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Four metaphors for the classroom of the future

Stepping into a 2017 classroom, a school teacher from 1917 or even 1817 would recognize where she was. Formal education long ago settled into Flatland. We put students in rectangular rooms, seated in arrangements of chairs and desks. They use books, papers, chalk and whiteboards, and tablets or computers. They follow fixed, planned curricula.

In fact, the language we use keeps us in Flatland. Our words — school, classroom, teacher, grade, class — connote that enduring Flatland system.

It’s time to finally break loose from Flatland. Here are four metaphors for the future learning place that can open up thinking:

A black box theater — A place where learners and their helpers can arrange and rearrange their learning spaces with total flexibility.

A forest — Learning in and from nature, anywhere and everywhere. Learn about the world in the world.

A maker space — The learning place has tools, materials, and room for learners to experiment, create, and collaborate.

A diner — A place to be with friends and encouonter strangers and to learn together.

There are lots of other metaphors that can help change how we think about education. What are your ideas? Please share them in the comment section, below.


For more on the future of education, see: Education futures.

Images: all Creative Commons Attribution License. Black Box Theater, Beso17, Wikimedia Commons; Finland forest, Tiia Monto, Wikimedia Commons; Maker space. Makerspace der SLUB, Germany, 2014, Albert Steinmetz; Al Mac’s Diner, Fall River Mass, 2012. Source: “Al Mac’s Diner-Restaurant Fall River MA 2012” by Kenneth C. Zirkel.

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