1 October 2018
Learning labs — New types of laboratories have been emerging across Europe, breaking away from traditional academic practice and encouraging a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to learning. Is this the model of future education?
Words by Veronica Simpson
Universities are no longer the gatekeepers to knowledge. With access to unlimited information online, why would anyone sign up for a geographically inconvenient, often overpriced, possibly outdated and narrow, subject-specific university education when they could learn live in a transdisciplinary laboratory?
The lab is increasingly where it’s at for the curious creative. Some have been around for a decade or more, others are newly hatched, but all of the different models we are highlighting on these pages offer a flexibility and focus that accommodate individual preferences and reflect the requirements of the real world, rather than the bureaucratic, precedent-based practices of academia.
The modern lab-style education can concentrate on questions that need answering, and take a critical position on the cultural, social and environmental issues of the day. Contrast this with contemporary institutional practice in the UK and USA in particular, where education is increasingly hamstrung by the need to answer questions that only their funding agencies and sponsors want to ask. Labs can take up that moral position — that desire for personal and social growth, for civic advancement and enlightenment — which many of our institutions seem to have forgotten was once their guiding principle.
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