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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

21st Century classrooms needed for the future

By Jorgen Lindgren Hansen (China Daily)

14:01, March 19, 2012

At a time when new technology is constantly revolutionizing the way we live, what can be said about our schools? How can we accept that in 2012, school classrooms have not progressed much since an era that had no telephones or televisions, let alone computers. The truth seems inconceivable. We should be skeptical of the assumption that children can be well trained and prepared for their futures while still using the tools of yesterday.

Children nowadays are familiar with laptops, iPads, and interactive video games from an early age. Good or bad, technology is here, changing our methods of communication and thinking. Schools should not ignore this evolution. The aim here is not to get rid of books and pencils, but to make the most of technical advances in order to provide teachers with access to new, efficient, educational tools, for example, electronic whiteboards that enable teachers to engage students with interactive features.

Outside of the classroom, the Internet has begun to allow parents to keep track of their child's work. Lessons posted online not only allow students, but also their parents, to access materials, their marks, absences and late arrivals throughout the term. This is especially convenient for separated or divorced parents, and parents who work unusual hours.

Yet, despite major changes in society since the beginning of the 20th century, the furniture and classroom layout in our schools has barely changed.A study financed by a regional government in Germany in partnership with the Social Security Fund found that 48 percent of 11-14 year olds already exhibit posture problems. This comparative study, carried out from 2000 to 2004 by Dr. Breithecker, a specialist in ergonomics and head of posture and exercise of the German Ministry of Health, proves the unquestionable benefits of ergonomic workspaces in schools. While office furniture for adults, who have already developed back pain and bad posture, are invested with technology, such as special foams, fabrics, options for adjustments, why not invest well-designed furniture and workspaces for children in order to help prevent these problems developing in the first place.

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