In his 2013 article, entitled How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a New Generation of Geniuses, Joshua Davis reveals that teacher Sergio Juárez Correa from José Urbina López Primary School in Mexico pioneered a change in educational methodology with tremendous results. Juarez Correa’s approach is representative of 21st century education.
Davis (2013) mentions that Juárez Correa abandoned the traditional classroom setup and, instead, created a physical layout that mimics learning commons space. Progressive educational institutions are accomplishing this by integrating their libraries, computer labs, and associated instructors to produce a “…a vibrant, whole-school approach that promotes collaboration, creates new relationships, introduces new technologies, and new ways to learn.” (Ontario School Library Association, 2010). One portion of Davis’ article was significant in indirectly elucidating that learning commons are a vital component to educational success. Davis (2013) quoted Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond as saying, “In 1970 the top three skills required by the Fortune 500 were the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 1999 the top three skills in demand were teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills.” These skills are all developed within a learning commons.
One may consider the technological inadequacy of Urbina Lopez Primary School to be an absolute restriction of its ability to serve as a learning commons space. Fortunately, Juárez Correa understood the new pedagogy was more important than the tools used in the transition. While technology is an effective adjunct implemented in many learning commons, the essential transformation to 21st century education is a resulting culture of student-directed learning reliant upon collaboration and team dynamics. In addition to physical alteration of the class to promote collaboration, Juárez Correa achieved this by disregarding the prescribed outmoded and linear dialogue. Instead, he asked his students a question that perhaps defines 21st century education, “What do you want to learn?” (Davis, 2013).
The contemporary methodology effectively used by Sergio Juárez Correa promoted student engagement by appealing simultaneously to an array of learning styles, interests, and abilities. This 21st century student-directed learning, especially when combined with peer-collaboration in learning commons, encourages exploration to depths that never may have been achieved using generic content. Gino Bondi, principal of John Oliver Secondary School, supports this in a YouTube video on learning commons in BC by saying, “No child is alike. Everyone learns differently and at different rates.” (BCLibraries, 2011). I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision for Juárez Correa, but the result proved that Will Rogers quote, “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.” (BrainyQuotes, 2014) is sagacious.
BrainyQuote. 2014. Limb quotes. Retrieved from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/limb.html
Davis, J. (2013, Oct 10). How a radical new teaching method could unleash a generation of geniuses. Wired.com, Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/business/2013/10/free-thinkers/
[BCLibraries]. (2011, Oct 18). Leaning commons in BC. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LglFl1BYfFs&feature=youtu.be
Ontario School Library Association. (2010) School libraries and the emergence of the learning commons. Retrieved from http://www.accessola2.com/data/6/rec_docs/677_OLATogetherforLearning.pdf