Arne Duncan, Here Is Great Classroom Design From Metropolis.

The new Secretary of Education, Chicago’s Arne Duncan, has a few billion bucks from the Stimulus Bill to build and renovate classrooms. These few billions in a bill of nearly $800 billion may be the most important spent by the Obama administration. Why? We need to redesign the learning experience to reconnect childrens’ culture to learning culture. And Metropolis magazine has a great feature out called “Can Design Help Kids Learn?

Back in the day—19th and much of the 20th century, there wasn’t much of a disconnect between the two. Manufacturing dominated the economy and the culture. Command and control, assembly line production, quality testing at the end of the process—sound like car manufacturing or K-12 education? Kind of hard to distinguish the two.

Now all of that has changed. In fact, the younger you are, the more the change. Kids live in a world of digitalization, collaboration, participation and inquiry. The most important skill is search, not memormization. This is not the culture of schools, which remain mired in manufacturing culture and increasingly alienate even the best of students.

The Metropolis examples of new schools and new schoolrooms are full of learning by doing, green buildings and rediscovered urbanism. There is perhaps too much emphasis on sustainability and not enough on curriculum, but the page on is terrific. Sandy Speicher made up the list and she runs IDEO’s Design for Learning practice (OK, which other innovation consultancies have a special education practice? Why not—that’s where the big bucks are today).

My favorite tips for creating a 21st century classroom experience?

#5—No Sage on Stage. Step away from the front of the room and engage your audience as a guide. The role of the teacher is transformed from the expert telling people the answer to an enabler of learning.

#10—Change the discourse. If you want to drive new behavior, you have to measure new things. Skills such as creativity and collaboration can’t be measured on a bubble chart. We need to create new assessments for 21st century skills.

What are you favorite tips? What else should we add to the list? We are all design educators now. Excuse, I’m off to curate my lecture series at Parsons School of Design called Design at the Edge.

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