The World Economic Forum has identified 16 ‘Schools of the Future’ that are “pioneering the future of education”. In line with their newly released White Paper on ‘Education 4.0’, a framework for quality education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, their chosen schools meet the mark for helping children develop four key skills: global citizenship, innovation and creativity, technology and interpersonal skills.

New methods of teaching and dynamic pedagogy, of course, play a large part in their report but the environments in which children are taught are also inherent to their success. At the Green School in Bali, Indonesia, for example, students “apply learning to the real world through a global citizenship and sustainability lens… taking advantage of the natural world to tap into their curiosity, empathy, and creative thinking schools.” In order to put emphasis on the natural world, learning takes place in a completely natural environment and students frequent wall-less classrooms and structures made out of bamboo, a popular sustainable material. The campus is also home to an Innovation Hub – a hand’s on maker space – and a Project Hub where students can pitch project ideas for the classroom, allowing them to be involved in the structure of their own learning.

Innova Schools in Peru feature mobile walls that enable both teachers and students to adapt spaces to their needs depending on the task at hand, and In India, Pratham’s Hybrid Learning Programme works closely with the villages they’re active in to create physical learning environments unique to the locality. By taking a village-by-village approach, they aim to design spaces for children that will be suited to the student-groups-led activities, which are facilitated by community volunteers. While the school provides the infrastructure, the village dictates the environment to suit the needs of the learners.

Whereas the environment fits the community in India, at Tallahassee Community College the opposite is true: they take the classroom to the community. Built to exact specifications in order to develop future skills in underserved neighbourhoods, their 8-metre-long mobile technology labs are equipped with everything from augmented reality systems to 3D printing in order to deliver out-of-reach resources to those who could most benefit from them.

The schools of the future represent a bold step forward in education and, in order to reach such high levels, they need the type of workspaces, classrooms, playgrounds and collaborative spaces that make sense of new ways of learning.

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