It’s August. That means schools across the country are soon going to be starting back up for another academic year. One staple of the high school experience is socializing with friends at the lockers between classes. Or is it?
Last spring I came across this article from The Washington Post — Schools and lockers: No longer the right combination
It’s stuck with me. When I can’t sleep at night, I wonder what a locker-less high school might look like. This paragraph from the article, written by Joe Heim, is what got my mind racing:
“Once the gravitational center of the high school day, lockers long ago lost their allure, and their usefulness seems a relic of an epoch of education that has slipped away. Movies and television shows about high schools may still feature students decorating lockers — or being shoved into them — but in the real world, lockers have all but been abandoned. The trend has expanded so rapidly and widely that schools are now removing individual student lockers from their hallways, and builders and designers for many new high schools don’t even include them in their plans.”
New schools designs skip including lockers. Why? According to the article, students don’t use them. After all, students of this current generation want everything they might need with them all the time. Maybe that means carrying heavier backpacks loaded down with all but the kitchen sink, which could have negative health impacts.
Or, perhaps it means more technology. Many schools are implementing one-to-one technology initiatives. Some are focusing on Google Chromebooks. Others are capitalizing on Apple iPads. And there are numerous other computing technologies that could be implemented. Providing students with such technologies could eliminate the need for physical textbooks. Digital versions could simply be loaded on the devices. Then a heavy textbook for each class doesn’t need to be shoved into a backpack or locker. It takes up no more space and weighs no more than a student’s Chromebook or iPad.
Likewise, the need for binders and notebooks goes away. If teachers fully adopt the technology being made available to them, they can create a paperless classroom. Learning management systems such as Google Classroom, Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, et cetera, can allow students to create and submit assignments and homework without having to scratch out answers on paper. An added bonus is teachers then don’t have to attempt to decipher the horrendous handwriting they are sure to encounter.
Students today are digital natives. They are extremely comfortable with technology, and they want to use technology as much as possible. In order to capitalize on that interest and get the students to buy-in to their educations, educators need to capitalize on technology.
Now, students still need to learn important interpersonal skills that can get lost with too much screen time. However, if educators do not welcome technology into their classrooms, the students will be resistant.
Of course, if technology is so widely adopted in schools, the question returns to the lockers. What should be done with them?
They need to go. Think of what could be done with the space lockers take up. Maybe it allows for something like a bar where students could sit and work on homework and charge their devices. Maybe classrooms can be expanded. Or perhaps in-school businesses could be set up, such as a coffee shop run by the entrepreneurship class.
Granted some ideas would take radical remodeling, but the possibilities are intriguing if lockers were no longer needed. They take up a lot of space inside of a school building. Without them, so much could be done in the space. It would just take vision by school leaders to most effectively implement a locker-less floor plan.
I’m sure when students re-enter the schoolhouse halls for this school year, lockers will still be readily available. Such a change as losing lockers won’t happen overnight, but the future would seem to point toward this. After all, as the article pointed out:
“[H]igh school students make clear is they have no interest in claiming a thin box of metal that is 5 feet high, 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep as a home away from home. Lockers are as necessary for them as a telephone book.”
As an educator, I look forward to the possibilities of a locker-less school. The innovations that could come about are exciting.