It’s a common scene isn’t it? I like to call scenes like this “Me, not We.” In fact, these desks are as empty as the concept of the type of learning this classroom environment encourages.
This very typical classroom aesthetic lends itself to the ideal that learning is about me, not the collective we. And as all well read educators understand, the time for learning, the acquisition of knowledge, and the use of wisdom for strictly my sake is a paradigm of the past. With the world quickly flattening, it will be imperative – if not a matter of economic and intellectual survival – for our children to become master collaborators, skillful cooperatives, and wise team players. Disagree? Better start reading Wikinomics, The Wisdom of Crowds, The Wealth of Networks, and We Are Smarter Than Me.
Back to the sad image. Collaboration, cooperative learning, teaming, sharing… are these pedagogical practices possible in a classroom such as this? It seems to me that if we continue to utilize this abomination of feng shui then we can’t expect or students to grasp the concept of connectivity, collaboration, and shared learning. Marc Prensky’s presentation at the NJECC conference):
He [Prensky] mentioned that classrooms should be reconfigurable and not fixed spaces. [The following is Barry’s thoughts] Yet, here at this college campus, with a new building built 2 years ago, the rooms are still in rows with a teacher station and a large board at the front. Why didn’t the university go with something different?
Those would have been my thoughts also. I think about this every time I walk past or enter a classroom… even more so when the classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and capabilities.
It is the end of the world as we [educators] knew it. This is a difficult shift for many to take; students learning together, passing knowledge and information around like love notes, assisting each other when they struggle with concepts, ideas, and their own shifts. But if we truly want to begin shifting, then we – the designers, the dreamers, the shift pushers and pullers – must begin with the environment in which we expect these new dimensions of the new education to occur.
Don’t keep their “me” desks, provide them a “we” pod.
Photo courtesy of Design Share