via BRIGHT by Eli Horowitz under CC 4.0.
What if everything about the future of school was the opposite of school?
Now more than ever, we must be vigilant in our defense of our children’s future. Back in 2016, we spoke of “disruption” — disrupting entertainment, disrupting field hockey, disrupting smoothies, and, of course, disrupting education. That was a wonderful time. But now that everything has been disrupted (field hockey has never been edgier), what’s left? What’s next?
The answer: Welcome to the era of destruction — tearing down the outdated institutions, and then occupying their nonstructured absence. And what better place to begin this path of obliteration than our already-crumbling schools?
For generations, thinkers have attempted to reimagine the classroom, to improve the classroom, and, of course, to disrupt the classroom, and where has all that gotten us? Dumber kids every year, that’s where. Case in point: My nephew, the valedictorian of Robert Frost Intermediate, recently attempted to give his pet iguana mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Felt guilty about hogging all the air, he said.
True learning happens when we least expect it, when we aren’t even attempting it. What is the opposite of school? Recess, of course. We must use the bricks and boards of the deconstructed classroom to erect a playground in its place, a fantasia of slides and forts and swings.
If this doesn’t sound like school, my answer is: Exactly. If you think no one will learn anything, I respond: Well, what is “learning” anyway? Is it “learning” when a sick skate ramp teaches the physics of momentum, friction, and angular velocity? Is it “educational” to recreate an entire desert biome in an ordinary sandbox? Is it really “school” if art class is a brick wall swarming with graffiti and stencils? A teacher can’t give every student personalized attention at the same time — but what if the teacher is placed on a spinning carousel, with students ringing the perimeter? What if?
Even an ordinary swing set is a living lesson in momentum and fulcrums and whatever. Do I even know what a fulcrum is, exactly? No, and that’s just my point — I had to spend my recesses indoors, practicing oboe.
It’s not enough to think outside the box . We must get outside the entire building.
Impractical? Idealistic? Naive? Exactly. We must forget all knowledge so that we can learn again. Destroy the classroom and build a future.
Now more than ever, we must be vigilant in our defense of our children’s future. As any intelligent observer could have predicted, the misguided educational policies of our predecessors produced a generation of children who were ignorant, dangerous, and endangered. Hopscotch is not an effective medium for the periodic table. Dodgeball really isn’t very similar to molecular interaction. We should have known this then, but we definitely know it now.
Students who somehow escaped the educational damages of this curriculum often found themselves physically harmed anyway. Serving lunch on a moving swing? Using the wading pool as an observation tank for aquatic predators? This is no way to treat our most vulnerable treasures.
Nevertheless, we stumbled along this foolhardy path until 2034, when Walter Groon, a third-grader in Tucson, scaled a climbing pole/astronomy tower and then forgot how to get down. After a tense 73 hours, a FEMA squadron lowered him to safety, but the outcry and subsequent lawsuit resulted in a complete dismantling of the playground “school” — a death trap, more accurately.
Lesson learned: Our children are too precious to play with. We must protect and nurture both the minds and the bodies of these young citizens. Chaos is unacceptable; guesswork is outdated; safety is paramount. By amassing comprehensive information, combined with absolute control of processes, we can ensure precise, optimal outcomes. Development — whether physical or intellectual — is fundamentally a matter of input and output; for the desired results, we simply must calibrate the raw material, the incoming data, whether that data takes the form of a book or a meal.
And so I present the classroom of the future: the cafeteria.
Now more than ever, we must be vigilant in our attempt to survive through the week. Oh God, the mistakes we’ve made.
Safety? Control? Optimal outcomes? These words now mock us, but it appears the leaders of the previous decade truly believed these narcotic ideals were somehow achievable. And for a few students, maybe they were. But some children didn’t quite fit the program — unexpected genetics or slurry aversion or who knows — and so they were reassigned to specialized facilities.
These facilities turned out to be not much more than holding pens. Eventually, a group of teenagers in the Southeastern Facility staged an uprising, freed others, and began rampaging. The obese, incompetent children at the cafeteria schools, raised on a curriculum of protection and slurry, were helpless against this onslaught. A mere spitball left a bruise, and harsh language could cause major organ failure. Soon the whole school system was rubble, and our cities soon followed.
Leaving us here, roaming the countryside in search of shelter and sustenance. Youth is no longer an excuse; all children over three must do their part to defend our salvaged schoolbus against the hordes of marauders. We’ve assembled a fully sustainable convoy, with all the rich experiences of a working farm — the livestock truck, the agro-flatbed, everything we need to make it through a day. There are weapons to be built, water to be mined, crude engine fuel to be brewed. And if they learn something along the way? I call that a win-win. Our rooftop catapult is physics in action. Fermented food storage is chemistry in action. Using our turds as a gasoline replacement doesn’t work, turns out, but it’s a nice idea. A-plus for creativity.
Truly, it’s a wonderful opportunity, a blessing in disguise. The rotting corpse of a diseased cow? The circle of life. The zombie hordes? Vibrant group psychology, as well as interesting ethical quandaries. The failed nanotube space elevator is an instructive emblem of man’s hubris, plus a great place to practice knot tying. What a time to be alive.
Unfortunately, due to previous pedagogical failures, no one knows how to fix anything, much less how to hold a weapon. The mobile windmill (a great lesson in alternative energy) broke months ago, and no one can figure out the spinny thing. The only certainty is constant movement.
Oh God. We regret everything. We have learned our lesson. May our deaths be relatively painless.