Alternative Places of Learning in Schools

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But sometimes, what you learn in the classroom does not come close to the things you learn outside of it. This article aims to explore other parts within a school that have the potential to give valuable lessons in and about life.

Our first stop is the gate. Yes, that gate. The sometimes rickety, sometimes rusty gate that serves as a boundary between school life and the outside world. The gate where you enter the hallowed grounds of the school. The same gate that so painstakingly gives students a choice: enter or do not enter.

Some make this choice unconsciously, resigned or just willing to step inside the campus to do their tasks. Others face a more conscious decision, others who aren’t too keen on the idea of attending school. In any case, the gate is a symbol for the first measure of responsibility in a student. Do your thing or skip class.

Next stop: the library. With its quiet atmosphere and often just-right room temperature, where else would be more conducive for studying, doing your homework, and…sleeping? Many have gone there intending to study, but instead of putting a book’s content into their head, they end up putting their head on the book. So the library is one place to test one’s will and discipline.  

The cafeteria is another location in school that has the potential to teach alternative lessons to the students. For many, the canteen or cafeteria is only a place where they will take a quick lunch before proceeding on to cramming for their remaining homework. As author Douglas Adams once said, “time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.” Students, in many ways, can attest to that.

Still, the cafeteria is an invaluable environment that further makes the school a valid microcosm of adult society. On one hand, you have the economic aspect of the cafeteria. It is, essentially, a place where students get one of the basic needs in life: food. It is a market for a commodity, and thus represents problem solving in terms of how to budget one’s lunch money.

It may seem a trite task, but you definitely won’t be laughing when you are budgeting the lunch money of an entire family in the future. It is also the kind of microeconomics that poses such options to students: do I buy this lunch, or do I go for something cheaper and save money for that video game I want to play? This, then, provides a scenario where the student has to identify his or her priorities.

On another hand, the cafeteria provides a social environment as well. Who are the kids sitting together? In what way can you classify the groups? Who are left out? How do the students treat their teachers in the cafeteria environment, and vice versa? The cafeteria doubtlessly illustrates how robust and dynamic the interactions between this microcosm of society is.

The gate and the cafeteria are just a couple of locations within schools that surely offer valuable alternative lessons for the students who spend countless hours on their chairs facing a blackboard or whiteboard while listening to the drone of instruction. These locations allow a different kind of instruction altogether, the kind that the individual student finds out on his or her own. Sometimes, it is the kind of lesson that could prove to be more valuable than any formula or any fact.

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