Semantics, Chalkboard and Cell Phone

The Semantics of Learning

“We are prisoners of the pictures and experiences of education that we had.” -Tony Wagner

The American education system struggles with shifting educational paradigms, and this could largely be due to something as simple as semantics. When we say words such as classroom or cafeteria or teacher, our minds tend to go to a construct that we can relate to, or one that we are familiar with (no matter if that construct is something we should be emulating or not). In educational facility planning sessions, it’s important to get people to think outside the box when we are planning a new building. Instead of using the word classroom, what would happen if we said primary learning space?  It’s amazing to watch how educators respond to the idea of not owning their own classroom, but in sharing resources with other fellow colleagues. Just by making this subtle shift, the learning environment can become a space that is flexible and collaborative. Instead of saying teacher, what happens when we say facilitator? Simple shifts in semantics can help educators, administrators, and even architects, think differently when it comes to designing a next generation learning environment.

Rachel DeWitt

Rachel DeWitt is the Global Brand Strategist for IBI Group and a lifelong learner. Former educator, Rachel holds an M.Ed. in educational psychology. She spent most of her graduate studies focusing on learning sciences, specifically on creativity, cognition, instruction, and development. Rachel currently resides in Denver, Colorado. Tweet her: @RachelNFloyd

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