The Graded School in 2020

It has been a blast participating in the process to help design the Graded of the future. Our school is embarking on a major rebuilding project that is expected to take 8 years to complete. During our conversations we are continually asking ourselves, “What will education look like in 2020?”. We have to keep this in focus as we help design a multi-million dollar facility. Here are just a few ideas that come to mind.

  • Based on the the current model we project that the school will be able to house 1600 students. If Clayton Christensen and Mike Horn are right in Disrupting Class, then many of our students will be studying online and they may not even need to be on campus. That means that a “Graded student” may not even live in Sao Paulo. If this is the case enrollment may be much larger.
  • We are designing an integrated science program in the high school and we are using this to imagine the science labs. By 2020 we’ll have already completed another science curriculum review and our courses may look totally different. What features will be needed in these new labs?
  • We are committed to creating collaborative space that we’re calling “collaboratories”. ¬†These are flexible spaces that teachers can use as needed. While we are sure that these will be used in the future, I wonder if this is really true. Will we need to develop strategies for learning that take advantage of the space? A test to the idea that, ¬†“If we build it, they will come.”
  • We have decided to not increase the size of the MS/HS library even though the number of students will grow. This is based on the thinking that the bookshelves will take up much less space and that users will continue to use the resources from off site. Will we even need a space labeled “Library” when access to digital resources will be available from anywhere?
  • Our athletic and physical education facilities look much the same as they do now. Well, of course they’ll be upgraded significantly. In the back of our minds we keep wondering if we should be considering adding facilities for wellness, health and life fitness. Maybe we should be considering a mountain biking track, a huge rock climbing wall, and a swimming pool.

Considering that we’re planning facilities where there are still many questions regarding education in 2020 we keep coming back to the idea that we need to plan flexible spaces. Spaces that can be modified and converted to meet the needs of students and teachers. Fascinating when you think that the buildings will be completed in 2020 and they’ll have a lifespan of 50+ years.

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