5 Ways to Create a School of the Future
The fast-paced advances in technology, as well as the changes that we are experiencing in education, will create an entirely new vision for how schools in the future will appear and function. What is the future of education? What is a “school of the future?” How can we develop effective education strategies using our advancing technology to benefit our students? If you are interested in learning the answers to these questions, continue reading because this article will detail the answers to these questions.
- School Culture– According to Edutopia, New York’s “School of the Future” was successful for many reasons; one of those reasons was school culture. A successful school of the future needs to provide more than adequate time for professional development, teacher planning, and grade-level team meetings. By providing needed planning time and resources for professional development, teachers felt like they had sufficient time to prepare lesson materials. Educators also had the opportunity to collaborate and develop new ideas with other educators and staff members.
- Phenomenon Based-Learning- Phenomenon based-learning, as used in Finland, presents the idea that students should learn about real-world issues and topics, rather than simply individual subjects. Tan Wee Kwang who discussed the progress of Finland’s “schools of the future,” states that students can learn about topics such as the European Union, the body, and the environment. Within a given topic students can learn about multiple disciplines including various sciences, government, history, psychology and even math. By learning through discovering real-world contexts, and learning subjects within those contexts, we give our students the tools that they need to function in the real world. The last time I checked, I never needed to know how many sides a parallelogram has, except maybe when I am watching Jeopardy. Topics used in phenomenon-based learning can be on any world idea that is important and relevant such as how to make a budget, how to file taxes, or how to understand democracy.
- Encourage the Creative Use of Technology- Technology is, of course, playing a significant role in what “the school of the future” can look like. In an article originally posted in 1998 by Education World, the authors proposed that ten years later, technology and accessibility would be key to creating and developing schools of the future. They were right. Positive and prosperous schools are encouraging student growth and students’ development of critical thinking and logic and reasoning skills through the creative use of technology. Schools of the future will not only have access to technology but teachers will also give students projects and tasks that encourage students to think creatively. Students will learn through making use of technology to create their own media and perhaps, even online portfolios.
- Style and Format of Assessment- As used in Finland, student assessments in the “school of the future” focus more on the process of each student and less on the results of each student. Tan Wee Kwang notes that in early grades, students in Finland are given written feedback rather than the standard form of grading because written feedback can encourage students and assist them in their personal learning process. Sometimes grades can be discouraging, especially when students compare grades with each other. By using Finland’s model of modifying the way that grades are assigned and feedback is given, schools can better assist students in the learning process. They can help students focus more on their areas for improvement and less on a certain grade that they obtained.
- Bringing Real Life Experience into the Classroom- One school designed using the “school of the future” format in New York emphasized the importance of bringing real life experiences and knowledge into the classroom. The New York’s School of the Future website https://www.sof.edu/about/ discusses top ten facts about what is important to their “school of future.” These points include the significance of bringing real world ideas and problems to the classroom. Because teachers are not constrained by NY state’s curriculum guidelines, they have more freedom in their lesson planning, flexibility, and ability to teach “without the handbook.”
The concepts and ideas presented in this article regarding the “School of the Future” are just a few building blocks regarding what we believe can make a solid foundation for our future generations. Although standardized testing and learning methods are still important, sometimes these methods can reduce a teacher’s ability to be creative in the classroom. Additionally, standardized testing is not always an accurate measurement of students’ learning. We must acknowledge that there are, in fact, many ways to learn, and many ways to assess students’ learning. If the United States wants to work towards being on the top again in STEM subjects and all other areas, we should focus on expanding our vision for education in the future. By redefining our “schools of the future,” we redefine our education system, our value system, and our future as a nation.