Many experts are considering what a school should be in the 21st century in order to foster "21st century skills" in children. 21st century skills generally are described to include:
- Critical thinking
Some experts add problem solving skills to the list but I personally believe it is redundant if critical thinking is developed properly.
One company that has a long history in child learning is LEGO, the Danish company. They have a long history of innovation in toys and robots to foster participatory, hands on learning (as opposed to consumptive learning). LEGO has announced that the LEGO Foundation is opening a new school, which I believe is their first school. The Isbillund International School will serve children 3-16. LEGO describes the school as follows:
"Children are open-minded, curious and innovative. They are not afraid to experiment. These abilities will be nurtured in our school to help our pupils reach their full potential. We believe that all children have the right to become the best they can be. The school is based on Danish learning traditions, the IB [international baccalaureate] programmes and the creative approach of the LEGO Group."
School activities begin at 7am with breakfast and include after school activities til 5pm.
What I like about the school:
- The LEGO philosophy of hands on learning applies to all courses and not just science and robotics
- The International Baccalaureate is a rigorous curriculum that is used beginning in the primary school
- The school starts for 3 year olds when children are in their most formative intellectual period
If LEGO were to ask for my suggestions, I would offer three ideas:
- There should be no grades; students should be able to learn a subject or area of interest at their own pace.
- The concept of a school building should be re-thought; instead of using classrooms as the core concept, the building should be designed to foster communication and collaboration between students.
- Use teachers as mentors or guides and rely on e-learning to provide basic instruction; of course every child would have their own connected laptop computer.