Publish at September 27 2022 Updated September 27 2022

What is the ideal school for the 21st century?

Listening, observing, analyzing, projecting the school of the future


In 2020 young French students were asked about their ideal school (source: Mômes ). I've taken a few significant excerpts from their responses to lay the foundation for tomorrow's ideal school for these children and enhanced the reflection with excerpts from articles that complement their requests.

Yesterday, school was within four uniform walls. Today, it is diversifying into architecture, nature, digital and sports.

School setting

Quality of space

  • "My ideal middle school would have outdoor classes"
  • For me, the ideal school would have classes done outside in nature: parks, fields, etc.
  • I would like our school to be bigger and original.
  • The ideal school would be a bigger school, with more space,
  • There would be a big park with a lake, swans and ducks.
  • My ideal school would be big, with green space, a cafeteria.
  • My ideal school would be on top of a mountain, away from noise and pollution.

"Trading the classroom for a corner of the forest, park or garden, for half a day or for the whole week: more than a trend, it's a profound change in practices affecting French-speaking classrooms...

Another way of learning

"Before we start, we'll go for a walk around the garden to see what's bloomed," suggests Ludmilla Delgado, one of the two teachers at the Bellerine structure. Then you will play the little detectives: it's up to you to collect the leaves that are missing to finish making our big herbarium."

Separated into two groups according to their grade, the children then scampered unhurriedly into the nursery that houses the school.

Aside the trailer that doubles as a library, workshop or easel for art activities - one of the nursery's greenhouses, meanwhile, acts as a makeshift shelter when the weather is too rainy - the older kids gather under a tree from which Chloe Schaller hangs a garland of images devoted to emotions.

"You can teach everything outside," assures the woman who already participated in the creation of an outdoor school in Uvrier (VS) as soon as she finished her teacher training, before getting involved in the Vaud project. Our program is dictated by the French-speaking curriculum, which we follow faithfully. However, we achieve the objectives it sets by means other than those of the traditional school: when we are outside, knowledge is all around us. The leaves that change color are a pretext to talk about the seasons, we learn to write by making a list of the insects in the garden... We also accept to be pushed around by the unexpected, to change the day's plans at the last moment."

Growing interest

Better attention span, acquisition of intellectual skills, but also social or practical skills, the arguments of outdoor education are attested by scientific studies (see below). In this context, if private outdoor schools remain an exception, especially because they involve a large budget, the public school system is also being questioned.

"On a voluntary basis, hundreds of teachers in French-speaking Switzerland open the doors of their classrooms, often for half a day a week, to spend time outdoors. "The demand for training dedicated to this type of teaching has exploded in the last three years," says Ismaël Zosso, head of the "Outdoor education" Competence Center created in 2020 by the Haute École pédagogique de Lausanne. From about twenty candidates for continuing education modules ten years ago, we have gone to more than 300 per year in the canton of Vaud alone."

Source: Public or private, the outdoor school is seducing - Terre et Nature - 9 September 2021

Architectural quality

  • My dream middle school would be quite large and modern.
  • My ideal school is a super large school,
  • My ideal middle school would be human-sized. It wouldn't be overcrowded with students like mine is now! The rooms would be spacious, modern, and clean, in short, the complete opposite of what I experience in class today.
  • There would be a large library with big fluffy cushions to read on.
  • My ideal school would be more like college. The students would be in lecture halls.

How might the spatial environment of schools be a factor in student well-being?

"What our research also showed is that students' perceptions of their school building are strongly correlated with the emotions aroused by that place.

A meaningful evaluation of the environment activates a contextually appropriate emotional response. Therefore, it appears paramount to think the spatial environment so that it generates well-being in students.

A fortiori with regard to the classification of different types of schools developed by Rigolon (2010). For, from this typology, we see that French colleges are overwhelmingly built on the "courtyard type" model; that is, with large outdoor spaces and many places of circulation. This is the classic pattern of establishments with corridors leading to classrooms on both sides and a vast "asphalted" playground outside the buildings. While this organization is meant to be reassuring and easy to monitor, it is still a 20th century educational model.

We therefore believe that we need to adapt our architectural model to the educational challenges of the 21st century. Taken in a systemic approach, the school building must be at the service of a pedagogical setting conducive to learning and well-being of students as has already been done in Finland, which moreover, true reference to the PISA revelators. It is therefore a matter of creating spaces that encourage interaction, the development of self-esteem, empathy, creativity and the promotion of cooperation between students. And to reassure some, this context does not harm learning and academic/educational success, far from it. This constitutes real issues for our future students: well-being for a good future..."

Source: School architecture, a tool for well-being? Café pédagogique - January 24, 2019

The digitization of spaces

  • The ideal school would be to be able to have your laptop.
  • More computers.
  • I would like it to have more classrooms with computers. I would like every student to have a computer.

"A new model of knowledge transmission

Classical education and its institution, the traditional school, are undergoing a profound transformation. Like all large-scale changes, digital in schools is still sometimes decried.

Yet digital serves the interests of these same students and allows for large-scale dissemination of knowledge as well as new opportunities for knowledge and skill acquisition.

Also, we are witnessing the emergence of innovative ways of working based on a collaborative model, encouraging more group interaction and learning from each other in a fluid and novel way.

It is also important to note that digital, its tools and new uses are not opposed to the face-to-face. On the contrary, it helps to complement, energize and enhance it."

Source: DIGILOR - September 18, 2019 - https://www.digilor.en/le-digital-revolution-teaching-schools/

Towards a sport-study typology

  • Half of the school would be a sports club to keep your muscles strong.
  • With soccer fields and basketball courts or tennis courts.
  • There would be a pool and a game room.
  • There would be a pool and a skateboard park.
  • A game room, pool, park and soccer field.
  • Clean and comfortable premises, spacious and hygienic toilets, a real gymnasium,

"The Sport-études Unihockey structure is part of the SPORTS, ARTS, STUDIES" (S.A.E) structures of the Canton of Vaud. Set up since 2001, they are intended for students from 9th to 11th grade Harmos.

The objectives of the Vaud sport-study system are:

  • To recognize and support the efforts made by certain students and apprentices whose sports activity is at a high level, while allowing them to follow their compulsory or post-compulsory education.
  • To mitigate, as far as possible, structural obstacles and to create, within the school or vocational training institution, a climate conducive to the development of particular talents, without creating a parallel school and without reducing the training requirements.

Since 2020, Vaud Unihockey has offered such a structure that allows young talents from Vaud to combine their passion for unihockey with a successful school career."

Source: Structures Sport, Arts, Studies (S.A.E)


All agree that the number of hours in class dedicated to fundamental courses should be decreased to be supplemented by other courses.

Decrease the hours of core subjects

  • I would like us to have fewer hours of class, each day,
  • "There would be one school day, short, for example 10am-2pm"
  • Go to class just when you want.
  • And classes would be held only in the morning.
  • Classes would start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. with an hour to eat.
  • School would start at 12:00 and end at 3:00.
  • The ideal school would be one where there are only morning classes, possibly also early afternoon.

"One by one, Blandine Choquet's students head to their classrooms. A procession of toddlers from 7 to 9 years old, backpack and box of snacks in hand. A long morning, interspersed with two breaks, awaits these 4 and 5P students. They are ready. "I prefer to work hard and finish earlier," says one of the students whose parents obtained a waiver so that he could stay at the Eaux-Vives school after a move. "In the afternoon at the extracurricular, we do pottery and craft workshops or ping-pong, yoga and gym," adds one of his classmates, smiling.

It's an exception that has lasted for more than thirty years. In Geneva, the Eaux-Vives elementary school practices a continuous teaching schedule from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Monday to Friday including for the toddlers. In the afternoons, students have the opportunity to enroll in activities offered by the Groupement intercommunal pour l'animation parascolaire (GIAP) until 6 pm. Outings outside are also planned from time to time: swimming pool, skating rink, game library or the famous House of Creativity, a structure managed by the City and dedicated to artistic expression."

Source: A l'école des Eaux-Vives, une exception horaire qui dure - Heidi News - December 23, 2021

A la carte classes

  • This is a way of doing things that is found in flipped classes. Learning is at home online on one's own schedule and students only come to class to apply what they have learned online.
  • There should also be no more obligations, like schedules for example. I would like to go to class like we take the subway.
  • And they would come when they want.

Subjects taught

The way a subject is taught wants to change the course of a student's life. To interest the student, to excite them, to make them want to explore, to discover, to love a subject is the best passport to success.

Student interests

  • I like college because it's interesting.
  • I like French best because it's interesting.
  • I like middle school because it's interesting. I like history best, it's a really exciting subject with historical figures that are sometimes romantic.
  • So my ideal college would be a school, where history would be 100% of the classes!
  • For me, the ideal school would be one where you could learn just what you want to learn.
  • We would eliminate unnecessary subjects.

"How can school make you want to learn?

Doesn't school often do the opposite, killing children's curiosity? The question of well-being and fulfillment is central to learning, yet our school system has long opposed play (circumscribed to early childhood) and school work.

But science now shows that children learn by playing and do not spontaneously oppose work and pleasure. How do you keep them wanting to learn throughout their schooling?...

...the specialist laments "three ways in which school can kill curiosity." He explains how this "seemingly insatiable appetite" sometimes ends up fading after a few years of school. There are the children who lack stimulation because, as they enter learning, they become more and more proficient in their environment in a school that is not always able to continue to whet their curiosity.

At the other end of the spectrum, children in difficulty also lose the enthusiasm of the early days: "They no longer have a reason to be curious, because they have learned...that they [would] not succeed in learning." Finally, according to the researcher, "the child's appetite for discovery can be nipped in the bud by a school organization that is too rigid," by a teacher who is too directive, who does not leave enough room for exploration..."

Source: Cultivating a taste for learning at school, that can be learned - Le Monde - October 4, 2018

"At Q2L, then, it's all about the game. Students (ages 10-16) learn by playing (or play by learning), design video games in class, test their ideas and limits.

The goal: to assimilate subjects and skills in a fun, creative and challenging way. But most importantly, to garner experiences and develop systems thinking that can benefit them later."

Source: In New York, the school that makes students learn everything through play - Heidi NEWS - January 13, 2022

Student weaknesses

  • I don't like math because it's hard.
  • I'm weak in math and science.
  • I have trouble with games and chemistry.

A weakness is often related to a deficiency that is sanctioned and emphasized by the ratings. Is this really necessary?

"What about the motivating and challenging effect of grades? "This idea is spread mostly by former good students," replies Pierre Merle.

The more than 100,000 students who left the education system without a diploma were not at all motivated by the continuous string of bad grades collected during their brief schooling."

In this regard, the National Institute for Pedagogical Research (INRP) undertook research on the representation that teachers, students and parents have of the grade. One of the conclusions is worth reflecting on the psychological effects of grades: while grades should be a positive element of learning, when they are poor, they generate discouragement, cracks in self-esteem, anxiety, deterioration in family relations and disinterest in the subject.

"Students are in the process of building up," explains trainer Maryse Hesse. A negative assessment generates a lack of self-esteem, a wound in the fragile student, a devaluation that destabilizes him and gives him a negative image of himself and his abilities." Stigmatized, the latter is gradually locked into a spiral of failure."

Source: At school, let's do away with grades - Le TEMPS - December 2017

Personal development

  • We'd do sports, artistic activities during the afternoons.
  • There would be physical and artistic activities to choose from,
  • For me, the ideal school would be one that had fine arts and ecology as subjects.

"Benefits of Personal Development

Teach them about the place of dreams in self-actualization.
These are dreams of reality, not the dreams one has while sleeping.

Teaching a child to dream can completely change the way they look at things and increase their level of involvement in activities. No great character has in fact been able to evolve without having taken through the dream stage. Children should be taught the history of people such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, Walt Disney, David Thoraud.

Teach them the thirst to understand

Understanding is a necessary skill to go far in life. And we don't understand much of the world around us without asking questions. So it would be beneficial for young people to develop a taste for seeking to understand the why of things in life. That means teaching them to seek, to understand how things work, how they are processed, and what the motive is."

Source: Personal Development: A Tool for Academic Success - IFEMI


Grading and homework are among the black spots that need to be revised to fit in with tomorrow's school.


  • And, on our papers, there would be no more grades!"
  • We would have no tests or very few.
  • There would just be an exam at the end of the year.

"In terms of behavior, the teacher drastically moved away from the reward-punishment paradigm to focus on working on emotions, social skills and nonviolent communication. "

"There hasn't been any conflict in the classroom for months," he rejoices.

As for homework, the law says it must be given, that it must be on concepts seen in class, and that it is intended to make students autonomous. But nothing about the quantity. So Matthias Kunz decided to stick to one double-sided page per week and an always identical outline of three exercises.

What about the disciplines? They're there, too, but often move away from textbooks to emphasize manipulatives. "There's nothing that says you have to do two periods of math on Tuesday at 10 a.m.. You can very well devote a whole day to a science experiment."

Source: These Teachers Who Dream of a Different School - Heidi NEWS - December 9, 2021


  • Finally, no more table-top homework, no more graded homework...
  • I'm tired of going to bed at midnight to do my homework. So it would be nice if there wasn't too much homework.
  • And there would never be any homework!
  • Of course, there would be no homework.
  • No homework at night,

Fair and co-creative

  • different teaching methods
  • classrooms broken down by grade level to better accommodate students,
  • a system where students are more involved in the life of their school,

Our world is slowly sliding towards equity replacing equality and towards co-creative circles taking their place in front of hierarchical systems. These are 2 mutations of our societies that the school must accompany.

"The students are gathered around a table in the center of the classroom. The teacher has placed small bags filled with coins and glass jars on it.

For the next 20 minutes, the children, who are about 10 years old, will argue, debate and fight over how to divide the 17 pennies fairly among the five containers.

"It's noisy, busy, laughing," says Yeap Ban Har. It doesn't feel like a typical lesson at all."

Source: The City Where Everyone's Strong in Math - Heidi News: September 1, 2021

The Teachers

There are teachers and teachers. The ideal, beautiful, smart, nice teachers... the ones that all students would want and the ones that create a positive environment for teaching that everyone remembers and there are the others.


  • And my ideal teacher would be young and handsome!
  • My ideal teacher would have a sense of humor.
  • My ideal teacher would be sexy, funny and athletic.
  • My ideal teacher would be smart, funny.
  • All the teachers would be nice

My ideal school would be with really nice teachers, The teachers would be kinder, sympathetic.

"Her story has the tender and true contours of a Sempé drawing. Between the ages of 4 and 6, Brigitte's teacher was named Claudine Amacker. She taught in Geneva, at the Saint-Antoine elementary school in the Old Town. "Claudine was grace. We loved her so much that, even on days off, we wanted to go to school. With her long braids held in place by butterfly clips, she was wonderful. She had an absolute love for her students." The little girl dreamed of having her hair done like her.

"I had the feeling of being unique in her eyes. With Claudine, nothing could happen to me. In the classroom, it smelled of modeling clay and, in the air, floated the smell of stencils."

Source: Brigitte Rosset: "Avec l'amour, on abolit les différences" - L'Illustré - 26 août 2022


  • And explain things well.
  • Teachers who understand young people.
  • And it would be interesting
  • But make them learn a lot of interesting things
  • He should speak clearly and not too fast.
  • Speak clearly
  • It should allow us to eat in class,
  • Would all be interesting.

"Suddenly, Maude Mathys and her teacher from twenty-three years ago forget about the photo they are taking for "The Illustrated." In this empty classroom of the Bahyse College in Blonay, which has not changed one bit, they are again student and teacher. "Do you remember that we studied earthworms, Maude? I wanted to explain biomass to you. To show that, on 1 hectare of land, earthworms are the heaviest of all animals," says Jean-Marc Nicolet, who was also a long-time green deputy in the Vaud Grand Council, drawing on the blackboard. Of course," smiles the champion, "that day we had gone to get worms all morning and my mom had taken me to McDonald's for lunch, which was rare. Since then, I always associate fries with worms..."

The sportswoman was about 12 years old. "I had quite a bit of trouble in school at the time. I was a bit of a dreamer and I had just had some tough teachers, who scared me. I was working hard though." With Jean-Marc Nicolet, her main teacher, she discovered another style: "His way of talking to us, his gentleness. He was calm, he never judged those who were a little different, he integrated them. You could feel that equality was something important to him." Then everything changed for her. "I completely turned around.

Thanks to him, I started to love school and was able to accomplish good academics. After VSG, I did a tenth grade and then VSB. I feel like saying thank you to him."

Source: Maude Mathys: "Thanks to him, I started to love school" - The Illustrated - August 26, 2022

Positive behaviors

  • And they would be lenient when you give them a bad assignment! He would be calm.
  • He should always arrive on time. Sick of waiting!
  • And wouldn't get mad if we didn't understand the lesson!"
  • And teachers wouldn't punish students.


  • I wish there were fewer teachers and that the principal was our friend.
  • The teachers would be docile ghosts and the supervisors silent woodpeckers.
  • He should allow us to eat in class.

Is the teacher, the one who is listened to, who teaches a single solution and before whom the students are silent, still useful to the class?

"Early in her teaching career, Karen Trilles realizes that she "does a lot of things out of habit, because that's the way it's always been done," but that she doesn't see the point. For her, the classroom should be more focused on the specific needs of students. "Teaching all kids the same thing at the same age is aberrant." She embarks on a tireless search for solutions, experiments, trains. But she still feels the result is not finished.

In 2015, she spent an entire summer brainstorming and gathering materials.

"When school started, I changed everything. In the classroom, I took out the desks, put in some big tables and rugs. I told the kids, 'I've never done this before, let's go together.' My principal supported me, the parents trusted me."

Source: These Teachers Who Dream of a Different School - Heidi NEWS - December 9, 2021 -


After-school is becoming a mainstay of the school. Just as parents have delegated the social education of children to the school, so extracurriculars are slipping from the responsibility of the family to that of the school.


  • We would be taken every week to outdoor activities like escape games or go-karting.
  • I wish there were more parties every month.
  • activities and field trips on Wednesdays and Saturdays, etc.
  • My ideal school is a school where you could sleep in anytime you want.

"Extracurricular activities: benefits

Extracurricular activities are a great way to learn skills that will help you in the future. These include developing personal and social skills, and learning teamwork . Here are some of the benefits of extracurricular activities:

  1. Improving student socialization

    One of the most important benefits of extracurricular activities is that they provide a healthy social life for students. Children who participate in extracurricular activities feel more accepted and less isolated. They also have higher self-esteem, which can help them in the classroom.

  2. Learning the values of perseverance and responsibility
    After-school activities help students learn the values of perseverance and responsibility. They give students the opportunity to test their skills, build relationships with their peers, and make friends.

    Extracurricular activities can be anything from clubs to sports to volunteering. These activities help students learn the values of perseverance and responsibility in a variety of ways. Students can also use these opportunities to test their skills and build relationships with their peers in a safe environment.

  3. Discovering new areas of interest

    As students are busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities, they don't have time to explore new interests. That's where extracurricular activities come in. They help students discover new interests and give them time to dive into something they are passionate about."

Source: Extracurricular Activity: Life Outside the Classroom - February 26, 2022


  • The meal would be better, with more quantity;
  • Healthy food in the canteen (students are made to eat really anything) with a vegetarian menu for example;
  • You can order the food to eat;
  • I would like a college with a canteen, which respects everyone's tastes. There would be everything you want on the menus. And at a really affordable price.

If school feeds the mind, it also feeds the body and sociability a meal, 5 days a week.

"Canteen in Schools: feeding Quebec's future

Did you know that Canada is the only G7 country that does not offer a school lunch program that is accessible to all elementary school students?

As a charitable organization, Canteen for All aims to create a movement so that all children in Quebec can eat healthily at school, regardless of their socio-economic background.

Our Canteen in the Schools program allows all students in participating schools to receive healthy and affordable lunches, prepared by a community caterer, that parents pay for within their means."

Source: Canteen for All


  • And parents could come to us whenever we want!
  • Everyone would know each other. That way, there would never be any fights , arguments.. etc... in short, the dream what!
  • I like college, because I have a lot of friends.
  • There is no ideal school. There doesn't have to be, by the way. School is for working. We must keep the pleasure of playing and imagining outside of this place of work.
  • For me, the ideal school would be boarding school with individual rooms,

"Star School participates in your child's education by putting your child at the center of his attention. Respecting the Plan d'Etudes Romand, we combine this program with an education inspired by the Montessori method to allow children to act freely on their own initiative, and to respond to their needs through individual and spontaneous activity.

Source: School of Stars

Knowing how to listen to students can be the source of inspiration for renewing tomorrow's school towards the 21st century. Pay attention, even the most insignificant of responses can carry with it the wisdom of a future to come.

Image source: Pixabay TAKEN

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