From factories to desk jobs: How classroom design is preparing Northwest Austin students for future careers

Johnson Elementary School in Round Rock ISD incorporates a more modern classroom design.

Johnson Elementary School in Round Rock ISD incorporates a more modern classroom design.

In many classrooms throughout Northwest Austin, students are no longer sitting in neatly lined rows.

New classrooms contain movable furniture and sometimes do not have a fourth wall, Austin ISD Associate Superintendent Craig Shapiro said.

“We’re trying to realign education so kids are well-prepared to not only know stuff but also be prepared for future jobs,” he said.

Shapiro said the traditional classroom model was created in the 1800s to complement factories—the main job for which students were trained. That is why classrooms have rows of desks and bells to signal the start and end of class, he said.

AISD’s proposed 2017 bond plans for nine new schools to be built using the new classroom design and seven pre-existing schools to be modernized. Schools in the district that already have the new classroom design include Anderson High School.

Round Rock RISD also has modernized classrooms at new schools, such as Johnson Elementary School.

“I come from schools where there were four solid walls,” Johnson fifth-grade teacher Ashley Hentves said. “Now I have three walls and I never want to go back.”
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