It has recently been pointed out to me that the phrase “21st Century Classroom” is already dated. Afterall, it’s 2015! Our millennium is the same age as my students, a moody freshman.
What adjective shall we then use to describe it then? Here are some alternatives I've considered:
Accurate, but dated. Google nGram shows that “modern classroom” peaked in usage in the 1950s
Trendy, but incomplete. Our classrooms are so much more than the technology that students have access to.
Buzzy, but misleading. The term implies that there is a peak that can be reached. Classrooms must change to fit the needs of the learners.
Concise, but limited. The STEM fields provide many lessons that can be incorporated into other subjects. However, calling it STEM would tend to alienate teachers of the humanities.
True, but taken. Some missteps by early implementers of progressive education have left it with a bad name in certain communities.
Closer, but overused. I’ve been told to use best practice for years and the definition keeps changing.
Bringing us back to....
Clear and urgent. Most descriptions of 21st Century classrooms have very similar features. It's true that we are well into the 21st Century, but applying this description provides a wake up call. We know what the learning environment should look like by this time, and we can see how far we still have to go. It may not be a perfect descriptor, but it gets the message across.
I’m sure that there are other terms that I have not considered. Please let me know if you have a interesting suggestion.
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