Dynamisation of School Structures and the Use of Technology

Standard class teaching will be a seldom occurrence in the School for Life. Instead, relying on the knowledge gained in modern learning theory, a researching, discovering, active kind of learning is favored. Learning will take place individually or in small teams, and the biography and learning background of every child will be taken into account. In contrast to repetitive learning which takes place within parameters of false security (where problem presentation, solution-route, and the solution itself are already known beforehand), here the learning processes are much more open in nature. Naturally there will still be some ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers. But in real-life situations there are often a number of different options which have to be compared and considered before making a decision. In any case, learning in connection with entrepreneurship also means learning how to think strategically while dealing with uncertainties, and practicing to take calculated risks.

There is a veritable arsenal of teaching methods and forms of pedagogical organization that serve these goals: teaching in small groups, learning and acting in projects, open or informal education, orienting the time frame to the task at hand and the current project (and not the other way around), team-teaching, mixed-aged groups and cross-generational learning (where it makes sense to do so).

With museum-like structures – lessons in 45- or 50-minute intervals, with fixed timetables, sitting quietly in the classroom – this is hard to do. There are other possible rhythms, ones that are stretched over the entire day. Child-friendly rhythms can be combined with the school day and old patterns can be given up: the children can play in the morning as well, and systematic and situational learning can occur alternately.

In the case of the School for Life, a rhythm sometimes forms within the sequence of teaching and center-oriented project learning: lesson – project – lesson – project, for example, or a lesson unit in which theme-oriented, interdisciplinary learning takes place through team teaching, alternating with an intense phase of the project. Team teaching in block periods requires careful preparation and research, both of which children can already be involved in.

Basically, the whole day is there to be used. The rough division into morning classes and afternoon projects and mini-enterprises is no longer relevant as it is the most unimaginative way of shaping the school day. Even the old relict of same-age class groups can be replaced with theme- and project-based groupings which disregard age.

The dynamism of the weekly, monthly and annual planning structures is also closely connected to the school’s learning approach, because, for example, the time requirements of projects in Centers of Excellence are different from the usual structures of a traditional school timetable.

At the same time, the limits of traditional school spaces will be dissolved: all the students will work with laptops and personal computers, and be able to communicate directly with teachers and other students electronically. Everyone will have access to libraries all over the world. In this interactive learning development, the concept of “classroom” will surpass the traditional classroom. In developing their projects, students will also be able to make use of multimedia designs, computer assisted drafting, the information highway, and graphic and desktop publishing tools.

In this regard it is important to correctly evaluate the instrumental role played by electronic media: Such tools are an enormous help but not an end in themselves. Real experience is always more important than virtual reality.

Everyone will have access to libraries all over the world. In this interactive learning development, the concept of ‘classroom’ will surpass the traditional classroom.