This essay describes the role of education and how it can be assisted by the ideal classroom and school, ultimately concluding that such concepts are tied into present culture and needs and so should remain flexible. Ultimately, the construction of any ideal is dependent upon perspective and the ability to meet the needs of one's learners. It is therefore imperative that ideals are not copied from one place to another, but that each educator seeks their own answers.
Many of the more pragmatic suggestions for creating an ideal classroom in research literature relate to secondary education, but interestingly the two projects currently attempting to construct an ideal classroom are focussing on the primary age range. With the practicalities of constructing an ideal classroom at an early stage in academic literature, a more philosophical approach is taken in this essay. From this perspective, practical ideas are discussed in terms of why they are thought to be ideal. As the notion of an ideal classroom is as much a theoretical as a practical concern, I do not judge the existing literature to be lacking as empirical research into an ideal classroom would be heavily dependent upon its culture and context, arguably suffering from a lack of generalisability from its very nature.
The broader role of education discussed by Wragg in Moon et al. ...
The broader role of education discussed by Wragg in Moon et al. (2002) includes flexibility, that the aim is simply to meet students' needs. While this slightly dodges a question by posing another question (e.g. who determines and limits the needs), the intent suggests that the concept of 'ideal' has to be a fluid one. An ideal classroom now may not be one in 20 years, nor is the ideal classroom for a London school necessarily ideal for a similar school in Hull. The concept of an ideal classroom and school may be culture bound as much as it is resource driven, so it is necessarily to strictly define for what purpose the classroom is 'ideal'. As with Moon et al. (ibid), this poses the question "ideal for what"
To argue that education has changed so little over millennia suggests comparison to another field where little has changed, namely philosophy. Philosophy has value to society for its questions rather than its answers, and I would argue that education is very much the same. It is so much a part of our human and social condition that each generation must ask itself the same questions even if the answers are only temporary. If philosophy is the question of who we are, education represents who we want to be. In the thousands of years of human education, classrooms and schools are a relatively recent innovation. They arguably account for a small proportion of what is learnt through a lifetime, for example Moon argues that
the challenge for formal teaching is how to transpose the extraordinary human capacity for learning, particularly in the young, to those artificial worlds we have created in schools and classrooms.
(Moon et al., 2002 p.3)
McIntyre illustrates this point by stressing that the "concept of teaching has no