MindShift recently posted “10 Things in School That Should Be Obsolete“, and managed to come up with a good, mostly different collection than those found on dozens of similar lists.
A couple were rather odd (Dark, indoor gyms? Large restrooms?), and I certainly can't argue with eliminating computer labs since I've ranted about that topic several times in this space.
However, two of the items mentioned are not only obsolete, their continued existence is also a major impediment to any meaningful high school reform.
2. LEARNING IN PRESCRIBED PLACES. When you ask people to remember a meaningful learning experience from high school, chances are the experience didn’t take place in a space designed for learning. Working in groups, while on a trip, while doing a project or learning while talking with friends – those are the lasting, meaningful learning experiences. Yet we don’t design schools to accommodate these activities and focus only on the formal spaces.
5. DEPARTMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS. In order to break down the size of schools and to allow students to learn across curriculum, it’s essential to organize schools so that teachers of various subjects are located together. This not only emulates how people work today — in collaborative groups — but encourages teachers to consider students holistically, not only as they perform in a specific subject.
Throwing out number four, isolated classrooms, as well provides a great start to creating those “21st century schools” we've been talking about since before the turn of the previous century.