Kevin Henry, IDSA
Columbia College Chicago
1. Introduction (The fourth teacher):
Writing about the future of the classroom for Forbes Magazine in 2010, d-school director George Kembel wrote: “In 2020 we will see an end to the classroom as we know it. The lone professor will be replaced by a team of coaches from vastly different fields. Tidy lectures will be supplanted by messy real-world challenges. Instead of parking themselves in a lecture hall for hours, students will work in collaborative spaces, where future doctors, lawyers, business leaders, engineers, journalists and artists learn to integrate their different approaches to problem solving and innovate together”. We are now half way to 2020 and this scenario, at least for institutions like Stanford, seems feasible if not right on schedule. The classroom experience necessary to provide students with this mixture of open-ended experimentation, interaction with different domain specialists, and unconstrained movement around the campus, city, or world requires a very different physical and temporal space. Education theorist Sir Ken Robinson describes it this way: “So I think we have to change metaphors. We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.” Classrooms are becoming less defined by the physicality of their space and more defined by the temporal activities that take place inside them. The physicality of the book is changing in similar ways.
Kembel’s prediction in many ways maps on to the Reggio Emilia methods developed by Loris Malaguzzi in Italy in the 1940’s. Malaguzzi theorized that children learn from three teachers including adults, other children, and the environment itself- the ‘third teacher.’ The physical space of the school as well as that of the home, the natural environment, and, of course, the built environment (village, town, or city) all aid in the development of any child. Today this can be expanded to include a fourth teacher- technology- more specifically, technology in the form of online and interactive materials. If the...read more.