By:  Rosanne Franco

“Classrooms without walls” is the concept of learning outside of a structured classroom, first explained by Marshall McLuhan. The teachers of classrooms without walls include parents, family members, coaches, dance and music teachers, Gravity and playground equipment, neighbors, youth group ministers, and so on. Everyone has the opportunity to be a student and a teacher in classrooms without walls. Whether by choice or necessity, even adults continue learning beyond their school years. In fact, Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Opportunities come through the activities associated with playing in both a completely unstructured fashion and through more structured extracurricular activities. According to author Joy Burgess, “Allowing your child to get involved in extracurricular activities at school is a wise choice, and it can be very important in helping them to develop many working skills, people skills, and more.” She goes on to explain the benefits of extracurricular activities as a contributing author on a website designed to help parents partner with educators.

Outside of the classroom, children have innumerable opportunities to learn life skills essential to absorbing the knowledge they need to develop common sense. Those who monitor students outside of classrooms learn the delicate balance of allowing students to learn independently.  Accountability often makes it difficult to allow a child to fail. However, our most valuable lessons are usually learned while making mistakes and suffering the consequences. The whole world watched this when Steve Harvey said, “Failure is a great teacher, and I think when you make mistakes and you recover from them and you treat them as valuable learning experiences, then you’ve got something to share.” Thankfully, students don’t make mistakes on the world stage as they learn. However, being prepared to handle mistakes gracefully, as Steve Harvey did, is an important part of learning how to handle failure and develop common sense.

In an ever-shrinking world, students need every opportunity to develop common sense as they strive to become advanced in all curriculum standards. However, the pressure to achieve these standards leaves little room for learning from mistakes and students seldom learn the basic proverbs needed for living a good life. These proverbs, as developed by countless cultures, were recorded to help children learn common sense. In this fast-paced world, children spend less time interacting with each other and more time interacting with machines.  Our schools must encourage unstructured play and structured extracurricular activities to develop common sense in our future citizens.