"Look at your learning space with 21st-century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past?" from The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching and Learning
How often do we as school leaders look at our schools with 21st century eyes? How often do we walk into classrooms within our building still caught up in our own 20th century views of what should be happening in those classrooms? I suspect it still happens quite often. We expect teachers to engage students in 21st century learning, yet we still give them classrooms where desks are arranged neatly in rows with a teacher desk located at the front of the room. Instead of environments that foster collaboration and teamwork, we have classrooms that drive students to compliance and teachers to rolling students through the assembly line like so many widgets.
We talk big about preparing students for a 21st century world that requires students to interact globally and solve problems. Yet, our buildings and classrooms still sadly represent the 20th century factory model of pushing students through a system, adding value along the way to graduation. Our school schedules are still more about how we can most efficently churn students through the system, rather than finding ways to address the personalized needs of each student. We conduct quality control tests in the form of standardized tests along the way to make sure the product is progressing as we hoped. We do a lot of talking about preparing students for a world that does not yet exist, yet, if you examine our leadership decisions, it would seem that we still can't quite let go of the past.
As we move into the end of another school year, perhaps it is time to begin questioning what we do. With an incredibly open mind, perhaps we need to begin seeing what we do with 21st century eyes.