Just go to school for social reasons?

by Bruce Kasanoff on June 4, 2010

What if the main reason to go to school disappears?

Imagine a time a few years in the future, when individualized e-learning is readily available. You can study any subject, using materials and pacing that perfectly fits not only the way you learn best, but also your goals and schedule. When you need help from a teacher or advisor, you simply video chat with them, sharing a whiteboard and other materials as necessary.

This might be the perfect way to learn – at least for some – but the social aspects are missing. By social, I not only mean the personal interactions with other humans in classrooms, but also the opportunities to play sports, be in a school play, join a club, or simply have lively face-to-face discussions.

So now imagine a school designed to support these social functions. It would need far fewer classrooms, more informal meeting areas, athletic facilities, and a theater/social hall. In short, it would be smaller than schools are today, and it could accommodate more students. Translation: it would require fewer tax dollars to support.

I’m not suggesting that we should cut every school in half today. But looking out 10 or 15 years, it’s not hard for me to imagine schools that are much closer to social gathering spots than they are warehouses for kids five days a week.

If you want a parallel, look at how libraries are transforming from warehouses for books to social gathering spots for their community.

Someday, may

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