The 13 Most Innovative Schools in the World

Makoko Floating School. Lagos, Nigeria. The school that floats.

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In the floating neighborhood of Makoko, this all ages school serves as a communal learning space and example for future building projects in Africa’s coastal regions.

Makoko’s triangular frame is three stories high, built to resist rising water levels in the lagoon. At 1,000 square feet, the school (created byarchitecture firm NLÉ, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the United Nations) includes a play area, compost toilets, and classrooms, all of which can house up to 100 students or residents.

AltSchool. San Francisco, California. The school of Silicon Valley.

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AltSchool is a complete departure from traditional education, shirking the traditional testing model for one that improves technology skills and gets kids thinking flexibly so they can adapt as the world changes.

Kids turn everyday objects into circuit boards and learn 3D modeling to build playhouses, all in the pursuit of feeling comfortable with the future that greets them.

Brightworks School. San Francisco, California. The school that teaches dangerously.

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Launched by visionary Gever Tulley in 2011, Brightworks takes some of the most dangerous things parents tell their kids not to do and makes an entire curriculum out of them. Kids in grades K to 12 get dirty, play with fire, take apart home appliances, and complete art projects all in the same day.

Samaschool. San Francisco, California. The school that says it’s not too late.

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In-demand jobs are hard enough to find, let alone for people in low-income areas. But those are the peopleSamaschool wants most, which is why the school gives adults who struggle to find employment a leg up, with an education focused on the digital and entrepreneurial skills necessary in today’s market.

Ørestad Gymnasium. Copenhagen, Denmark. The school in a cube.

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Ørestad Gymnasium is one giant classroom, where more than 1,100 high school students spend half their time learning in an expansive glass cube — a “gymnasium,” as parts of Europe still call secondary schools — to avoid traditional instruction.

By encouraging students to collaborate in wide-open settings, the school hopes kids will be equipped to think flexibly on diverse topics later in life.

Sra Pou Vocational School. Sra Pou village, Cambodia. The school for building community.

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Designed by Finnish architecture firmRudanko + Kankkunen, the all-ages Cambodian school was built by community members, for community members, to learn how to turn their passions into full-fledged businesses. A local NGO provides teachers to guide students on that path.

Building the school was a lesson in itself, as architects created the structure side by side with local residents, giving them pointers on how to construct similarly styled buildings on their own.

Carpe Diem Schools. Aiken, Ohio. The school built like an office.

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The Carpe Diem school look more like an office building than a classroom.

Inside the main room, known as The Learning Center, there are 300 cubicles (one for each student). These cubes house a computer that guides the student through his or her education.

Big Picture Learning. Providence, Rhode Island. The school in the real world.

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The Big Picture Learning model breaks down the walls between education and the working world.

From the beginning, k-12 students learn their creative passions will come first. To help stoke those passions, students are paired with mentors who work in the fields the students want to someday enter.

P-TECH High School. Brooklyn, New York. The school that bridges high school and college.p-tech-high-school-brooklyn-new-york-the-school-that-bridges-high-school-and-college

P-TECH was launched in 2011 by IBM to give teens in New York a way into college that avoided the usual four-year high-school track.

Instead, P-TECH students complete a six-year degree. Boosted by mentorship and internships in STEM fields, the fifth and sixth years earn students an associate’s degree from the nearby New York City College of Technology, and many go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree afterward.

Innova Schools. Peru. The school built by world-class designers.

 

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Innova is Peru’s response to failing standardized education in the country. The school combines several different forms of instruction — tech-heavy online learning, guided lessons, group work — in a setting that was designed to be modular and adaptable to the location.

Ex-engineer Jorge Yzusqui illionaire businessman Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor approached Yzusqui with plans to collaborate and expand, with help from global design firm IDEO. Today, there are 29 schools across the country.

Egalia Pre-school. Stockholm, Sweden. The school without gender.

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The Egalia school system is founded on total equality between students. The system is made up of two schools, Egalia and Nicolaigården, which reject gender-based pronouns in the hopes of grooming kids to think of one another on equal terms.

Instead of “he” and “she,” kids are either called by their first names or referred to as “they.” It’s part of a mission to avoid discrimination of all kinds.

Steve Jobs School. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The school that thinks different.

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Like its namesake suggests, the Steve Jobs school rejects the conventional wisdom in full: Instead of corralling kids through the same educational system, they go at their own pace.

Maurice de Hond, the school’s founder, tells Tech Insider that each student begins with an Individual Development Plan (IDP), which is evaluated and readjusted every six weeks by the child, his or her parents, and the coach. (The school doesn’t call them “teachers.”)

Blue School. New York, New York. The school fusing compassion and creativity.

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Creativity is king at Blue School, which was founded as a playgroup in 2006 by the Blue Man Group. Sensing a gap in how schools operated, the group strove to bring its quirkiness and love of inquiry into education.

As part of the curriculum, kids in grades 2 to 8 come up with ways to improve recycling, create 3D models of New York City, and fix home appliances.