Imagine on Monday morning the students arrive, backpacks in hand with stories of weekend adventure, anticipating a new week. But what if, instead of opening doors to the classroom, students walked into the local museum, the City Hall, an art gallery, a university hub, a recreation center or an outdoor space? They begin a week of learning in the community, alongside experts and staff of local organizations and agencies, working collaboratively with the teacher to create powerful learning experiences.
The Community as Classroom framework provides a powerful, engaging way to move students into your local community; urban or wild spaces. This initiative, now running in cities across Canada, embodies innovative learning environment principles promoted by the Organization for Economic Development; providing a concrete solution to the question, “How can I create place-based learning opportunities for my students?”
We invite teachers to envision what school might look like within and around the community. Rather than “leaving the classroom” to embark on an extended field trip, the community space beyond becomes the classroom. Learning opportunities are based in place, honouring the finding that, “children best learn the complex skills and dispositions of adulthood … through keeping real company with the experts they wish to become and … with the real things of the world” (Meier, 2003). Read more.
Programs & Pilots in British Columbia, Canada
Three exemplary programs are running at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, the Polygon Gallery school in North Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. In 2019 Aqua School, based at Ocean Wise (the Vancouver Aquarium), will begin three week-long, pilot classes.
A Few Exemplary Programs Across Canada & The USA
Rethinking Learning Environments: Community As Classroom
A Few Resources
Calgary City Hall School Report 2016-2017 (Written in partnership with Campus Calgary)
Open Minds (Calgary) Zoo School Report 2016-2017 (Written by Andrea Beaty, Zoo School Coordinator)
Interested in trying it out? Here’s a guide:
Implementing The Open Minds Education Concept In Your Community (Prepared by Campus Calgary/Open Minds for the Max Bell Foundation)
Contact David Barnum
Email: David_barnum@sfu.ca / firstname.lastname@example.org