What if we asked kids what they wanted their classrooms to look like? What their school features should be? After all, many of us are trying to teach 21st Century kids in the confines of 19th Century structures and are finding that it just doesn’t work as well as learning could.
So many brilliant and forward-thinking educators and architects are working to re-design the classroom of now, and quite smartly, are attempting to gather kids’ voices in the process. But I ask you, are kids able to articulate what features they want to include in their learning spaces? Can they remove themselves from the only classroom model they’ve ever known to envision their own learning spaces differently?
I’ve found they simply cannot.
Over the past 6 years while working to re-vision schools, classroom environments, and providing students the opportunity to develop their own strong and clear voices, I’ve run this experiment many times. I’ve found that holding kids inside a 4-walled, factory-model classroom and asking them to think of “whatever they might want” produces fewer results than one might think.
You see, in order to think differently about school, we’ve got to experience school differently first.
But there is a way to give kids who are currently inside a traditonal model a hand-up in experiencing things differently. And if you run the same project with students who are already experiencing school a little more differently, such as the K-4 graders at Walton Rural Life Center, those kids will amaze you with the options they might come up with in re-designing their own learning environment.
And this is where tomorrow’s work comes in. I’m excited, very excited, for tomorrow’s work!
See, not only do I get to work directly with kids, I get to work alongside my partner, Kevin Honeycutt. AND we get to help kids figure out what a great school might look like! Principal extraordinaire, Natise Vogt, and the rest of the Walton Rural Life Center staff will be working alongside the kids on this journey.
Allan Milbradt of PBA Architects will be there to consult with the kids and to observe how Kevin and I, along with the Walton staff, help students find their creativity and voices to build beyond their current model of experience and understanding.
Yep, it’s gonna be a fun time!
Of course this is a personalized version of our LifePractice PBL recipe card, Build a Martian Colony, that can be tied directly back to the hard academic content of Social Studies, Science, Math, Reading, and Writing, if you like. Kevin and I will be at Walton for only one day, so this will be a fast ‘n furious project from start to finish. If you have a couple more days to work with your kids, you can easily tie in not only your academic standards of learning, but kids will also practice many of the ELA and College & Career Readiness standards, as well as many of the 8 Mathematical Practices of the Common Core standards.
- Launching Learning with Kevin Honeycutt: K12Online12 Begins! (speedofcreativity.org)