What does your dream futuristic school look like?

A few nights ago, I attended the Astronomy and Space Exploration Society’s annual symposium at University of Toronto. In Dr. Marc Millis’ talk, one thing struck me when he was explaining  the connection between sci-fi and the space exploration in the last 50 years. He talked about how humans’ imagination in sci-fi often became the driving force of scientific experimentation and studies to use the rules of physics and nature to make those imaginations possible. So on one side, there is what we know, and on the other side, there is our dreams, fantasies, futuristic ideas and …. Scientists study the space between these two sides to make them closer to each other, so from what we know, we can reach to what we dream to create or accomplish. For example, scientists are, for many years, studying the possibilities of building a starship similar to the Enterprise (Star Trek) and never gave up on the idea, although it still seems to be very far from their reach. But, this is how most of the humans’ inventions and innovations have happened …

to me, this is like to imagine the impossible, and then find the way to reach them. Look how far we’re gone in our computer technology, our interior designs, our clothing fashion, our music, and our film industry ….

Then …

I asked myself, how often do we think like this in the field of education? How often do we dream (out of the box, completely imaginary and fictive) about alternative possible future schools, colleges, universities? Many of our dreams are still tightly linked to ‘what the research shows’, so we can’t separate ourselves from the rules and laws of  ‘what the research’ shows. I understand that this is more challenging than space exploration because in education, we’re directly dealing  with human beings, so we’re always extra cautious about what we’re hoping to accomplish (But we shouldn’t forget how many people also died in our space exploration dreams). But, then, isn’t it why our educational systems, more or less, are not fundamentally so different from what they’ve been in the last 200 or even more years? There are numerous improvements and innovations, I don’t deny, but the basics are the same: a classroom of a certain number of children, all almost the same age, located in a school which is run by certain number of adults each holding a certain (fixed) position (some times a student’s group may advise them) , and schools are often regulated and run by a larger body of again other adults who either work individually or inside an institution. What you can find inside the classrooms and schools and the design are still very traditional, again based on what research tells us …

So, for the matter of pure fantasy and imagination, what does your futuristic school for young children, older children, college or university students look like? See how far we can dream ….


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2 comments on “What does your dream futuristic school look like?

  1. Kimberly says:

    Amplify the things we like and remember about our schooling? Field trips to interesting places, hands-on projects where it all came together in a cool way, times when we got “a say” and felt like we had an influence on the classroom…
    Or is this too tame, Farveh? You’re inviting us to DREAM… to go all “Star Trek” on the school & classroom?!! Hmmm… I’m not assigned, then, to a school! Not assigned according to neighbourhood? to income level? to age or “ability”? What if I get some choice in who I work with? who I spend my learning time with, and what projects we do together? Instead of a business-model, schools work more like NGOs…
    I could join a learning project-team, and it could be anywhere in the city? province? country? world? We could work locally, but be connected (on-line?) to other projects with similar goals…
    Canada decides to put it’s railways back to good use, and VIA Rail is regularly filled with school children, teachers and parents traveling to visit/work/play in other communities! Our kids travel, connect, learn… feel at-home in the world! We stay connected through our iPads, cell phones, etc…. and go beyond the 4 walls of the classroom – the world becomes our classroom!

  2. Kimberly, I love your idea about working on projects with the community and seeing the whole world as our classrooms … Is this close to the ‘apprenticeship’ model? The way, for many years, we lived and learned together as a community (and in many places in the world this is still the model of educating the juniors of the community) … I see many active, engaging, meaningful learning possibilities in this model … and hard work, where your everyday learning/schooling is connected to the world outside and to the work of other people … so with this comes a strong sense of individual and group responsibility and commitment … a model which now can embrace our modern values and beliefs about the rights of children as citizens … recognizing their strong abilities in imagining and creating a better world … with their sensitive ways of seeing and doing things … with giggles and loud noises … restless bodies and fast minds …
    When I pass the public square in front of our city hall, where the life of the city is fluid in the air … city demonstrations … art performances … loud voices of farmers selling their produce … people and car traffic … ongoing construction and repair … seniors’ dance … I ask myself, how can a class imprisoned between walls of a school offer these rich experiences to children? Aren’t they supposed to learn about the world by seeing and experiencing it?
    And this is a busy city … but nature in this city is also hiding under our feet … soil and water, air and natural light, wind and clouds, ants and flies, squirrels and birds … hopefully many green grass and parks and trails to go to everyday not as an excursion … a one-time adventure
    Aren’t I supposed to talk about my ‘futuristic’ dreams?! A classroom that is held in an old out-of-order train … how about in the space shuttle which is now resting in a museum … a classroom that host left alone or disable animals for those of us who love animals … a classroom that does art-project for the City for those who love expressing their thoughts in arts … a classroom where meetings with politicians, reps of professional associations, and CEOs happen everyday where these adults have to consult with children about their works and decisions …
    A classroom that is not a classroom because it doesn’t have any tables and chairs … there’s no kids inside it … they’re all gone to an outdoor gym to participate in a ‘tree climbing’ or a ‘sand castle building’ or a ‘pebble tossing’ race …

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