Thinking outside the box

I know from teaching and listening to people we are used to the more traditional style of classroom as seen below.


However, the world is rapidly changing therefore we are forced to look at how non-traditional schools are challenging educational norms. Are these schools thinking outside the box in order to better educate and equip future generations and students.

With the new Junior Certificate reforms a hot topic in Ireland currently – I thought it would be interesting to see what do the schools and education systems thinking outside the box look like?

  1. Sweden


This may not look like a school but it’s actually one giant classroom. It’s modern architecture allows for students to spend half of their time learning in an expansive glass cube called “gymnasium”. The idea behind this creative glass cube is to encourage students to collaborate with each other.

Headmaster Allan Kjær Andersen stated that “We want to have teaching where the students make research and work together in solving real problems,” and “we want to be an open school that is in connection with the outside world.”

One interesting point which really caught my attention was there is movable walls and bookshelves to create a more intimate learning settings.”It’s not enough to give them knowledge, you also have to give them a way of transforming knowledge into action,” Andersen says. “And that’s very important for us, and I think it is important for modern schools.”

2. Egalia School


The Egalia school system is founded on total equality between students. The system is made up of two schools, Egalia and Nicolaigården, which reject gender-based pronouns. Instead the students refer to each other by their first names or as “they”. It’s approach could eradicate a lot of stereotyping surrounding genders. It will be interesting to see how this affects these students at a later stage in life. It’s defiantly a system I would say is to watch in regards to their results and statistics in a few years time.

3. P-Tech

obama-education ptech

It was launched in 2011 by IBM (International Business Machines Corporation)  to provide a way for New York Teenagers into college and avoiding the usual four-year high-school track.Instead, P-TECH students complete a six-year degree. Boosted by mentorship and internships in STEM fields, the fifth and sixth years earn students an associate’s degree from the nearby New York City College of Technology, and many go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree afterwards.

4.  Netherlands – Caribbean (School at Sea)

school at sea2school at sea

Though this is a specialised school for sailing and boating enthusiasts – it’s still a six-month program for students (14-17). The school is at sea and they depart from the Netherlands to the Caribbeans and back. The aim is that they slowly take over from their mentors while on board.

5. Carpe Diem

carpe diem school

Carpe Diem is as personalized as education goes.It may look peculiar to those of used to the traditional classroom but each of these cubicles is designed for each student. However, despite it’s appearance Carpe Diem is producing results which are worth taking note of. Notably Carpe Diem-Yuma has outperformed every public school in the country in AIMS test four years in a row. Arguably it allows each students learning ability to be fully explored and reach it’s potential.

Why are they performing so well? –  Each student has their own programme and if they have any trouble with their online learning, they can turn to instructions for help. This is very personalized and raises the question of how well are students learning in classrooms where there is thirty other students present in the classroom? How much can the teacher give themselves over to each student? (Also this ties into the current tend of who looks after the teacher? Can they burn out from the amount of work they undertake?)

6. AltSchool

altech school

AltSchool has been described as a “complete deperature from traditional education”. One interesting aspect of this different approach to schooling is there is no more than 25 students in a class and two teachers – to ensure that each child gets the attention they need. AltSchool was created by a former Goolge employee Max Bentilla. His time in Google is evident with each classroom being fully equipped with not only modern but latest technology.


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