A School With No Classrooms Or Grades? Sweet!
Though teaching techniques have come a long way, the mode of communicating them remains pretty much the same since the concept of school was invented - Students of varying calibers and interests are forced into a classroom, where they spend the day learning from a pre-determined curriculum. Now, a European country is trying to change that by building radical schools that have no classrooms, no preset subject lessons and best of all, no grades!
The philosophy behind Sweden's Free School Organization called Vitro, is that children are creative and that their learning and ideas are as important as those of the CEO of Google or any other Fortune 500 company, so why not give them a similar environment - One in which they can be successful and thrive?
To foster that, the schools are built with unique learning spaces in lieu of traditional classrooms. Not only that, even the curriculum is taught in a radical way - Using mobile phones, computers and e-readers.
Also, there is no 'right' or 'wrong' kind of education. The school believes that everything is a learning experience - whether it involves a serious science project or making a movie inside the school's recording studio or even, recapping one's day on an audio diary!
Vitro's latest campus, which opened in August of 2011, has five learning spaces - The Cave, a secluded area where students concentrate on individual projects, The Lab, where students can conduct all kinds of experiments and test practical ideas, The Camp Fire, where they can collaborate with other like-minded kids on projects and finally, The Show Off, which as the name indicates, is where they can strut their skills, inventions or whatever else they want to 'show off' to their peers. Also, in case kids need a break from all this hard core studying, they can visit The Watering Hole, which has all kinds of fun activities lined up.
And while this may sound like a rather haphazard way of learning, the schools do have a method to their madness - Every student that enrolls in any of the 30 Vitro school campuses, begins with a one-on-one session with a teacher, who helps him/her chart an education plan. From thereon, armed with a school provided laptop he/she can spend the day studying individually on one of the comfortable lounges spread through the building or work in groups with other students.
If they need help, the students can attend one of the pre-designated group sessions where educators are teaching other kids that are on a similar level. While there are no tests or grades, each child is monitored by a teacher and their progress is tracked online and shared with both the student and parents.
Sounds great? Wait till you hear the best part! These uber-cool schools are totally free! That's because they are part of the country's public school system and the only requirement to attend them is that one parent is a Swedish taxpayer. We wonder if other school systems around the world will follow Sweden's lead and adopt similar techniques - Now that, would be sweet! To read more about these schools and their unusual philosophy check out http://vittra.se.
Resources: vittra.se, odditycentral.com, homedit.com