Wednesday, August 1, 2012


By CynDee Zandes
This article is written by a member of our expert blogging community.

In a Mind Shift blog post from July 20, 2012, 10 Things In School That Should Be Obsolete, author Greg Stack lists the following:

  1. Computer Labs 
  2. Learning in Prescribed Places
  3. Teacher-Centered Classroom
  4. Isolated Classrooms
  5. Departmental Organizations
  6. School Corridors
  7. Traditional School Libraries
  8. Dark, Indoor Gyms
  9. Institutional Food Service
  10. Large Restrooms
He makes suggestions on how to correct each of these obsolete practices. I find number 2 of particular interest for those of us who work in afterschool. His notion that meaning learning experiences don't necessarily occur within the four walls of a classroom rings true to those of us who in "informal" learning environments like afterschool. Stack goes on to say, "Working in groups, while on a trip, while doing a project or learning while talking with friends - those are the lasting, meaningful learning experiences." This viewpoint ties into our belief in the 3 R's of Afterschool: relationships, relevance and rigor. Youth working together on projects having meaning and relevance to youth, and requiring them to demonstrate 21st Century workplace skills: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, are central to our work in afterschool. 


"It is not enough for youth to participate in a terrific is connecting the dots of learning that is essential."

To drive the importance of learning, it is essential that afterschool professionals understand the value of helping youth translate activities into learning opportunities.  It is not enough for youth to participate in a terrific project or willingly take part in a one-of-a-kind activity, it is connecting the dots of learning that is essential.  This translation occurs during intentional debriefing which helps youth to articulate the learning, thus attaching it to the schema for use later.  For example, if youth are working on a project to distribute lost and found clothing items to those who could use those items, they will learn a number of things.  They will learn how to categorize clothing items, send out announcements to parents so they can reclaim lost or misplaced items before they are given away, how to interview and select an agency to receive the clothing, and of course what needs to occur so that the clothing is suitable to pass along.  While youth involved in the project are “experiencing” the learning, intentional debriefing will help youth to make meaning from the experience in his or her own way.

What do you think is obsolete in our current classrooms?  What are your solutions?

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Nationaal Archief