What is a 21st century classroom?
It is a place where students come alive. People need to think critically, solve problems and work collaboratively. Classrooms need to evolve so that all children have equal and equitable access to learning through active engagement. Here are the 4 Cs of a 21st Century Classroom:
Owing to the shift from a memorization-based reading-writing-arithmetic process (drill and kill) to a more collaborative active approach, you’ll see critical thinking happen in any, truly modern classroom. Designed spaces support specific learning activities. The cooperative environment happens in a small conference room, an area with soft lounge seating and booths similar to what you would see in a restaurant. Students work collaboratively and develop and share ideas with their peers. Everyone learns, and creates, differently. A 21st century classroom design considers learning styles in Zones around the classroom.
Creativity is the freedom to explore new approaches, recognize patterns, and invent new meanings. Designing a 21st century classroom means to critically, and creatively, think about spaces that promotes exploration and productive mistakes. A Studio dedicated to making, where students manipulate objects from available carts of foam balls, Legos, blocks of wood, and even toothpicks to solve complex problems. Students experiment and eventually 3-D Print prototypes. So much is possible through hands on learning (kinesthetics) – constructing, building mock ups, and testing theories, as a way to uncover completely new perspectives and insights.
Developing habits of the mind - analysis, interpretation, precision and accuracy, problem solving, and reasoning are vital skills for students. Learning critical thinking leads students to develop higher levels of concentration, deeper analytical abilities, and improved thought processing. Today’s citizens must be active critical thinkers if they are to compare evidence, evaluate competing claims, and make sensible decisions.
To foster critical thinking, creativity and collaboration … communication is key. Inquiry and sharing are elements of 21st century classroom design. Its important students learn how to present their ideas clearly and develop the social skills necessary to solve verbal conflicts. Communication skills are intertwined with information, media, communication, and technology skills, where peer to peer learning is a key element of social development.
How to implement 21st century classroom design
A truly modern classroom environment utilizes peer learning, so that the teacher isn’t just a fixture at the chalkboard. The 21st century teacher moves around a space that is flexible through design. Students critically analyze systems and apply strategies to solve real-world problems. Rather than a room of note-takers, they are Makers.
Learning zones encourage different styles of learning and parts of the creative process. Clusters of students are active in zones of collaboration, independence, play, presentation … in the classroom and throughout the entire building. As architects, we help educational institutions from early childhood, K-12, to higher education reimagine their spaces and develop innovative active learner focused environments. It’s not just 1 + 1 = 2 anymore -- we’re here to find, discover and transform.