TED Talks

S1 E3 | CLIP

The Education Revolution: Modern Classroom

If schools were to be reimagined for the future, what would they look like? Modern Classroom explores learning environments where textbooks; seating rows; and classes segregated by age, ability, and even subject matter have been rethought in order to foster an education that equips students for the 21st century.

AIRED: September 13, 2016 | 0:03:32

Narrator: Over 150 years ago,

as jobs began moving from farms to factories,

these fathers of the Industrial Revolution had a vision.

To execute this vision,

they stole an educational model from the Prussian army.

As a result, they took kids from one-room schoolhouses

and placed them in neat little factories of learning,

and the results were actually pretty amazing.

For the next 100 years,

you could build an actual factory in any U.S. city,

and you'd have a young workforce already living there

that could read, write, follow basic instructions,

but as the world has radically changed

since the early days of the Industrial Revolution,

our schools have remained largely the same.

Bock: You learn how to take tests,

you learn how to write reports,

you learn how to do the things that are valued in school.

Most of those things,

you don't actually do in the real world.

Narrator: And as the skill set required by today's jobs

continues to evolve,

our nation's young people are being left behind.

If we were to reimagine schools today,

what would those new classrooms need to look like?

Would kids need to continue to sit neatly in rows

with a teacher at the front?

Or could we do something different?

Instead of a lecture, could it be a student-led discussion?

He's--Since he's been outside,

he's seen everything for, like, what they are.

So it has to--Sorry-- It has to do with knowledge.

Man: A little bit.

Because you gain knowledge from going to the outside world,

and then you come back in, and then your beliefs change.

Narrator: Instead of studying and taking tests in isolation,

could kids work in groups?

Could teachers also work in teams?

Throughout history,

different civilizations have come to be

and then just as quickly gone away.

We're going to take that very abstract concept,

and we're going to create

a physical manifestation of it.

Narrator: What if instead of focusing on rote memorization,

students focused on projects

that combined multiple disciplines

and helped foster a much deeper connection to the material.

Maya: So we started off

by learning about the Mayans,

the Romans, and the Greeks,

and their civilization

and how they rose to power.

What the projects really help is they don't just give you,

"Ok, this is what you need to learn, learn it, memorize it."

It's more, like, you really need to understand it,

and you really need to understand

why you need to know this.

Narrator: Today's workplaces require

an entirely new set of skills from even a few decades ago.

If our kids can learn those skills

in the modern classroom,

they'll be ready to take on the jobs of the 21st century.

If we're willing to take a leap,

a leap not unlike the one we took more than a century ago,

and to challenge our kids in a fundamentally new way,

what they produce might just surprise us.