools for our youngsters look different than they currently look–I mean, if you live in tornado alley, let’s admit it: the schools look eerily like, ehem, (prisons). Here are some pics we may all enjoy learning to live with, yet it will be our teachers as facilitators to the natural emergent learning our students possess within them to fund our own schools. We need to change our traditional view of what schools ought to look like!