[#ukedchat] Starting with a blank piece of paper: Design the school of your dreams.


Next Thursday, I will be hosting #ukedchat for the third time.

During my previous session, I asked:

Are schools (as physical spaces) necessary to facilitate learning in the 21st century?

The resulting discussion was a thoroughly engaging one, which raised more questions than provided answers. It was apparent that most of the educators who got involved, felt that schools as physical spaces still have purpose. However, it was also clear that schools in their current state are not 100% fit for purpose. Be it the learning space itself, the infrastructure or the curriculum, a number of areas for improvement were recognised.

In this next session, I want to pick up where the previous discussion left off and explore what a school should be like in the 21st century. In order to do that, I thought it would be useful to provide a premise:

Starting with a blank piece of paper: Design the school of your dreams.

In considering this, I wish for us to focus on the following areas:


What should be learned? How should it be learned? How should learning be structured? Subjects? Skills?


Should learning be assessed? If so, how? Is there a place for grades? How can we accredit informal learning? AfL? Badges?


Who is to be involved? How will they be involved? Teachers? Students? Parents?


Where will the learning happen? Classrooms? What role for libraries? What about virtual spaces?


How long should the school day be? Should it be the same for everyone? How would lessons/timetable be structured?


What technologies should be utilised? Wifi? Tablets? BYOD?

To provide some further provocation, the following series of videos feature students from the Santa Barbara Middle School interviewing Sir Ken Robinson about his dream school; his answers are, as usual, well considered and challenging:

And so, if that has suitably whetted your appetite, I hope that you will be able to join me on Thursday at 8pm.

[Update: Saturday,  21 April] This was the 94th instalment of #ukedchat. You can read a summary of the discussion here and read/download a PDF archive of all the tweets here.

Published by

James Michie

Husband, Educator, Writer, Runner...

3 thoughts on “[#ukedchat] Starting with a blank piece of paper: Design the school of your dreams.”

  1. Hi John, thanks for sharing this.

    There is much to be said for working with what you have; and I certainly believe that bricks and mortar do not make a school. And certainly there is never going to be a space that meets every single learners needs. However, I do believe that there are a multitude of factors: physical space, virtual space, technology, pedagogy, curriculum etc, that can be designed, thought through, debated, co-created; to help foster and facilitate learning.It is often the case in my view that the ‘how’ of learning is considered irrespective of the ‘where’ and the ‘who’. Context is important in learning. I have witnessed well planned lessons crumble due to context being given limited consideration. Space, timing, teacher/student ratio, groupings, form of assessment can all have significant impact on the how of learning. It is this that I wish to explore in the discussion. The question is a lofty one, blue sky if you will. But the outcomes I expect will tell a more realistic, achievable story. They’ll provide ideas and approaches that can be adapted and utilised. I hope you’ll consider joining in.

  2. First an apology for the full poem! (I thought I had selected an extract but the lot dropped in and pagination is odd).  I agree that space,context, facilities, environment are crucial and add (or detract) so much to the learning and teaching experience.  It’s just that after BSF and school visiting I worry that sometimes, some see the building, the hardware and the physical “stuff” as the school. I suppose I am saying I like starting with WHY? and get on to the HOW? and then the WHAT?  The chat, of course, is about “the school of your dreams” and that seems to presume a building, or place…or am I in  blinkers?  I will try and join it – I have l hard great things about the chats!

    1. Hi John, I just picked this up; post chat. 

      1. There’s no apology required, I enjoyed reading it.

      2. Yes, I can see how the question can imply the notion of designing a physical space but the discussion was more about what is to be learned, why, how and by whom. This was augmented by some consideration of space and timetable… it was a frantic chat, if you managed to catch it, that is great, if not a summary will be published shortly.

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