High school classrooms were NEVER for learning … but they could be. | Richard Wells | 12 Min Read

June 7, 2023

Important first question: where did the high school classroom come from?

It’s important to remember that the high school classroom essentially didn’t exist until the 20th century. It is in fact a ‘new’ idea / experiment. For example, In 1910, only 18% of U.S. 15- to 18-year-olds were enrolled in a high school and just 9% of all American 18-year-olds graduated. In New Zealand, where I live, we only made high school compulsory for 15 year-olds in 1944! My dad was born in the 40s and so high school in NZ is only as old as my parents!

High school’s ‘Sliding doors’ moment

The film Sliding Doors presents the butterfly effect in regards to the significant impact small moments can have on the future. Whether one makes it through the doors or not, whether one turns right or left can have huge ramifications. The first two decades of 20th century education thinking resulted in one of these moments. In this case, the ‘junction’ presented two paths. Turning right towards Administrative progressivism (Edward Thorndike…

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Richard Wells

Richard Wells is a world-recognized educator, author and blogger on future education trends. He has presented around the world and has been rated in the top 50 world influencers for educational technology use. He currently works in school leadership and is passionate about moving schools forward to better represent the needs of the 21st century. Richard is an EdTech influencer who founded EduWells, a top 10 education blog. He is the author of A Learner's Paradise, a book in which he explains how education can operate without classrooms, lessons, subjects, and tests. Richard proudly started his career with a degree in Fine Art from Manchester in England. He worked in IT before contracting to work in schools, digitalizing their workflows in the late 1990s. He became an educator in 2003.