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What We Can Learn From the One Room School House in Today’s Educational System

Modern schooling is all about efficiency, and what better way to drive efficiency in a classroom setting than group students based on their skill levels (or age) and employs a set teaching solution that can be utilized year after year, right? While this may look good on paper, the varied learning capabilities of students and the general academic results say otherwise. Now if you looked at the other corner, you will find an entirely different classroom setting, one where students of different age groups and learning capabilities are encouraged to learn under one roof. Yes, we’re talking about the classic One Room School house setting. The One Room School house seems almost as if a fable today, but their perks over the traditional classroom remain just as relevant. In fact, there are many lessons that we can pick up from the classic schooling module, let’s take a look at some of them.

Challenging the teachers and students

The problem with a traditional classroom and syllabus is that educators are confined to a specialized teaching formula which is repeated year after year. Now unless an educator makes the effort to periodically reinvent their teaching methods and material, alongside stay updated with the latest advancements, they fall into the same teaching pattern that is neither exciting nor challenging. In a One Room School, educators are constantly challenging themselves to come up with new teaching methodologies that can be comprehended by students with varied learning styles and skills. The educators are expected to keep students of beginner and expert level engaged whether it is through activities or other collaborative settings in the classroom. This makes the teaching role far more satisfying than in a traditional setting.

Often, students are enthusiastic about the idea of learning, but a dull, time-tested learning curriculum that does not match with their learning style may douse their enthusiasm. When the teaching style is more in line with their aptitude and different from the usual one-fits-all solution, the students are in a better place to grasp it, which no doubt bears better results as well.

In short, the One Room School approach is interesting and fruitful for both the educator and the student.

Encouraging individual learning

A One Room School House has individualized lesson plans for each student. This can go a long way in nurturing independent learning capabilities. In a traditional classroom, boundaries and benchmarks get in the way of the students’ learning curve. Benchmarks on what students are expected to achieve may deter slow-learners from reaching their full potential, as there is a constant pressure from these expectations which takes the focus off the primary goal of education- to learn. Students who are able to adapt to a traditional curriculum do not look beyond what is being taught and constrict their learning view. In One Room School Houses, students are always pushing boundaries on what else can be learned. They are not judged based on how they fare with respect to their peers and equals, and instead know that there is always scope for growth and to learn more. This hits the nail on what education should be achieving in the first place.

A holistic learning approach

The thought of a heterogeneous-level classroom may seem slightly ill-planned and chaotic at first glance, but given the right approach, it can make learning a holistic experience for students. For instance, say you have students of different learning capabilities in a music class. Managing students with different learning skills and styles may seem somewhat of a difficult task, but once you have individualized lesson plans in place it gets simpler. The key is to also have a collaborative approach while teaching. So how do you bring a collaborative approach in such a diverse setting? You could try bringing in the high-level students to improvise and play on the spot, while the mid-level students watch them and try to pick up the chords that are being played.

You can then have the mid-level students try and play the same under the guidance of the high-level students. This also helps reinforce the basics in the high-level students, while they teach the mid-level ones. The beginner-level students can try getting the basic chords right, as the mid-level students tell them about the same. This is exactly how students with different learning skills collaborate under a One Room School House setting, making the learning experience far more interesting than otherwise.