Flickr: Corey Leopold

By Greg Stack

So much about how and where kids learn has changed over the years, but the physical structure of schools has not. Looking around most school facilities — even those that aren’t old and crumbling —  it’s obvious that so much of it is obsolete today, and yet still in wide use.

1.   COMPUTER LABS. Students are connected to the Internet everywhere except in school. Regardless of their income bracket, most kids carry around a world of information in their pockets on their mobile devices, and yet we force them to power down and disconnect, and we confine them in obsolete computer labs. A modern school needs to have connectivity everywhere and treat computers more like pencils than microscopes.

At Northern Beaches Christian School students learn everywhere.

2.   LEARNING IN PRESCRIBED PLACES. When you ask people to remember a meaningful learning experience from high school, chances are the experience didn’t take place in a space designed for learning. Working in groups, while on a trip, while doing a project or learning while talking with friends — those are the lasting, meaningful learning experiences. Yet we don’t design schools to accommodate these activities and focus only on the formal spaces.

3.  TEACHER-CENTERED CLASSROOM. Classrooms were designed for lecture and crowd control, with the teacher as the central figure of knowledge and authority.  The teacher had knowledge to impart through direct instruction and the current classroom structure works pretty well for this. This basic classrooms structure is the same, though in some schools, the chalkboard has been replaced by the interactive “Smart Board.” In progressive classrooms, the structure has changed: small groups of kids working, project work, and student presentations require rethinking this model.
4.   ISOLATED CLASSROOMS. Tony Wagner of the Harvard School of Education and the author of the Global Achievement Gap says: “Isolation is the enemy of improvement” and yet most schools are designed in a way that isolates teachers from each other. Teachers often learn to teach in isolated boxes and perpetuate that style throughout their career. Interior windows get “papered over” and blinds are shut. Yet out of school, people work in teams and are visually and often aurally connected.
5.   DEPARTMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS. In order to break down the size of schools and to allow students to learn across curriculum, it’s essential to organize schools so that teachers of various subjects are located together. This not only emulates how people work today – in collaborative groups – but encourages teachers to consider students holistically, not only as they perform in a specific subject.
Corridors at Machias Elementary are used for informal learning

6.   SCHOOL CORRIDORS. Corridors take up a lot of valuable real estate in a school and are unoccupied most of the time. If rooms are arranged in groups around a common space, corridors are not necessary. And unused corridors can be made into informal learning spaces.

7.   TRADITIONAL SCHOOL LIBRARIES. In a modern school a library should be more of a learning commons able to support a variety of student activities as they learn to access and evaluate information.  Books have their place but they are not the end-all of libraries.  A learning commons is no longer the quiet sanctum of old, rather it is a space that can be central or distributed, used formally or informally, and one that can stimulate a spirit of inquiry in students.

8.   DARK, INDOOR GYMS. Most gyms have no access to natural light because of fear of glare that might interfere with sporting events. But with soaring energy costs, being able to turn off lights in a gym can amount to big savings. Designing glare-free gyms is possible but typically requires more natural light not less. Skylights, well placed windows and ample light create a great experience and a functional space.
Learner Centered Classroom at Riverview Elementary School.

9.   INSTITUTIONAL FOOD SERVICE. School food service usually involves folding tables that are placed and replaced throughout the day.  With cleanup activities it takes the commons/cafeteria out of action most of the day.  Why sacrifice this valuable space when it could serve multiple purposes? Creating spaces that require less movement of furniture while remaining flexible will allow them to be used more effectively.  Common spaces can also be less institutional, which in turn increases their flexibility.  Decentralizing food service allows students to eat in smaller groups and also allows multi-use of spaces.  Even if the food isn’t better, the space can be.

10.   LARGE RESTROOMS. Students try to avoid using school restrooms even in new schools because of concerns over privacy, bullying, and cleanliness contribute. To avoid restroom use, students stop drinking water and become dehydrated, and unable to focus. In Finland and other parts of Europe, they use individual restrooms that are located in the shared learning areas between classrooms. There seems to be a feeling of ownership for these, so they don’t get trashed. Also, they have more privacy, and there’s less bullying.

Greg Stack is an architect for NAC Architecture and specializes in developing best practices for the planning and design of educational environments. A version of this post originally appeared on School Design Matters.
10 Things in School That Should Be Obsolete 20 July,2012MindShift

  • James Ward

    I really agree with everything you write about in this article. Thanks.

  • D400webb

    Sometimes I think people write these things just because they have to write something.  I guess my educational background favors an ‘evolutionary’ approach to these things, so when I see someone creating what amounts to a bandwagon and an invitation to jump on, I have to wonder how much thought and actual study has gone into it, and how much is just the result of an idle mind or the need for a “productive” schedule (or worst, a neo-Marxist agenda(?) since everyone’s got something to sell).  My ‘evolutionary’ mindset tells me that different pedagogues and different physical structures will interact and find their own “best practices”.  As for the writer’s ideas, I’m also distracted today, so here are my own thoughts and opinions; for what they’re worth:

    1. No computer labs?  Students at my kid’s high school benefit from high-end digital FX and animation platforms that just couldn’t be duplicated on an iPod, iPad, or iWhatever.
    2. Prescribed places.  A matter of definition.  Students have to be *somewhere*!  I’m all for learning physics outdoors, or math at an archaeological site, or social studies at the airport, but simple practicality demands we have prescribed places to be.  Maybe a bit less compartmentalization, but we can’t mix the gym with the chem lab.
    3. Teacher-centered classroom.  Again, a matter of definition, but this one is a semantic bandwagon.  The teacher must remain the center of the classroom, regardless the illustrative/communicative technology involved.  Teachers will always be required to teach.  Students learn.  Even when students are required to teach other students, the purpose is for that first student to learn something!  Working in groups is not new!  Neither is the idea of the “flipped” classroom.  Students have always been expected to learn things before coming to class to discuss them. The only thing that’s changed is that some professors of education have now received tenure for writing articles on how education can still be same, but we can call it something different, and look like we’re geniuses.
    4. Isolated classrooms.  Some isolation is necessary for concentration and effective communication. We need walls so that our students are not distracted by that other group of students, unless we go back to the one-room school house for, say, 1500 students (?). Team-teaching is a fine idea; I’m all for it. But current pedagogies favor subject-based organization (which is inherently “isolated”), and for that we need some isolation.
    5. Departmental organizations.  No decent teacher isolates themselves from outside ideas.  I doubt that doing away with such management groups would help much (besides, isn’t the alternative lack of department organization; yikes!).  Departments exist to manage specialist needs.  Again, no decent teacher isolates themselves from outside ideas.
    6. Corridors? Really?  Isn’t this more or less the same as number 4?  Yeah, they take up space, but then too, students have always found corridors to be useful social space, and useful mental break space between classes.  You can only place so many non-isolated classroom spaces around a common space before you’re going to need a corridor to connect those non-corridor spaces (!??!). I’m thinking that a school with no isolated classrooms and no corridors is going to be a pretty easy draw on the architect’s drafting table….
    7. Traditional libraries.  I’ve experienced the concept of the learning commons.  It is more like the “common area of distraction from being able to focus on learning anything”, but I admit that I’m not entirely against the idea.  Obviously changes in media will create changes in library structure, but before we start dumping all those books, let’s see how things change as the next few generations learn to cope with ePub and the like.  We’ve already seen the promise of cheap ebooks vanish before our blinking eyes, but the hidden cost of constantly upgrading digital platforms is something very few educators seem to be talking about.  If you think education is expensive now, wait until students have to upgrade their iReader every 6 months!
    8. Dark gyms.  Well, no argument there, but heating and cooling under those skylights can also be expense, as can the skylights themselves.  Yes, more natural light; I’m all for it.  In fact, get outdoors!
    9. Institutional food service.  Again, a matter of definition.  Not all kids come to school with a decent lunch (or even any lunch!).  Lunches need to be available at least for those lacking, and to keep costs down, this needs to be organized by *some* form of “institution”.  Kids in our local schools, when given the choice, overwhelmingly opted for healthy food services (they’re just young, not stupid), and that service is just another form of “institutionalized” service.  More welcoming environments in which to eat are always appreciated, but indoor spaces need to be cleaned to avoid insects and rodents and fungi and mold, so having lots of different spaces to eat in could be costly. As for the folding tables; those tables exist *because* the space already is multipurpose, otherwise non-folding tables would occupy the space.
    10. Large restrooms.  Again, it’s a matter of cost isn’t it; construction cost and cleaning cost.  No school (except the one-room school house) is going to provide individual restrooms for all students! And where two students can be in a restroom space at the same time you will have opportunities for out-of-sight bullying. But sure, smaller restrooms certainly couldn’t hurt.

    • Drdeadline

      You strike me as a typical academician who enjoys playing devil’s advocate.

      • Chris Parsons

        Maybe, but the author of the article could also strike you as an architect trying to make a name for himself through simply reversing all the previous norms. I can imagine an alternative universe with schools exactly as he envisages, and people are writing blog posts saying “You know, if we simply injected a bit more structure and focus into all this ‘openess’ you wouldn’t believe what children might be able to achieve…”

      • KJ
    • Very well said! 
      Hey, I can draw a great rectangle… can I be the school’s next architect??  Please, pretty please?  I could draw a rectangle for the school, then a rectangle for the common areas, then rectangles to connect the common areas and a rectangle for the area where we can use the computers and one for the place we go to eat and a whole bunch of them for where we go to…go. And don’t forget one for the principal to go to when parents need to be called and a rectangle to hide all those chemicals the custodian uses to clean up the rectangle where the students go to eat.  Wow… that’s a lot of rectangles…. I think it is begining to look like, oh yeah… a school.

    • Patrick

      I would like to note. Most students, have cell phones in their pockets with more computing power than your average school computer. As long as capable Internet service is provided, the cell phone could be one of the better tos use in school lately, replacing the big goofy graphing calculators and saving money on computers.

  • RBLnyc

    what is always VERY surprising to me is how LITTLE the technologies available today are actually utilized in schools in a meaningful way. i’m not saying that all students should be at screens all day long, but the time online and working on research through the internet resources, working with software for learning languages, studying and writing scientific and research papers… all that and more is ONLINE in the big wide world… and walking around many too many public schools in the country, it’s almost as if time has stood still, and we are still PRETENDING that MOST ADULT LEARNERS, and INCLUDING most private high schools and certainly at nearly all college campuses work with and through technological means. Being a good learner, thinker and writer DOES not mean ONLY with paper and pen.. and using outdated textbooks is a shame, when most recent information can be found responsibly through search and sites online. Given the proper instructional format, and acknowledging that our students are NOT LIKE WE WERE prior to the 1990’s, schools, teaching and learning would be rightly brought to the world we all live in now. 

  • Maria Cipollone

    Here here, D400webb! Couldn’t agree more. I am a phd student who researches tech in ed.  I agree that we need to carefully embrace new technologies.  The author of this post seems to favor a hypothetical classroom.  People need to realize also that it is going to take a serious MINDSHIFT (pun intended) before teachers let go of some of the “traditional” settings that they are so comfortable with.  PS. And kids are *very* used to them, too.

    • SindyE

      Damn evil, backward teachers!  You’re not going to be one, are you, ed phd candidate?  Not in my school, you aren’t. 

  • Cassondra

    I think you need to work in a few schools before you say how to improve them. I’ve worked in large well moneyed schools and small poor schools and the one thing I can easily say is that some of the poorest kids do NOT have use of technology and DO need to be fed occasionally. Even in more well to do schools they have very poor students and they deserve an education too.I’ve seen kids come in with shoes falling off their feet because they were worn out and the students family couldn’t afford new ones. I’ve seen kids who take home backpack meals on the weekends because they have no food at home. So technology is completely outside the realm of possibilities and they only chance they have of using a computer is in the computer lab you want to get rid of.
    And as for how the buildings are built and those kinds of improvements those buildings are built to LAST and accomodate new technology that we don’t even know about yet. Schools are run on a budget and unlike our federal budget you can’t overspend. Skylights for gyms? Great idea except even the best skylight will leak after a few years and then maintenance goes up. Not to mention a lot of gyms now are being built in the midwest as tornado safe rooms for not only the school but the community. You want to eliminate traditional classrooms and hallways. Then exactly how do you plan to do lock down procedures when someone who shouldn’t be there enters a building. One of the first thing to do is lock classroom doors to keep students safe and that corridor is used as a buffer zone .
    Maybe in your utopia it would work but this is the real world and we have to teach students in the real world. Using what they have and what they can afford schools do the best they can under rough circumstances most of the time. Especially now that we are in this recession the schools have less money coming in. If you want your child to go to school in what you described I suggest you figure out a way to build it yourself and open a private school. Good luck with that.

  • Kimberly Herbert

    One of our CITS asked us to read your post. You really got me thinking.  There are parts I disagree with – like open concept and we need to fix the food in the cafeterias. But mostly I agree with you. I wrote a blog post in response 

  • Wascsan

    I was educated at the end of the Dewey era. What great learning took place. Lots of group projects, music, art, folk dancing. We had a well rounded education. Later I was the librarian in an open space  public school. That was wonderful. All the classrooms opened onto the library. We had many activities planned. On Fridays the school offered about 35 activities for students across grade levels- everything from knitting, photography, cooking, storytelling, book making, etc. Because it was an innovative school when it opened, we had lots of visitors. But no matter who came thru the open classrooms, the students would feel comfortable asking questions and getting help on a problem. Some parents couldn’t imagine being in a setting like that, but we felt it prepared students better for the workplace. Concentration was important and not being distracted helped the learning process. Lots of activity. Great principal who let us try new things and encouraged individual thinking.

  • Rfchris09

    Oh my, having 36 kids (many of them overweight) in a classroom, with 36 desks and chairs, sometimes, I feel like saying, “Fasten your seat belts and no moving about the cabin.” We need bigger rooms before we need anything else….either that or smaller class sizes, but that will never happen….just try setting up a science experiment and letting it go for awhile….or robots….or paper roller coasters….you can barely move.

  • I disagree with a lot of what you said here as a matter of practicality. D400webb has said some of them a lot better than I ever could, but I’ll just add one thing in favour of computer labs – storage. No iPad, netbook or whatever can replace the ease and affordability of desktop storage for multimedia, and the speed of wired access to network storage. Sorry, computer labs are here to stay for the next decade at least.

  • Thought provoking and something to consider in a world where kids interact so much differently than adults. If we are to truly move in a forward thinking direction on education, we need to take a hard look at some of things you addressed in this post.

  • SindyE

    Can you say “open classroom concept” of the 1970’s?  Yep, that really worked.  Do these folks actually work in schools?  Or understand school finance or building budgets?  Or spend any time with teenagers?  FYI, just because you have an IPAD doesn’t mean you know how to research or format a paper.  Bullying is not a constant fear-inducting epidemic that causes students to develop dehydration and bladder infections.  And are they all supposed to walk through my classroom to get to the next one if there are no halls?  By the way, I gave up teacher-centered classrooms a long time ago, but you can’t do projects, work in groups, and surf the web constantly:  someone at some point has to guide instruction–that’s what I’m paid (very little) for.  I am REALLY tired of know-it-all non-educators telling us that schools are all wrong.  I’m guessing they didn’t get their diploma and degrees on-line.

    • Bridiekb

      Open concept classrooms from the 70’s do NOT work for young children who have difficulty focussing/paying attention and older children with ADHD. They also cause more stress for the teachers who have to compete with the noise/work sounds coming from all of the other classroom) I  had to chuckle about the avoidance of bathrooms and dehydration concerns as well? Really? Is this true in any school?

      • Marwil3449

        No one has “difficulty focussing/paying attention” when what they’re focussing on is meaningful to them!  I’m sick of all these automatons, (teachers?) thinking they’re doing something wonderful when all they’re really doing is colluding with a psychotic system of crowd and mind control.  And as for ADHD…well that’s a nice way to treat children who are just bored out their minds with a curriculum that means nothing at all to them now and will be useless for them in the future…get real, the only purpose that diagnosis serves is to get kids to sit through the most tedious time of their lives…forced schooling…which is not education…education is what happens before and after the corporate circus!

        • how many years have you been teaching?

          • Mcginnis1

            I’ve been teaching for 20, mostly in inner city and I AGREE!

        • EducatedDad

          Not sure you are a teacher because ADHD/ADD is real.  I am an educator and a parent of a child with ADHD.  You are more than welcome to come experience the joy of a morning in my house before my child’s medication takes affect.  Before you start to question my parenting skills know I am former military police officer so discipline is not the issue, it is the focusing  Get off your soapbox. 

          • Anonymous

             Let’s preface this with I am a pediatric nurse so I know that ADHD/ADD is real in SOME kids. I can’t speak to your child because I have never met or observed your child.

            I will tell you that when my brother was in elementary school, my mother fought tooth and nail with a school system and a school psychologist who wanted to label my brother as having ADHD.  The behaviors they were describing at school were not the behaviors exhibited at home, however the know-it-all educators refused to listen, and were insisting my mother medicate him. Finally, it was decided they would test his IQ as his test scores did show he was advanced for his age (as did all of my mother’s four children). He is a genius, literally. Nobody insisted he be medicated anymore after that. Thank GOD my mother doesn’t believe that “experts” are the be all, end all of everything; otherwise, my brother would’ve lived his life labeled and drugged.

            It is very much a catch all/overdiagnosis for kids that are not being stimulated enough at home or at school. It saddens me to see the number of heavily medicated children that do not need to be. Finally, before telling someone else to get off their soapbox you might need to get off your own.

          • MSM

            Teachers and districts can’t legally label a child ADHD.  This is something a doctor must do.

          • Nerdiscool

            I feel your brother’s pain same happend to me at my old school.I moved out cuz I wanted a education,I NEVER had that at my old school. Your mom did the right thing.

        • Horsewhisper

          I hear your pain. What is interesting about the notion of being in school is mostly about being with friends and that we can use to help others to understand learning from everyone and not just from a teacher.

      • Ed

        Yeah, I was questioning the bathroom note too.  While I doubt it’s as big of an issue in schools located in towns or even small cities, large cities may have so many kids in a school that it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of them all.  I could see the potential for that to be an issue in those cases, but in many places, when class is in session, kids often have to ask permission to use the bathroom and so the likelihood of bullying or lack of privacy is rather reduced.

        • Teacher for 13 years

          I’m really struck by the thinking of some of the teachers on this board. If you really understood what the article was saying you would understand that he is advocating a shift in paradigm and pedagogy.  This is not the open classrooms of the 1970s.  All that did was build schools with no walls where teachers made their own walls, still taught in isolation and complained about the noise.  The author is not advocating continued practice with a new building architecture.  He is advocating a new paradigm in what it means to teach.  The buildings aren’t just open – but they aren’t isolated either.  From your comments, it is clear you don’t really get it since you are talking about people walking through “your” classroom.  And for everyone talking about how these “non-educators” are telling us what is wrong with school and challenging them to give up how long they are teaching, I find it ironic that you turn around and say there is nothing wrong with the bathroom situation.  Gang bathrooms have always been a haven of bullying and time-wasting.  For you to think otherwise shows how little you know  about what is going on in your schools with the kids you teach.  

          Why is it that teachers are happy to be isolated in their own little fiefdoms? No other profession isolates the professionals to such a degree and yet here we are fighting to keep it.  Just listen to yourself.  Let’s cover all the windows, strip away all the decorations and create a drab, isolated, lifeless classroom in order to keep the little urchins focused.  Wow!  

          • AS

             I agreed with the shift in paradigm, as I employ many of the less teacher-centered ideas in my classroom, but some of these things are impractical.  I was trying to imagine my school with over 800 kids and no corridors, just one big open commons space.  It would be chaos.  As a person who monitors hallways on a daily basis, and has served as an interim assistant principal, I would find an open commons space to be a nightmare. And I find it hard to believe that kids are avoiding the drinking fountains and becoming dehydrated.  I have students who ask to get a drink every single hour.
            I think the teachers on this board are merely expressing a skeptical view, which is a normal reaction when someone is suggesting you shift your entire paradigm.  It’s also a normal reaction to people who think ADD doesn’t exist…

          • JCbldg

              I was trying to imagine my school with over 800 kids and no corridors, just one big open commons space. 

            It wouldn’t be one open common space. They are talking about breaking the schools up into smaller units. Students in one section could all share the same group of teachers as they rotate class to class. Those 60-100 kids would have a shared common space that doubles as a corridor between the classes. My middle school did this 10 years ago, and it allowed our teachers to co-ordinate with each other. Everyone became really comfortable with each other, and students regularly did extra projects with each other outside of the regular curriculum. Our teacher’s classrooms became a shared space.Right now schools are institutionalized. High schools are no different then prisons in terms of their layout and objectives. Everything is geared toward controlling the movement of students, and no thought is put into making schools into anything more. No one is seriously looking for alternatives.

            I agree with some of your points. It’s normal to have doubts, and the bit about students being dehydrated was ridiculous…but there’s an opportunity here. I’m sure we could do a lot to create these experiences within existing schools by just breaking schools down into smaller units. Scheduling is difficult and students are at different levels, but I’m sure schools can create these arrangements. 

          • anotherannarborite

            come on!  I have a 6th grader who hates using the bathroom at school and will absolutely avoid drinking as to not have to use the bathroom.  This is a very real issue and hydration is extremely important to brain activity, just ask any neurologist.

          • Zen

            Bullshit, since our vertebrate ancestors developed a kidney that allowed them to live on land, we can go 8-10 hours without water just fine.  Take a piss before you leave for school and hydrate when you get home.  This crap of carrying a water bottle everywhere – to stay hydrated – total invention of the soft drink companies to increase profits.

          • Guest

            You must not study a lot and do research.. Why not give kids salt tablets like they use to give athletes so they wouldn’t drink water…

          • Crystal

            Thank you for your insight!  I didn’t understand what the author meant when talking about the isolated classrooms and what he was suggesting instead.

          • MsM

            I agree that the true goal is a paradigm shift but do not think that teachers are fighting to keep their little fiefdoms.  A huge factor in the change to a more open concept would be the luxury of common planning time for teachers.  No one can afford this on a large scale.  I have been part of a learning environment where we had intense collaboration made possible by having time each day, up to three hours a DAY for the whole year for teaming and departmental collaboration.  That won’t ever be possible at a scale of the urban districts. 

             Also, the pay-based accountability measures are increasing to a point that makes shared accountability too fuzzy a process for districts to press the issue.  Scores in Math too low?  How are they going to blame the reading teacher as well as the math teacher?   

          • Golgotha

            “Why is it that teachers are happy to be isolated in their own little fiefdoms?”

            Because after years and years and years of having the latest avant-garde theories and practices shoved down their throats by administrators and politicians, with little emphasis placed on practicality and efficacy, with WAY too much emphasis placed on superficiality and P.R., teachers in-the-know realize that in order to effectively run a classroom one cannot depend on the directives of outside advisors who ultimately do not take responsibility for what they advocate should be happening in the classroom.

            Teachers are not much different than all other adults out in the working world. We all learn to be wary of the latest bobble-head doll who comes along looking to enact reforms, increase efficiency and show everyone just how things are “supposed” to be done. Many times, too many times, this translates into someone looking to enhance their resume so they can climb the next rung on the ladder. Leave school personnel with a cumbersome, purposeless, bureaucratic system? No matter! I’m outta here anyway!

            Education is an infinitely complex issue with discreet, unquantifiable facets affecting ultimate outcomes. Often, when faced with such intricate problems, it’s easy for people to resort to an unrealistically simple solutions to assuage their frustrations. Which is why you have things said like:

            “Get rid of tenure!”
            “Fill out these forms!”
            “Give each student a laptop!”
            “Buy this curricular program!”

            Again, those in-the-know realize that there are NO quick fixes. In fact, there are no fixes at all. There will always be segments of the student population that are not being served optimally by any given system, just as there are adults that do not “fit” a particular methodology/practice.

            The nature of people is ultimately inscrutable. You can do your best to try and figure someone out, but there will always be someone else waiting, saying, “No, no, no. That’s ALL wrong. Your should do it this way…”

          • I agree on many of your points.  Just as each child is different, each teacher is different.  What I use in my classroom, the teacher next door or across the hall cannot use effectively, nor can I use what that teacher uses.
            (Excuse me for a second while I step onto my soapbox.)

            My personality, outgoing and goofy with a touch of adult ADD (yes there is such a thing as adult ADD,) lends to a more openly fun, loud and somewhat chaotic learning experience for the student.  My fellow teachers tend to be more reserved and their classrooms are quieter.  HOWEVER, we all end up with the same goals and outcomes. 

            What a good administration needs to understand is that the teacher is the one who is in the room, who is with the student, who adjusts the lessons to enhance learning, who can take the “prescribed curriculum” and make that fun and relevant to the student and the student’s learning.

            After teaching children for 15 years, I have learned NOT to question another seasoned teacher about their methods of teaching, rather I observe and learn from them.  Much like a surgical intern will watch and learn from a seasoned surgeon.  I also invite teachers in to learn from me.  I believe the author of the article was attempting to relate to the reader that our schools need to be more open to each other.  Not that we don’t need walls and doors to seperate the rooms, rather we need to open up our classrooms to each other (teachers and teachers) and to other students.  I honestly believe that teachers need to communicate and realize that if a student in my classroom cannot learn in the environment I have created then I need to allow that student to transfer to an environment where he/she can learn.  Too many times I have fought for a student to be transfered from one classroom environment to another.  I didn’t say from one teacher to another, I said from one environment to another.  Although our goal is to educate as many children as we can though our methods, what works for one doesn’t work for all… 

            As for tenure… I don’t believe getting rid of tenure is the answer for anyone.  However, I do believe that tenure should come up for review every now and again. (Every 3 years?)  While I was in High School, there were a few teachers that seemed to be biding their time, and now as a teacher, I see that too.  That is very unfortunate.  Teachers that are simply biding their time give the rest of us a bad name and seriously hurt our profession.  Tenure was originally instated to keep someone from being fired unjustly.  Unfortunately over the years it has become too difficult to fire a poor teacher once said teacher has been granted tenure.  (For example, there is a building in NY city where bad teachers go, sit and read papers, watch tv and still get paid because the district cannot get rid of them because of tenure.) Tenure, as it was meant to be, isn’t a bad thing at all. However, with the changes made to the way tenure is given and no review on tenure, it has become virtually impossible to fire a teacher not doing his/her job unless that teacher did something illegal.

            I am charged with preparing my students for the state exams.  I sincerely loathe this part of the ‘job,’ it is the absolute bain of my existance. I know it, the students know it and so does my administration.  There is really no way to make something you hate into something fun. BUT, I try. We play games with the practice tests… like trash can basketball.  The object here is to tear out one page at a time, as neatly as you can.  Answer the questions on the page and when everyone is finished, we ball up the page and try to make a “basket.”  Then one at a time someone comes up, takes a page out of the basket and answers a question.  Adds a little harmless fun to the day. (I did mention I am a little goofy, right?)

            I believe students need to understand that the test is important, but it isn’t going to teach you to be a creative thinker. I put the emphisis on the test where it belongs, in the administration’s and the beurocrats minds and not in our classroom.  I tell my students that it is more important to learn how to learn than it is to learn WHAT to learn. 

            Although a classroom can be fun and exciting,  I expect the best from my students at all times. If their best is a 100% or their best is a 40% doesn’t matter, as long as they give me their best.  I also let them know that as I expect their best, I will always give them my best.

            Lastly, (so I can get off of my soap box and give my feet a rest) teachers are not isolated in their little fiefedoms upon their own request, however, we do know that too many outside interruptions, interrupt the flow of learing in the classroom.   I close my door when the teacher across the hall, (and a very excellent teacher she is,) begins singing the “State Song.” (Excellent teacher, not so excellent singer.) I don’t hate music, I don’t hate her or her singing, I just do the same thing differently.  Thats all.

            Oh, one last thing and I promise I will get off of my soapbox. 

            Thank you to ALL of my fellow teachers who are the lowest paid master’s level career followers in the nation.  I didn’t get into teaching for the money, as I am assured that you all didn’t either.  There are many, many other professions we could have chose.  I thank you for taking your nights and weekends to grade papers and to develop lessons that are fun, engaging, deversified for multiple styles of learning. Thank you for paying for your own continuing education classes through out the school year and most of the summer.  I thank you for the countless hours you have spent in the summer setting up your “secluded fiefdom” so your students can come in on the first day and feel welcomed.  Thank you for all the money you spend keeping local business thriving from selling supplies for your bulletin boards, learning stations, craft areas and what nots. Thank you for spending hours at the yard sales checking out books that you can pick up for your students, then seeing a toy that one of them would like to play with during free time.  I thank you for your efforts in teaching the students that just because their family life is a mess doesn’t mean that they have to follow suit.  Thank you for teaching them to tie shoes, blow their own noses, and zip their own jackets.  Thank you for trying to teach them that we are all different, and thats OK.   I thank you for taking you time to listen to the students, to really hear what they say.  For not judging them on their looks, but for looking inside and finding tha person they truelly are. I thank you for your leadership and  for helping mold our leaders of tomorrow.  Lord knows that many parents aren’t helping them.  Thank you for using your own money to buy things for students, like pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, backpacks, shoes, coats, lunches, dinners and everything else you help supply.  I thank you for taking the time to read articles about changing our educational system, for caring enough to read my rants and most of all,  I thank you for helping create our country, for you are the ones who are shaping our leaders of tomorrow, our law makers, our care givers.  Our lawyers, doctors, dentists, scientists, arcitects, artists, bankers, business persons, zoologists all have a teacher to thank.  As one teacher to another…. Thank you.

          • Maria Plant

            A huge assumption! I have never seen such a drab lifeless classroom as you have described…ours are full of color, life, excitement and learning!

          • disqus_gjHpk9LiJ1

            We like being isolated from the new-agey, kooky teachers who bring their data-free ideas to our school, spend a year or two destroying our students with “cutting edge” educational “theories” like these, then get fired or quit because their students can’t pass a test. Yeah, we isolate to stay away from those folks. They’re scary.

        • Anonymous

           Well….I don’t know about nowadays, but when I was in high school in the ’90’s, I NEVER used the school restroom in less it was urgent, if you know what I mean. I went to the only high school in our county, so I’m guess we’re considered small, under 200 in my class, but the restrooms were DIRTY.  In my school, unless you had a good reason, you didn’t get a pass, you had to go between classes, and I hear that’s still true, at least in my area. A co-worker and I were just talking about bathroom bullying this week because her son is afraid to go to the bathroom in MIDDLE school because people are getting bullied. :/

      • eric

        I definitely DID avoid the restrooms in my junior high and high school out of fear of bullying, plus a dislike for cigarette smoke. A lot of private toilets would have been a big help to me. I also never ate in my high school cafeteria out of fear of bullying. I went across the street and raided a hospital’s vending machines instead.

      • Francescarlson

        I avoided the bathrooms all four years of high school …they were too dangerous to use. Maybe some teachers are completely out of touch with their students?

      • Af056

        Well I never went to the toilet at school for the first four years of elementary.

      • Patrick

        ADHD does not exist. Psychiatry in a whole is a pseudoscience.

        • spatz columbo

          Patrick, you’re about right. The recently deceased intellectual, Dr. Thomas Szasz, Psychiatrist and Professor, he taught at SUNY Upstate Medical College, in Syracuse, NY. He wrote hundreds of papers and 30 booksiijs

    • Marwil3449

      Can you say “forced schooling?”  Yep, that’s never worked and still doesn’t!  Why do you collude with a system that is more demeaning and cruel than U.S. prison systems?  And “teachers” nothing more than automatons and enforcers of a psychotic system developed to turn people into mindless, entities that obey rather than free thinkers who actually learn and create meaning lives for them selves and their communities…instead of cogs in the corporate wheel?  Mmmmm, I’m guessing you were schooled…hope you’re not one of the many “noble” teachers scouting out prime young flesh to corrupt for your own sick satisfaction!

      • Ctlynn13

        That kind of rude blanket statement has no place in an intellectual discussion.  There are bad apples in every profession, but the vast majority of teachers are dedicated, loving people who work long hours for little pay because they have hope for the future generation.  They nurture every student, blind to income, race, or social class.  If you are not interested in participating in the tax-funded school system, there are many alternatives.  I hope the one you pursue also includes a program on tolerance of people who have different views.

      •  Still looking around on the page for the “dislike” button.

      • Not96intheshade

        Teachers; automatons and enforcers of a psychotic system????? I’m guessing you are a Drop-out!!? 

      • Marwil3449,

        Let me start by saying that I’m sorry.  I’m sorry because I feel that you had a terrible experience in school.  You are not alone.  I too had a HORRIBLE time in school.  Since my father had custody of my sister and I and since he was married 6 times during my school years, we moved around a lot.  I was always the “new guy” and such was always picked on and bullied.  Once my mother was given custody things should have changed.  Stable home life and all, but they didn’t because I wasn’t in a ‘click.’  During high school, to make matters worse, my step-father passed away after a 3 year battle with cancer.  I feel your pain.

        However, instead of grouping all teachers into one category, perhaps you should rethink your position.  Yes, there are some crappy teachers, but most are not.  Most teachers truely care about their students and strive to get them to think “outside the box.”

        As for “forced schooling” as you put it, not working?  I think you should take a GOOD look at other countries.  Vietnam for example.  Their students go to school from 6am to 4pm, go home for dinner then return to school at 6pm until 9pm six days a week.  Are their science and math scores above ours? Yep.  Are they creating more advanced thinkers?  Perhaps.  There is a massively strong correlation between how much you know and how well you can think creatively.  Take Leonardo de Vinci as an example.  An extremelly smart and well educated man for his time.  He developed such things as the elevator and helicopter hundreds of years before we had the right materials to make them a reality.

        I believe your statements should be re-examined for truthfullness rather than simply stating your opinion which is based on emotion rather than fact.

        • Tracy

          I believe everyone here should read “Conclusions and Recommendations for the Social Studies” put out by the Carnegie
          Corporation 1934. Schools are doing exactly what they were meant to do. Remember, Leonardo never attended public school. His love of learning was never destroyed, he was never told what he had to learn at any given moment. I believe in the future, people will gasp in horror at how crazy we were to put children as young as 5 in dark buildings, make them sit in straight rows and not allow any movement or voice. When our presious children could not conform, we drugged them. Talk about child abuse. Education is a precious thing. Schooling is not education.

    • Bholly72

      Obviously the authors have never had to teach a day in their lives. 

      • Totally agree with this. I’ll agree with #8 though, probably not a bad idea.

    • “Teacher” like you who think bullying isn’t a big problem made my entire public school experience a living nightmare. “Teachers” actually WATCHED and did absolutely nothing to help me. Probably thinking it was better for me to learn to deal with it on my own. I’m guessing most kids who take guns to school probably had similar teachers.

    • Maria Plant

      Well spoken, SindyE. I believe that teaching is not about technology – that’s very narrow thinking indeed! It’s about being human, it’s about building relationships, connecting, expressing, communicating, empathy-building, being socially responsible, questioning, emoting, exploration, creativity, story-telling, possiblities, goal-setting, the joy, the dance, the music, singing! It’s about teaching resiliency, resourcefulness, friendship skills, trust-building,leadership, cooperation, physical and emotional risk-taking…how do you do all this on an iPad? Technology tools for research are but a leaf on the branches of the Tree of Knowledge and Learning!

    • Dan Burk

      I agree with most of this list and I did get my degree in Education, even got my Masters in Educational Administration by taking online classes and working on my Doctorate the same way. I have spent years in the classroom at every level Grade School to the University level. Presented time and time again on Educational Technology.

    • gwenn

      Old dogs have a hard time learning new tricks. No one is criticizing you, personally. Things change. And thank goodness for that! By the way, my children go to a school like the one described, and I couldn’t be happier.

  • I like your forward thinking, although I don’t agree with some of the points.  But, that’s what gets us to think and see if change is needed for our students.  

  • KJ

    From an architectural perspective, I’m fine with these (though not all practical at this time) but it’s going to take much more than building design to revolutionize education.

  • ScEd

    Be careful before you blame impractical solutions on education professors. I am an education professor/researcher, and prior to that, was a teacher for years in an inner city middle school. I’ve busted my butt to teach children well in difficult conditions, and I now bust my butt to prepare teachers who will thrive and hopefully stay in our public schools. Most of the folks who propose these “out of the box” and “forward thinking” impractical Utopian ideas are either people outside of education with a political axe to grind or folks in private industry who want to make money off of their latest fad. While colleges of education certainly have their fair share of individuals who are sadly uninformed, a good percentage of us have been there, regularly work in schools, and spend our days fighting against uninformed proposals that too often make it into legislative agendas. Perhaps the saddest thing about my job is that I’m constantly fighting behind the scenes on behalf of teachers, and then get disrespected by them because I left the classroom. We need to work together, folks. We’re on the same side.

  • “6.   SCHOOL CORRIDORS. Corridors take up a lot of valuable real estate in a school and are unoccupied most of the time. If rooms are arranged in groups around a common space, corridors are not necessary. And unused corridors can be made into informal learning spaces.”

    We did just this when designing and constructing our 6th Grade Campus, the anchor of our 21st century learning vision. We have commons areas that are used for small group, large-group, and individual learning spaces outside of classrooms that have glass for walls to eliminate that boxed-in feeling, and contribute to a collaborative environment. Now if only we could tear down all of our school buildings and start over with this concept in mind.

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  • “Teachers often learn to teach in isolated boxes and perpetuate that style throughout their career. Interior windows get “papered over” and blinds are shut. Yet out of school, people work in teams and are visually and often aurally connected.”
    Out of school, people don’t work with 30 easily distracted children.

  • Ctlynn13

    The only thing a child can teach another child is how to be a child.  Teachers are there to facilitate learning, maintain camaraderie/effective classroom flow (discipline) and be a role model for behavior and expectations for a start.  They’re also counselor and mentor; experts in their field, charged with transmitting knowledge to the next generation.  Peer learning as review and small group lessons are great, but don’t forget the reason your child is in school is to learn from a person with a deep source of knowledge and pedagogy: I want my child to learn from a person with a college degree — someone capable of checking for understanding, tutoring kids with learning disability, and maintaining a positive learning environment.

    • Ed

       Actually, there is a benefit at times for having children help fellow classmates with certain things.  Two personal examples of mine include learning the difference between “there, their, and they’re” in 4th grade and helping a classmate, freshman year in high school, to understand a math equation.

      There do come certain times when a child simply can’t easily grasp a notion that is being taught by a teacher and it’s not always the easiest thing for someone to think about how the information can be translated for better understanding.  That’s when you get other kids who have picked up on what’s being taught and have them convey how they came to understand the lesson.  There’s always going to be at least one or more times in a class where a select few “just don’t get it”, but having a fellow classmate point out a way of viewing the problem can be a very efficient facilitator.

      • Mrsg

        I love my middle schoolers. I’ve taught 7th/8th grade science for 17 years, and I have learned that under that “tough” sometimes challenging exterior there is still a little person. With respect, laughter, and yes, love, those tough exteriors melt away and the wonderful young person emerges. When a middle schooler knows you care about them, they trust and they learn. We also have a lot of fun with very few behavior problems. I feel very blessed to have been a part of their lives and they know that.

        • Not96intheshade

          That is really encouraging to read! I am in an Education Program at NGCSU and will be teaching middle school science and math. I agree that developmentally, these kids are at or approaching a major crossroads, and I could not be looking more forward to being there to help create a safe environment (it may be the only one they have) for them to decide which way to go.

    • My 1st grader goes to an exploratory learning school with mixed grades.  Kinder and 1st together, 2nd and third together, 4th and 5th together.  They often bring in the older kids to help the younger ones with reading and math.  It works very well.  It helps the kids learning to be taught by kids and it really cements concepts for the ones teaching.  It also promotes community, which is a value that has been lost in the US.  

      • Stillretired2005

        Sounds like my second grade (with third grade combination) at Waco, GA in 1952-53. I enjoyed doing third grade work during my study time. Later I was able to skip the sixth grade, entirely. At that time the entire school, grades 1-12, had an enrollment of 150. I think consolidation for sheer efficiency is the main enemy of education, BTW: I am a retired high school teacher.

        • XJerseyTeacher

          I am glad you had a great experience. Most schools have way more than 10-13 students in each class; classes are closer to double or triple that amount, especially in well populated cities or urban areas. I think if class sizes were smaller we could do a lot more with them, including combining grades. It is absurd to expect 1-2 teachers to effectively teach 35-55 students, all with different needs and learning abilities, even with the help of older and wiser students.

          (Before anyone blasts me for my opinions, I want to let you all know that I taught for 3 years in an urban school district.)

    • I teach 2nd and 3rd grade special education.  I have an 8-1-1 class of emotionally disturbed (ED) students, mainly behavior issues.

      I have students teaching students all the time.  I have one who teaches another how to tie his shoes because his mom can’t.  I have students teaching others manners, how to say please and thank you. I have students who help with math, reading and other subjects.

      My question for you… do you have a college degree?  Are you not capable of checking for understanding?  I will assume yes to both of the above since you are commenting here, but many of my student’s parents don’t and can’t.  Unfortunately, we have only a certain amount of time in the day and we have to cram soooo much in.  While the teacher is tutoring the kids with a learning disability, what should the other students do? Sit and wait? Sit and watch? Have free time?  NO. They can be in small groups teaching each other.  The teacher is ultimately responsible for each student and each students overall learning of the material necessary, but the other students are great at helping each other.  They have insights on each other the teacher could only wish they had.  I can’t think like a 3rd grader can, but I know another 3rd grader who understands the material and can show how to do it, so why NOT utilize this resource???

  • Blarneystoner840

    a bunch of claptrap from academics that screwed up the U.S. education system in the first place. 

  • Sjfone

    Let them all go to one big gym, so we can become a nation of ball-bouncers.

  • AHawk91

    Okay, this is a little idealistic and maybe not the most financially realistic, but it’s alway good to push the conventions and challenge what has become the norm. Especially if the norm isn’t evolving. So, this is interesting and fun, and at least promoting some dialogue. Here’s one more idea… 

    One thing that I think was overlooked here was the benefit of fresh air, air circulation and even introducing plant life into the learning spaces. Addressing indoor AIR QUALITY and its effects on lethargy and concentration troubles would take this to another level. While we’re at it, how about using the broader spectrum natural lighting.  

  • Also, beating children. That is legal & in many US states. Finland has excellent education, so I would look to them (hitting kids is illegal, for one thing, & rightfully so).

  • Trenalg

    I think these are all very good ideas.  I especially like using natural light…not just in the gym, but throughout the school.  And private bathrooms!  To facilitate dialogue, how about arranging seating (not the stiff school desks/chairs, but comfy chairs) in one or two or three or more small circles in the classroom.  The “teacher” should function more as a facilitator, and should join these circles, sitting on the same level as the students, resisting the urge to direct or dominate the discussions.  One of my pet peeves, having worked in public schools, is teachers who yell over the noise of distracted kids who are all talking at once.  The teachers need to learn to speak very quietly, and to instill in the students the vital importance of listening carefully, not just to the teacher but to each other, not interrupting others.  I disagree with the comment that kids can only learn to be kids from each other.  Kids can learn lots from each other, including academics.  And they should.  All should be challenged and encouraged to participate, and as much as possible there should not be “right” vs. “wrong” answers, just opinions worth considering.

    • tiredofthesekids

      “Teachers” need to be teachers not sitting in a circle deluding kinds into thinking they are on the same level as the teacher. They are not. It’s this kind of thing that makes kids grow up to be the entitled, self-centered and stupid college students that I have to deal with every day. There are teachers and there are professors, and they are usually smarter and more knowledgable than the current self-absorbed undergrad could ever hope to be. So sit down, shut up, listen and have a bit of respect for the National Academy of Sciences member giving the lecture. Because, you know, they actually do know more than you and your friends do. 

      • eric

        In any class there needs to be variety: some lecture, some group work, some peer-to-peer instruction or review, some down time, some physical activity, some quiet individual work, some play.

  • Ed

    It seems like Greg Stack literally wants to change every single aspect of schools.  While some of the ideas seem to be rather solid, others seem a bit exaggerated.

    One of the points that I disagree with is his place on libraries.  Books may not be the be-all and end-all but they’re certainly the core foundation of the place.  And exactly how informal is he suggesting its use to be?  Libraries are considered somewhat of a haven, where you can research and study in relative peace and quiet.  If you want a more informal location to do research, well, that’s why libraries let you check most books out, so you can bring the study aides with you.  Stack also says the library should “stimulate a spirit of inquiry in students”, but shouldn’t that be one of the purposes of the entire school in general?

    It seems like the only things he’s left untouched are outside playgrounds and janitorial services.

  • Anonymous

    Marwil3449’sa presentation has earmarks of a typical New World Order shill, parroting the lie, offering nothing jnew or by way of proof, and backing it up with name calling.
    Not for the ilk of Marwil3449 to ask, if the teacher is not providing a stream of information, how will what can be considered the average student, on their own recognizance and with limited investment of energy, will reconstruct what it took mankind 5000 years or more to develop!
    The quislings pushing the denaturing of education utilize no end of carefully worded m,isrepresentations both of traditional systems and new ones.
    They said schools should be decentralized, so there wasn’t a monolithic overlord whose decisions ignored the “specific needs of each community”. Then, when decentalized, no show jobs were more easily handed out by the loiwer level “district heads” and, with curricula not standardized, cetain communities ended up doing poorly in required standardized areas of proficiency!
    They “argued” to do away with uniforms because they “discouraged individuality”, while each weariong what they wanted “allowed for full freedom of expression”. But, now, in schools without uniforms, student are agitated for hours woindering what that day’s ensemble “says”, often ending up discouraged and dissolute. And, oin all cases, not putting time to studies! What’s more, it inculcates the sense that the entire content of a thing is in its immediate outward appearance.
    And the wide open, single story school, in a gigantic campus, model was for the sole purpose of allowing municipalities to seize valuable land by “eminent domain”, to make it part of city holdings, to be sold later, improved, to developer cronies at pennies on the dollar!
    The like of Marwil3449 spill words on the page and leave it to the NWO target auidence of gullible dullards to think that, just because something is in print and shows contempt, it must be true. In fact, it’s the program of constantly altered “education” today that mankes students prisoners and slaves, subjecting them to worthless garbage protocols that leave them worse off than before. “Whole language”, which created the flood of “dyslexia” cases; “relevance”, which left students unable to think about things unless they happened yesterday, two miles away; “self esteem” which told them they didn’t have to even study to be perfect; “Montessori” which essentially said all students need a specific environment to achieve, leaving many to fail because they couldn’t create that environment everywhere at the drop of a hat; calculators in kindergarten, foisted by the lie by Carl Sagan that “calculators are to mathematics what the alphabet is to language”, ignoring the fact that numerals and mathematical symbols are the equivalent in mathematics of the alphabet in language; “computers in the classroom”; “role models”; students grading themselves; grading on a curve, introduced to hide the fact that students were being so dumbed down by malignant influences in pop culture that they could not longer function at the level of their parents; LATIC, whose claim to fame is that its proponents were so stupid, they actually included an April Fool’s article as a valid science project!
    And, frankly, anyone who would recommend that buildings like gyms, where kids are playng everything from basketball to dodge ball and are running, jumping and flying all around, should necessarily have huge windows for them to smash or crash though, is so completely intellectually, mentally and ethically questionable as to deseve almost no credibility outside of giving their name, and maybe not even that!
    Traditional schooling produced Newton, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Pasteur, Keats, Maxwell, Twain, Yeats, Sargent, O’Neill. Any who get recognized today do so because they connive their way into the societal power structure, then arrange to have a minor development, based on the work of those who went before, given exposure and press like it was an entirely new discovery.

  • Anonymous
  • Mary

    Ugh. Might want to try teaching first, get a little practical experience, before going public declaring what you personally think is needed in schools these days. I find this article… well, sad. Sadly out of touch.

  • M’

    #11. Corporal Punishment: I thought this was over wish but some states still allow this outrageous form of discipline.  It needs to stop now.

  • Mjkropf

    Some children can do well amidst hustle and bustle, but others are distractable.   Perhaps some may be less distractable if honed-in on an I-pad or a similar device, but that only fosters a tunnel-vision method of education, removing interaction and discussion.  
    Some delimited area will be necessary for younger children and those with ADD or other learning problems unless a school has a very small population.
    Absence of halls may not be possible where some room isolation is necessary.  It may be minimized if rooms can be coupled.
    I do agree about the eating arrangements and would like physical education outdoors, if possible, but for bad weather, some greenhouse-like structure may be impractical unless the windows are made of Lexan or some similar shatter-resistant agent.   Libraries still have some limited relevance for Art works that may not be reproduced on computer screens all that well yet and perhaps for music in a school with performance settings.   Maybe the old Library can morph into a Media Room?
    Large restrooms are a bane, but how can staff monitor multiple, scattered bathrooms?   One would not put CCTV in them for obvious reasons and there is no staff to survey activity that might occur out of the way.

  • B.Lin

    I am amazed at how many teachers have whined about their pay in reply to this! Teachers aren’t that badly paid. I think the first step in fixing education – in Australia would be to force all teachers who have no real world work experience to work outside of a school for a minimum of 2 years before letting them back in the classroom. Teaching is about preparing children to face life – that’s hard to do if you’ve never done it. It should not be possible to go straight from school to Uni back to school, you need to work and experience life outside of a school first.

    • Cassondra

      Teachers aren’t paid that badly? Maybe in Australia they get paid more but I know a district here whose starting salary for teachers is $25,000 which if you figure in the number of hours of prep, grading papers, and other jobs “as assigned” means about $11.00 an hour for a highly educated person. These teachers have “real world jobs” during their months on “summer vacations” to make ends meet. Here a teenage McDonalds employee makes $8.00 an hour. So tell me how they don’t get paid poorly for having to deal with the redtape that they deal with and STILL manage to give students an education.

    • GM

      As a teacher of almost thirteen years, I must disagree with you B.Lin.  As professional educators we typically earn tens of thousands of dollars less than other college graduates.  Yes, we have chosen this profession and will be paid according to its standards.  However, I would like to point out that there is an enormous amount of preparation and other outside duties which we are not compensated for, but are crucial to effective teachng. 
      For example, there have been cycles where I spent two to three hours per week calling parents, from my home.  Fortunately, weekend minutes are now free from your cell phone.  In the last two years I have learned to start writing grants on my own time to acquire supplemental teaching materials for my students.  The lists of duties really don’t stop. 
      In the end when compared to the effort that is not only required , but expected of educators the average salary of sixty thousand per year is a little paltry, if you ask me.   

  • jane sinc

    I can’t help but think that Mr. Stack has little to no experience working in public school systems. As an architect, why would he? But that lack of experience shows.

    OF COURSE students are required to power down their cell phones and other devices…it is virtually impossible to teach a classroom of students while they text and check facebook.

    Some of these changes could do very well in smaller private schools. Those institutions have dramatically more control over whom they will accept, and typically enjoy greater interaction with more involved parents who often have more free time, ready access to transportation, etc.
    That, combined with smaller class size, creates much greater ability to enforce behavioral guidelines in the classroom.

    In public schools, though, suggestions like “open classrooms” have never taken root, and probably never will, because they would make running the school, controlling problem behavior and teaching students FAR more difficult. Individual classes are isolated, windows to hallways or busy streets are blocked with posters, and libraries are generally kept quiet,
    because children, neurologically, have less ability to block out distraction.

    The idea of more, smaller bathrooms located close to classrooms is good, but again, would be problematic in very large schools, where each class contains many children. There would have to be at least one general restroom to prevent accidents.

    Using natural lighting in gyms is another excellent thought, but many schools have been doing that for decades.

  • Mootztown

    We had a system that won WWII, built the largest economy the world has ever known, developed the computer and it’s support systems, put a person on the moon, and much more.  We should really exam what was wrong with that system before dismantling it.  We have no proof, really, that Mr. Stack’s, et al, redesigns are any better or worse than what came before, however, we can examine just what has been accomplished by the generation of, let’s say, the last 30 years or so.  We shouldn’t tear down, re-design, or disregard anything just because something else sounds good.

  • Cbarrious

    1.  in affluent neighborhoods, yes, kids are always-on connected. but in poorer neighborhoods technology literacy often doesn’t exist beyond texting and facebook. if every kid carted around an ipad and was trained how to use it for educational, non-angry-birds purposes then, yes, the author has a point.
    2. small group learning is great but remember it’s the teacher who may have to manage 10 or more of these small groups at a time and not all of these groups will have an interest in leaning regardless of the setting.
    3. completely agree. teachers should be facilitators not dictators of learning. but this is not a problem of design. it’s a problem of training.
    6. corridors are a function of environment. can students operate succesfully outside during a new york december or las vegas september?
    9. how do you decentralize food service and still feed 3,000 kids a day?
    10. how many street gangs are there in finland? what is the general graffiti situation in finland?

    interesting points but the author seems to be running on the assumption that every student is fairly well off, educationally-applied-technology literate, and is in school because of a desire to learn and not because of federally mandated law.

    • Not96intheshade

      Previously, I was not an advocate of small group work, but now that I am in a Teacher Education program I have a different view. Small group work, combined with direct instruction is a very useful practice. When a person enters the working world he or she will most definitely be working in small groups, sharing ideas, and being creative and innovative.
      As far as “operating successfully outside.” We are very adaptable in regards to our environment, and will respond accordingly.

  • Anonymous

    This comment may be removed, but there is point about teacher pay. A few years ago, the wretched municipality of effete overpaid corporate crooks called Middletown arranged with their evidently corrupt local “court” system to order that local teachers be forced to engage in non good faith “arbitration”, which amounted to a town appointed “arbitrator” saying, “You’re getting what we want to pay you and you don’t have the right to contest the ruling!”. Any teachers who objected to this attempt at institutional rape and went on strike would be arrested. The teachers went on strike and the town went about the wholesale violation of human rights by jailing them.
    While the teachers were in jail, however, the craven greedy in the town realized that they had to start hiring special attendants to keep track of their children at home during the teachers’ absence. And this really caused the money grubbers to explode! They were paying up to $100 a day to have their children attended at home, and they weren’t even being taught anything! Teacher, it turned out, at the very least, served as nannies for their kids, in addition to getting some lessons across! Just as nannies, the vaerage teachers were earning, for classes of 30 or so children, as much as $3000 a day! That’s not what they were being paid, but it was the value of the wrk they did! That comes out to $15,000 a week or, in an average year, $500,000! Each teacher, just as a nanny, does half a million dollars worth of work a year! But they are paid no more than, say $70,000, and many only about $50,000. With craven money grubbers resenting even that!

  • JDog

    I’m sure most administrators know what would benefit their schools, and the bottom line is that almost all of these suggestions take significant amounts of money.  My son has attended an underfunded inner-city school that couldn’t afford to pay a full-time art teacher and held the “gifted” classes in a glorified storage closet. He now attends an affluent suburban public school in New England that has many of the upgrades the author encourages and basically runs like a mini college. The difference, sadly, is money. This is a much more difficult problem to fix in the American system of education than just not knowing where to put the new skylights or how to serve the organic lunch.

  • Elwood Downey

    I was in public school in the 70s and I hated the “open” and “do your own thing” approach. I knew I was just a kid and sure didn’t want to to “learn” from other kids. I wanted to learn from the teachers. For that to happen, the teachers need both knowledge and authority and kids need a structured disciplined environment.

  • Jsmiller

    Who wrote this drivel, a sub prime pusher?  The only one that has any merit at all is #5.  This is the kind of nonsense that perpetuates ignorant perspectives to a complicated problem.

  • drone_future

    1. Teachers that continue spreading lies about American History.  Genocide and slavery.

    2. Massive brainwashing due to the out-of-date grading system, which promotes competition         and structure above individuality and acceptance.

    Put those two on the list please.

    P.S. How about a subject called, “Massive World Dominance” or “The Myth that is Democracy”

  • I am old enough now to have seen almost all of these suggestions tried.  Many worked incredibly well… I went to a newly-built grade school where, until 2nd grade, there was a restroom and a small kitcheny-sort-of-area in every classroom.  In 2nd grade, we moved to a building built in 1926, and then, after 6th grade, to a building built in 1909.  Yeah, I remember avoiding the 2nd floor boys room so I wouldn’t choke on the cigarette smoke.  The vice-principal’s solution to smoking?  Lock all the bathrooms!

    The “open space” classroom model was tried all over the country in the 1970s, and rarely worked well because, well, humans have necks.  If something interesting was going on “over there,” you could see it, and you could get distracted by it.  That, and this was usually done in buildings that had absolutely no exterior windows, meaning they cost a fortune to light, heat and air-condition.

    Back to that 1926 grade school:  no air conditioning.  Didn’t need it.  They had enormous windows.  True, this was north of the Mason-Dixon line, but it could get pretty warm by June 1.

    “Department organizations” is a byproduct of enormous school consolidation starting during the Eisenhower Administration and which continues to this day, where small rural schools are abandoned and students are transported many miles to centralized schools, as if “economies of scale” could be applied to education the way it had been applied to making Chevrolets.

    Some of this stuff worked.  Some didn’t.  Some lessons were learned. Some were learned a little too well.

  • bang the frap on.  I hate to imagine where I would be today if I had not spent the last 20 years unlearning the nonsense I learned during 13 years of instituional education.

  • Anonymous

    1) GROUP WORK-


    I can’t even count the number of “group efforts” I’ve carried throughout my education, and I’m bloody sick of it. Group work and peer-anything is just a way for teachers and professors to do less work themselves under the guise of a “real world” working environment. NEWS FLASH, in the real world 75% of these students would be FIRED on the spot, and the majority of these projects end up being me trying to unscrew a light-bulb while my ignoramus partners spin me the wrong way. NEVER ONCE has a group paid-off in ANY way, unless that way is them forgetting material, suggesting retarded ideas, or not showing up (the last is best-case scenario). Group projects in school are a tool used to enable outright laziness in students AND teachers.

    • Not96intheshade

      Where did you get 75%? Was this just an arbitrary, large percentage to suggest reliability? Group work is real, in the real world. Collaboration is real, in the real world. Group work is harder for teachers and professors, not an easy lesson. Orchestrating projects, managing different personalities within each group. Evoking the idea of collective rather that individual are just some of the things teachers and professors have to think about before, during, and after group work. And then they have to grade the group work based on multiple factors.

  • Anonymous

    funny thing is i totally agree with teacher-centered learning. the
    teacher is the expert and needs to retain mental sanity as they work to
    engage 30+ kids. i believe teachers should own their style and do things
    that make it easier for them to maintain a good mental state and a good working environment. sometimes
    that means direct instruction, sometimes that means group work, sometimes that means assigned seats. teachers
    are the experts, let them work in a way that doesn’t make them pull their
    own hair out.

  • Anonymous

    3) Team Sports-

    In Europe team sports education are unrelated much like little-league. American school districts are forced to keep coaches with no motivation to teach on the payroll, and they often get put in charge of classes like music and art. The sports programs are never self-sufficient and they encourage elitism, bullying, and a false sense of importance that is totally unrelated to education. Exceptions are made to retain athletes despite poor academic performance, and these programs are funded while class sizes grow and other academic programs are cut. Teamwork and cooperation are used to justify their existence, when in my experience these concepts are perverted, becoming a darker “us vs. them” mob-mentality desensitization of youth. In time when budgets are thin, education should be about academics; sports can exist and even thrive outside the taxpayers dollar.

  • Anonymous

    This list is fine as the beginning of a discussion, but not as a solution.

    For example, #2 argues that since people do not remember having meaningful learning experiences in places “designed for learning,” we should eliminate “learning in prescribed places.” This is a faulty argument.

    Should we design (or redesign) our schools based on old memories? Do we ask adults what they remembered learning when they were 8? Perhaps the author and I would agree if he wrote a longer article, but I want prescribed learning spaces based on quality research, not faulty memories.

  • Robin Reads

    I have been teaching for 34 years and have my students working in groups since day one. I have always believed in an interactive class setting. I know many teachers who do this. Our eating area has picnic bench style tables that do not need to be move, is open air with a roof and pull down sides in bad weather and is easily converted into an activity area when needed. Our library has always been called a media center and is used for assemblies, dances, group learning events, and meetings. All of us would love to have plenty of computers in our rooms but we do not have money to buy them or the necessary outlets to plug them in and we do not have wireless ability. The lab at least lets us do internet activities, and reminds us that many of our students in our extremely poor area do not have regular access to a computer when we see their unfamiliarity with computer use. When we have teacher meetings we constantly ask for more time to observe each other and work collaboratively but unfortunately the district office always has a “new” program for us to learn and implement, only to replace it the next school year. Students who return to say hi often mention a strong memory and these usually are about an assembly, a field trip, a sporting event, the Washington DC trip, a special or unusual lesson, unfortunately these have activities have gone the way of the empty wallet. Change is needed, no question, but how that can actually happen remains a mystery, especially in these days of testing above all else. 

  • OutOfBox

    Make the “four walls” go away!
    Reminds me of the Twilight Zone “Obsolete Man” with Burgess Meredith!
     “you walk into this room at your own risk, because it leads to the future, not a future that will be but one that might be. this is not a new world; it is simply an extension of what began in the old one. it has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. it has refinements, technological advancements, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. but like every one of the super states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.”

  • If one has a hammer then everything looks like a nail. Greg Stack is a school designer and architect, not a teacher.   Often Students need to have a calm environment  to assimilate information and need quite to produce their own thoughts.   Yes, there may be too much of that in school, but to say we must give them open classrooms and access to the web 100% of the time is just too much distraction.    As a teacher in Scandinavia, and in South Korea, I can say that  these systems are not that different than American schools. The biggest difference I see is that it is the students that do well academically that the the “cool” kids, not the sports “heroes”.  

  • OutOfBox

    The key is learning how to put a spigot on a volcano before these kids blow their dome.  With 30 trapped in 4 walls, a teacher has a hard time accomplishing that.  And with budget cuts, it’s going to get worse. 

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  • Scooter

    Half baked.

  • occam24

    Mostly good advice, except for the standard elite need to mush all the classes together.  

    For experiential learning, small groups work best; and the only way to have small groups is to have good walls.

    Shouldn’t we start learning SOMETHING from too-big-to-fail banks, the destructiveness of Free Trade, and the collapse of the EU? 

    Decoupling is natural and healthy, smashing everything together is suicidal.

  • Brian Fellow

    If you’re not a teacher you have no business commenting on this article, in the same way that if you haven’t had cancer, you can’t practice oncology. 

  • Ed Sullivan

    I really disagree with everything you write about in this article. No thanks.

  • Albert Hooperdini

    My brother was a straight A, honor roll student, and was a bit shy. He then got placed into an ‘open classroom’ experiment where he went from straight A to failing. Turns out these environments really favor more outgoing children. The school district provided no other option so my mom home-schooled and sure enough … back to straight A’s. 

  • Earrational

    I’ll second that…
    Classrooms that offer some shelter against external stimulus provide a chance for focus.  Especially since we are dealing with children here. 

    That said, they should set aside time for open play, with interesting tools, like during an extended lunch period.  When I was in 4th and 5th grade, 4 days a week was like being a dog chained to a tree in a dusty backyard: pure boredom and guilt.  The remaining day of the week, I was in gifted program, full of toys and puzzles and conversational teachers not tied to an anxiety-based curriculum.  It was heaven on earth.

  • Jontod1

    This all sounds good, and makes sense to me, so I am quite sure it will be ignored and not implemented by most schools.
    Most educators don’t like being corrected, or told what and/or how to teach or in what environment.
    Perhaps I am just being negative by I doubt it.

  • Ringtwister

    I only agree with some of these…I like the idea of teachers working on curriculum together and trying to relate different areas of learning (#5), the idea of creating more natural light in gyms, and the idea about the bathrooms. I can kind of see some of the advantages of having more communal spaces and classrooms that encourage group activities. But I also think a teacher does need to guide their students, and it would be hard to get a group of kids to focus in conjoined classrooms…plus, I loved my classrooms when I was in school, especially in elementary school. Anyway, I can see the sense in some of these, but some, not so much. I don’t think food areas should be scattered around, because how would you clean up properly? 

  • Ringtwister

    Oh, and NO, I say, to making libraries more conducive to group work and “less about books” (#7)…books are already being shoved to the side. Can we not have any spaces for quiet study and research? NO I SAY!

    • Not96intheshade

      How about integrating the research aspect along with accommodation for group work? Rooms within the library is what my university has. They are private and can be reserved.

  • Laura

    Let me start by saying that this concept sounds wonderful. However, I feel like this post assumes that most children are enthusiastic participants in their education. I have spent a lot of time in my childrens’ elementary school as a volunteer & a sub, and I can tell you this is not the case. Many of them do not even want to be there. Perhaps a fresh school concept would change that for a bit, but I suspect the novelty would wear thin. Maybe Mr. Stack had the higher grades in mind when wrote this, but I can tell you, an open concept, as lovely & altruistic as it sounds, would NOT work in elementary school. Children are so easily distracted by any activity outside their space, and the idea of having to talk over the din of the other classes all day tires me out just thinking about it. Oh, and the thought of these easily distracted, often disrespectful children eating anywhere is crazy. Instead of containing the mess, it would be everywhere. I live in a town where the old-timers aren’t even willing to pay a nickel a day, LITERALLY, to upgrade our school system’s technology infrastructure so that we CAN do away with the computer labs & be connected everywhere. I hate to sound like a pessimist, but this sounds like a private school for the wealthy or a special school for (pardon the expression please) “gifted” children.

  • Shianne

    If teachers weren’t required to teach 35-40 kids (with no assistance) of extremely varying mental and emotional levels nothing but the increasing number of standardized tests the government requires to receive school funding, if teacher didn’t have to be a PARENT to all of these children who’s parents think that’s what teachers are FOR, and if they didn’t have to spend so much time and energy bearing crushing waves of community hostility and blame from people like so many of you in these posts who think you’re experts in education and yet do nothing to support it…maybe teachers would be able to teach more critically thinking, project-based, creative classes for more successful, happier, invested students.
    TALK TO YOUR GOVERNMENT. Give your teachers freedom to be the teacher they were trained (and wanted) to be, rather than the square-peg, test-teaching drones their government and administrators require, get off their back, and maybe they can make school more effective. Teachers are, after all, the experts.
    (Also, when you send your kids to school in the morning, make sure they’ve eaten, have money for lunch, got some sleep, and did their homework. It will help.)

  • Dbfugitt

    How about getting rid of some of the school administrators? Many add to the costs and are under productive.

  • James


  • Larry Geni

    Reading through these comments, I am struck by the confusion over the nature of student-directed learning.  Let’s start with the necessity that every classroom has a teacher who knows the subject deeply, and who provides the bottom line in terms of student behavior.  But when the paradigm shifts from focussing on teaching to focussing on learning (which is what the schools were built for, after all), the idea of student-directed activities becomes paramount.

    This doesn’t mean revisiting the open classrooms of the 70’s.  Nor does it mean the teacher abdicating the essential role of creating the structure, the scaffolding of learning.  What it does mean is that students, like all human beings, learn most effectively through conversation, asking questions of each other, teaching each other in groups where they trust each other and can admit doing badly on a test, say, so that they can learn from their mistakes.  

    As a long-time classroom teacher (now retired), I can say with certainly that when students have some choice in how they learn and structures in place where socializing isn’t seen as a distraction from learning, but rather an essential ingredient of learning, more learning takes place.

  • Petersos

    When I read the title of this article, I assumed it would focus on teaching practices, and it really just addresses the physical environment.  I think every teacher and parent would agree that schools should be more in tune with the rest of the world as far as promoting collaboration and security for the individuals.  However, the reality of the situation is, our public schools cannot even afford to keep the teachers and courses we already have due to the government’s system of funding. As teachers take early retirement due to our state’s recent changes, they are not being replaced.  Class sizes are on the rise, and children with special needs are now being forced into “least restrictive environments” that are not meeting their needs, but are saving money for the district by cutting back on professional staff. Could we seriously even consider the type of remodeling and reconstruction these types of changes would involve?  Asking taxpayer’s for money to put skylights in the gym, while a pleasant notion, is laughable in these economic times.  Public schools are structured in this outdated manner because we have much bigger problems on our hands.  The buildings we occupy are old, but they are the best we have. This author is an architect, and perhaps he works with school districts who have money to spend on redesigning their schools.  That is just not the reality for most of us.  That being said, I think it is always good to keep our minds open to little ways we can make our schools function more like pleasant, collaborative learning communities. Sometimes it is merely our attitudes that make the environment better.

  • guest

    I have mixed feelings about the article and the comments as a newish teacher. I have worked in schools with different setups, some which makes sense par his descriptions. A newer school I have worked at is designed with “pods” where similar grade level teachers share a pod, 6 classrooms per pod. Each classroom has one partner classroom with adjoining doors.  Every classroom also has a back door, opening towards the playground, and a main door which opens to the pod’s shared space. The shared area is large enough for 3 round tables which groups may work at, 6 computer desks, a bookshelf, and a Promethean board. I feel this design is quite modern and offers a lot of options for teaming, group work, extra computer use, etc. IF the teachers use it to their advantage.

    Just thought I would share. Although I loved this school design, I can see that it may be difficult to make it work in an area where the weather is more severe, and there is more benefit to indoor corridors.

    • Not96intheshade

      I really like the design of the school. Inspires me to want to come an learn!

  • RCC

    So, you really think students should be allowed to have their cell phones out in class. There’s a reason they make them turn them off. You obviously have no clue.

  • Kh_rj

    Very true, specially point#10

  • it is really great concept school must implement it for better growth of student. Thanks for Great informative article.

  • Brux

    This makes the most sense of any of them.  The biggest problem with schools is the wild behavior or some kids that can turn the entire culture of a school upside down with bullying and abuse.  It’s clear that the human managers of kids in school keep refusing to recognize the problem, for some reason, and allow bullying to go on while replaying platitudes about how they do what they can.  If the people in charge won’t fix things, then maybe they can with hardware design changes, as in the restrooms, like some schools did with lockers.

  • Ghohl

    Mr Stack obviously has never managed a school or dealt with the tasks related to controlling student behavior. He is totally in left field when he should be on first base. His essay is not helpful!

  • Lienemannthelibrarian

    I think the author should read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and consider that not all work in the real world is entirely collaborative.

  • Zen

    Summer vacation needs to go.  Kids don’t help with the harvest any more, keep learning year round.  That is not to say there should be no vacation, just not 2-3 months of it in one block.

  • Most of these measures are terrific student motivators and would be embraced by many students and teachers.  The downside is they only work in a learning environment where student behavior is safe and respectful.  We need legislation that allows schools to remove unmotivated and dangerous learners from the environment.  This would benefit all.

  • West2330

    To all of the “Real” teachers out there, Thank God for You! I am a teacher myself and I DO know what you are talking about. Oh, and many of you are right. You can’t keep many students in their chairs and paying attention as it is WITH walls. How will someone get these children to pay attention to any project or instruction with an open floor plan? Many children do not seem to have learned self-discipline. They are way too spontaneous in a bad way. They would rather text, talk, pass notes, throw things, draw pictures, or let someone else do the work. I would be more than happy to let these experts teach my classes for a couple of weeks with no funds, no equipment, or no parent support.

  • Lisa

    Mr Stack’s inclusion of the “teacher-centered classroom” on his list is completely appropriate, but he has missed acknowledging that teachers still have a high level of influence on student learning (see John Hattie).  Group work and project based learning needs to be done right and are not as impactful on student learning across the board.  Several of these suggestions ignore the obligation schools have to provide equitable experiences for ALL students.

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  • Pheller

    As  grandmother of a 3 and 5 year old, I witness the daily use of preschooler technology. In future years, all children will enter school with well developed technology skills. Educators need only to provide equipment and guidance for these preschool developed skills. To provide the physical structure to facilitate the immediate access to resources will be an ambitious and costly goal to be met.

  • nitin

    Exactly !! these things are the necessity . Just take a look at this link , i m sure you all will appreciate this work ..

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  • nitin

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  • I believe the idea behind this article is to create smaller communities within the school building, and to use space to support those learning communities.

  • Lucy

    That’s funny. I used to go to high school that was open-concept. It was later determined that the low school’s low GPA and high drop-out rate were in part caused by the distractions that came with the design. The demolished it and built a pretty, pristine building. And it worked, the drop-out rate has significantly improved, and GPA has increased.

    I will agree with more private restrooms though. While I doubt it will stop them from being trashed or make them any less dirty, added privacy for students and faculty would be a nice change.

  • Maria Plant

    Thousands of doctors and scientists around the world disagree with the author’s first point about Computer Labs, which are the safest way for kids to access the Internet. And schools are BIG on student safety!
    What Greg Stack – and many parents and teachers – fail to recognize is that Health Canada recently issued a health warning in May 2012 that parents should reduce RF exposure around children (RF’s = Radiowave/ microwave Frequencies). This would include reducing exposures in schools as well, since we are childrens’ guardians while they are in attendance.
    This includes RF radiation from microwave frequencies and modulations constantly emitting from all wireless devices (but not Ethernet or fibre-optic, as in the “old/ obsolete” hard-wired computer labs) such as cell phones, cordless phones, iPhones, iPads, wireless laptops, and personal communication devices. These all use microwave frequencies to operate. According to world-wide research, these frequencies produce adverse health effects to the brain, heart, DNA, and reproductive organs, especially in children.
    Many of these adverse health effects have been documented since 1940 when radiation warfare was being researched. But the Tech Industry in its infinite wisdom and power has worked hard to discredit, silence, and cover up the facts from consumers!

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  • Buildakon

    I am a high school student. Honestly I hate the whole “radical” new concepts that they are always trying. Online learning is awful and time consuming, no one uses the hall chairs, and just because there is a designated lunch spot doesn’t mean we are forced to stay in that area (at least at my school). Additionally it was mentioned that learning in prescribed areas makes material not memorable however many of my peers purposefully go to a library to study after school/weekends because its a prescribed area away from distraction. Like the body knows your rituals for sleep so does it know rituals for study time. Also, class discussions, for me at least, are a major waste of time since the “in depth discussion” is just students repeating the textbook/teacher analysis that we all already know.

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  • Wayne

    While I understand the sentiment; how do you teach Computer Science without a computer lab?

  • steve


  • Equality7-2521

    GROUP PROJECTS! The only way that some people (future Sociology or Education majors) are able to progress through the educational system is because of group projects.

    You should be graded by the work that YOU do. You should never be penalized by being grouped (then graded) with some lazy-assed slackers.

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  • Fredy

    Can schools force you to buy a jacket that are over 20 dollars in cash?

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  • Lala

    I think all of these are exciting ideas, except for one thing. I am always hearing that people work in teams outside of school, but in every office I know of, people are working at cubicles or in offices, alone. Do they have meetings? Yes. But most of the time they are working on their own, and in their own spaces. I have asked many friends who work in the “real world,” and they all say they rarely work in team environments. I realize that in some tech fields, people are working in these modern environments, but it doesn’t seem accurate to say that most of the world works this way. Would it be a better way of working? I don’t know. Maybe sometimes. Other times, not so much.

    As for ADHD, my son was “diagnosed” with ADD Inattentive type after having a bad year at school in Grade 4. There was no problem in any other grade level, and this year in Grade 5, the problem seems magically to have disappeared. His new teacher is mystified as to why anyone would have considered him for assessment, never mind assessment. This is obviously just anecdotal, but the ease with which he was diagnosed and labeled in a clearly situational context does make me wonder how reliable these labels are, and how often they are the products of adults who are intolerant of natural child-like behavior, or incapable of effectively guiding it.

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  • I love my middle schoolers. I’ve taught 7th/8th grade science for 17 years, and I have learned that under that “tough” sometimes challenging exterior there is still a little person. With respect, laughter, and yes, love, those tough exteriors melt away and the wonderful young person emerges. When a middle schooler knows you care about them, they trust and they learn. We also have a lot of fun with very few behavior problems. I feel very blessed to have been a part of their lives and they know that.عراق سوفت

  • nimc

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  • James Stork

    The ideas about students using technology are nice, but few students (even adults) use it as a tool for learning when they should be. The potential distraction are too great. I see students doing what they are supposed to be doing when the teacher is looking, but once their back is turned, another tab is opened and they are on social media or other distracting sites. I see how many adults are when they are at conferences or meetings. When the work is not done and the student is unsuccessful with their grades, the teachers are questioned as to why the students are not being successful. As long as we have to educate in accordance to a government specified curriculum and meet their objectives, we have little time to waste as there is a lot of material to cover in a specified amount of time. If we wish to make education efficient, we need to revisit and revise our educational philosophies and pedagogies.
    We came a long way in the last 120 years to where we are today with traditional educational methodologies. Are we being as efficient with education as we were in the past? The problems we face in the educational system stem well beyond our institutions into society.
    We are just a single gear in the transmission of life.

  • Nathan Dadi

    I was curious if there was any further research or anything yiu based this off of. Especially subject number 5. If so, it would be great if you could’ve forward me the source. Thanks!

  • Bill Reid

    Wow! When is the last time the author taught full time in a high school? Cell phone texting in my class room has stimulated violence psychically and verbally. The author could also do some research on cell phones and addiction. Really feeling disappointed in your lack of empathy!

  • alexis


  • alexis

    whats you name

  • disqus_gjHpk9LiJ1

    Apparently, all you have to do to be an expert in education is pass 12 years of public school. After that, just feel free to make up crazy “progressive” edcuation schemes. What this article talks about is the same stuff that got us into the pickle we are currently in.

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