Is the Future of Education... Kindergarten for Life?

Last Updated May 7, 2010 10:55 AM EDT

Kindergarten: A model for 21st century educationEveryone agrees that the workplace has changed and that the jobs of the future will demand designers, creators and collaborators not production line automatons. But has our education system adapted to this new reality? Designer Trung Le takes a look at the nation's schools and reports in Fast Company that we have a ways to go.

What model does he propose for the classroom of the future? Kindergarten. While visiting his children's kindergarten classroom Le reports, he made a startling realization:

The kindergarten classroom is the design studio. All of the learning activities that take place inside the kindergarten classroom are freakishly similar to the everyday environment of my design studio in the "real world." In an architectural design studio, we work as an interdisciplinary global team to solve the complex problems of the built environment in a variety of different cultural contexts. We do this most effectively through storytelling--sharing personal experiences--with the support of digital media and tools. A variety of activities--reflective and collaborative, right-brain and left-brain--happen simultaneously in an open environment. Like the design studio, the kindergarten environment places human interaction above all else.
Forget the teacher at the front, students in orderly rows model that we find in many schools. The open, collaborative classroom that is typically reserved for five-year-olds should be rolled out for all of us, says Le.
The challenges and opportunities that we face in the 21st century require creativity, innovation and a deeper understanding of the complexities of the global economy, politics and culture. The kindergarten classroom fosters an environment where these values can be introduced and then thrive. Let's make the kindergarten studio the new paradigm for learning environment--a natural extension of our innate human capacity to create and learn by doing.
Think Le is a crazy dreamer? The usually practical minds of MIT agree with him, as this video demonstrates. Do you?


(Image of happy kindergarteners by woodleywonderworks, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.