“Where a school is located and how it sets up internal structures determine its possibilities”, writes Heidi Hayes Jacob in the book Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. As she argues in this book, we have inherited spaces in our buildings that were designed for learning of another era.
Tearing down and rebuilding our schools is hardly a tasteful option in an era of tight budgets and a total lack of funding. What can we do then? We can start by redesigning our classrooms from places where “knowledge is imparted” to more of place where knowledge is found, discovered in a collaborative manner. We can turn the physical environment into places where authentic learning is the classroom business, not sitting in rows, listening to lectures. This may mean simply getting rid of desks and moving in tables and chairs that are portable and can be rearranged quickly according to the needs of the students and the teachers. It means we can change our physical spaces in our schools into 21st century learning environments without breaking our budgets.