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21st Century Learning

6/1 | TowerPinkster

What does it mean? What does it look like? How do I make it work in my existing school?

On May 7th and 8th we spent time asking those very questions of educators, employers, and design professionals; setting up a mock learning space, and encouraging visitors to interact and ask questions. David Stubbs, of Cultural-Shift, talked about what led him, as an architect in charge of facilitating the design of a “model school,” to design a line of furniture that filled a void he saw in the market. Think about your current classroom space, or your kids classroom space. What does it look like?

For a great percentage of existing schools, it’s a marker board on one wall, cabinets lining another wall, a large space in the corner dedicated to a teacher desk that’s rarely occupied, and sometimes 32 students crammed in between all that stuff. Now imagine what it would look like with all of that “stuff” gone; save for the marker boards. You’ve just added approximately 100 square feet more of teaching/learning space. Storage is mobile, the instructors station is mobile, student work stations are mobile. The teacher is free to set up the classroom to suit the lesson of that day. Or hour. There’s a group of students huddled together working on a project; mobile marker boards defining their space. Another group is lined around the teacher, who is better explaining the lesson to them, and throughout, more students are reading. Some are laying on the floor, others sitting on soft benches, and others yet are sitting in chairs over a desk. The point here is that 21st century learning looks different to everybody. The power is in the option to choose. Eliminate the clutter, relocate the precious real estate being devoted to rarely accessed functions, and allow the room to be what it needs to be; a flexible, dynamic learning environment for a dynamic, diverse group of learners and educators.

For inspiration: A few “21st century” learning spaces TowerPinkster has been a part of. And a few we just think are cool.

Battle Creek Math + Science
Nature’s Way Preschool
Kent Innovation High
Buckingham County Elementary School, VMDO Architects, P.C.
James Berry Elementary School, Gensler
Redding School of the Arts, TRILOGY Architecture