There has been a bit of noise lately on various social media sites about a movement in Sweden to rethink the layout of schools instead of the traditional classroom approach. Physical changes to the environment reflect a new way of thinking about education including collaborative work and learning with children of different ages.
The concept is simple in that it tries to implement a general space with as few walls as possible for the entire school. Students of different ages but of close skill levels are put together in teams to be taught at different spaces in the room. In that view, it is a very child-centered classroom, and the kids can advance at their own rhythm.
Business Insider recently profiled the Telefonplan School (pictured) in Sweden, one of 30 run by Vittra which shows kids mostly using laptops, and being engaged at various corners of the school.
The pictures of the school look nice and attractive, and the design of the place has nothing but "modern" written all over it. As a matter of fact, I'm quite taken with the design of the whole school, they have put a lot of thought behind the concept of relating space to education.
For a bit of history, the Open-Classroom concept is not that new or revolutionary. In the 60's, the U.S was questioning their education system and started looking outward. The concept was brought over from England and started spreading fast. This system apparently peaked in the 70's, but quickly evaporated.
Larry Cuban explains in his article that "Public concerns over a lagging economy, rising unemployment, and the Vietnam War grew into a perception, again amplified by the media, that academic standards had slipped, desegregating schools had failed, and urban schools had become violent places. School critics' loud voices and rising public concern over these messy problems melded into "back-to-basics" policies that toughened the curriculum, increased the teacher's authority, and required more work of students"
As much as the idea seems very attractive to me, I wonder if this pedagogy would be best for all kids. Of course, I believe that any system's success is largely dependant on the educators behind it, and I could see that if not applied properly with very strict rules, it could become a very loud and chaotic place.
Have some of you gone to this type of school? Any opinions on such a school system?
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(Images: Rosan Basch via Business Insider)