Skip to main content

The 12th Century Classroom

Some of my favorite moments teaching have been when we've decided to take class outside. Get away from the desks and technology and simply have a conversation. When the weather's right, I find that I'm able to reach my students in a different way. However (as I'm sure you know) there are drawbacks, even beyond weather. If the class is too big, it's difficult to hear each other. Distractions are enormous.

I feel that there is a need for a space where I could take my class that would be like going outside, but protected and sacred. I'm all for teaching in a 21st century classroom, but I'd also like to spend some time in a classroom with 12th century technology. A Yurt. A simple structure with just meditation pillows where a class could sit together and share a conversation and a cup of tea. It could create the equivalent of having class outside--a place where being thoughtful triumphs over being fast. A place (like our school's chapel) where the silence is as important as the conversation.
The essence of of a good school experience isn't embracing new technology (although that's very important), nor is it really academic content (also very important). Good schools are based on relationships and conversations among teachers and students in which inquiry and independent thinking are esteemed. A classroom designed with 12th Century Asian technology could serve as a sacred(?) space reserved for conversation, exploring ideas, and embracing thoughtfulness. Such spaces are increasingly scarce.
A place where gadgets are turned off and minds are turned on is a place where one can practice attention and focus. No glowing rectangles allowed.
Such a place would be a place that could nurture the less quantifiable elements of our work as teachers. Take students out of the classroom and they're more likely to feel inspired and creative. Again, this would be a place that honors the community of the classroom and where deeper, even quiet, thinking (as seems more common in past centuries) is honored.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

As I mentioned in my previous post, the first thing I do in class is have my students write and deliver two minute introductions. Obviously it gives me a sense of their writing and presentation skills, but more importantly it allows me to know who they are. Here's the prompt I give them: Your first formal assignment is to compose and present a short introduction so I may better get to know you. I'm only looking for a two minute introduction. I would like you to type it out and then read it to the class. Make sure you save your work somewhere because I'm going to ask you to post it in your portfolio (more on that later). I'd like to get a sense of who you are and what your voice is. Not sure what to write? No problem ... here are some ideas to help get you started: What are you passionate about? What are some of your goals for the year? For your life? What is the most important physical object in your life? (take a photo of it and bring it to class) What is y

Anyone can make an Android App

Android App Inventor 1. Go to and bookmark 2. Start a new project     "grumpyapp" (no spaces or symbols) 3. Drag a button into your screen 4. Make the button this image. 5. Download these MP3 files.   meow  and  hiss . upload it as a new sound in App Inventor. 6. If you have an Android device, get the  A12 Companion App for Android  and c onnect your Android to the computer. 7. If you don't have an Android device, get this  chrome app  and install  this apk .  8. Go to "Blocks" and create this. MITs Android App Inventor Get the App! Connect Android Device to Computer over WIFI Get the Moto E Animal Dashboard Video You need this cat. Right click [save image as]. And you need the meow at the bottom of this page. Hello Purr Instructions Magic 8 Ball Instructions The App Inventor YouTube Channel Publ