DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Knowing the many challenges facing public education in America today, Balfour Beatty US joins the K12 MindShift project to introduce the new book Humanizing the Education Machine. Co-authored by Balfour Beatty’s Brian Cahill, the book explores learning as a uniquely human experience, provides insight into what’s working at some high-performing schools across the country and offers a plan of action for enabling schools to thrive in the 21st century.
Led by futurist Rex Miller, the K12 MindShift project brought together teachers, parents, students, administrators, and other subject matter experts to reimagine the future of learning and study highly-innovative schools that are achieving excellence in some of the most unlikely places around the country. The culmination of the two-year project, Humanizing the Education Machine shares inspiring stories from these remarkable schools, and tells a story of what 21st century learning looks like and how educators can bring that dynamic into their schools.
“Our vision at Balfour Beatty is to help transform K12 schools in America by partnering with education leaders across the country to reimagine the future of learning and the built environments our children need to succeed in the 21st century,” said Brian Cahill, Balfour Beatty’s California division president. “We took a leadership role in helping drive the K12 MindShift project because in addition to being a great K12 builder for our clients, we want to be their partner in understanding the challenges they face, and helping them achieve their goals. After two years of research and learning from some amazing schools, we’re excited to share the powerful new ideas included in the book.”
Gutenberg to Google
Today’s “education machine” was designed based on a revolution that began in the 15th century with Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press that dramatically transformed the way the world learned and shared information. However, as the book’s authors contend, the current “Google revolution” is having a “chaotic, conflictive, and disruptive effect that is similar to Gutenberg’s printing press, multiplied across the globe.” Though the impact of Moore’s law, which portends that the power of computer chip performance doubles every two years, and the need to rapidly innovate is widely understood in the business and technology world, the authors explain this concept has largely been ignored in education.
“The pace of change is increasing exponentially, and students today are learning skills for jobs that do not currently exist,” Cahill explains in chapter six. “Learning must include the ability to adapt to the rapid pace of change, collaborate and bounce back in a world of flux.”
K12 Design and Construction
When it comes to the role construction and design play in K12 education, the great shift toward humanizing the education experience requires future-ready schools that are designed with the users – students and teachers of this and future generations – in mind. The fact is that over half of today’s K12 schools in the United States were built and designed in the industrial era for the baby boomer generation. This shift is already impacting some of Balfour Beatty’s most progressive K12 clients who are faced with decisions on how to design and build learning environments that engage and prepare students for success in the 21st century.
New learning models like project-based learning, personalized learning, smaller learning communities, and advanced career and technology centers all require different kinds of learning spaces. Classroom flexibility that evolves from the four-walled rectangular classroom into engaging open spaces is shifting the student-teacher dynamic and better enabling students to participate in experiential learning. In addition, the rapid rate of technology innovation is also significantly impacting classroom design, requiring flexibility to adapt to future applications.
School of the Future
In the book’s final chapter “Humanity High, The Movie”, the authors paint a vivid and exciting vision of the future of learning based on real examples from schools the K12 MindShift project team visited. Meant to present thought-provoking possibilities for the school of the future, the authors seek to release readers’ imaginations of what’s possible for their own schools. Written like a novel, Humanity High’s principal guides the reader through the school, describing its key attributes, including its student-centered, eco-friendly design that extends learning spaces across campus, throughout common areas and outdoors. The principal goes on to describe the many benefits of her school’s commitment to promoting respect for one another, engaging the community, and stimulating students’ curiosity in an encouraging, positive environment.
Humanizing the Education Machine was co-authored by Rex Miller, Bill Latham and Brian Cahill. Miller serves as principal of MindShift, a future-focused consultancy and organizational performance firm. Latham is CEO of MeTEOR Education, an organization that works alongside communities and their students in creating transformational learning experiences and supportive, high-impact environments. Cahill serves as California division president of Balfour Beatty US, the second largest builder of K12 educational facilities in the United States as ranked by Building Design + Construction magazine. For more information about the project and book, visit www.hope.school.
About Balfour Beatty US
Balfour Beatty US is an industry-leading provider of general contracting, at-risk construction management and design-build services for public and private sector clients across the nation. Performing heavy civil and vertical construction, the company is the US subsidiary of London-based Balfour Beatty plc (LSE: BBY), a leading international infrastructure group that finances, develops, builds and maintains complex building programs focused on social and commercial buildings, power and utility systems, and transportation. Consistently ranked among the nation’s largest building contractors, Balfour Beatty US is the No. 3 Domestic Building Contractor as ranked by Engineering News-Record. To learn more, visit www.balfourbeattyus.com and www.bbiius.com.