Pop-up stores. Pop-up bars. Pop-up galleries. Pop-up performances. We have seen these short-term events “popping” up everywhere, making temporary use of physical space to create long-term impressions on customers and audiences.
Are pop-up schools a possibility? We certainly recognize that not all learning occurs within the confines of a traditional school building. The ever-increasing accessibility of the internet makes it possible for learning to happen wherever and whenever connectivity is possible. When individuals with expertise to share and others with questions to ask come together, a pop-up school can blossom for a time.
A pop-up school can take place at a special, inspiring location, to place a spotlight on a particular theme. Design thinking can be a vital element, as participants define a challenge and interest and discuss personal connections to the topic. Working cooperatively, pop up school participants are able to research opportunities and possibilities, exploring creative and innovative solutions with those who would directly benefit.
Educators, activists, and communities have been experimenting with just such an impromptu approach to learning, which can bring teachers and students together through short term, goal-focused activities. For example, in the United States, an organization called New York’s Education from the Inside Out (EIO) Coalition has organized so called “Radical Pop-Up Schools.” Over 30 community organizers from across New York City transformed Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem and Herbert von King Park in Brooklyn into schools. To support these educationally disadvantaged communities, the pop-up schools offered knowledge and resources to help the community navigate and overcome challenges, including discussions about inequality, incarceration, financial planning, health, trauma, and justice.
Pop Up Schools can address many types of learning needs for a community and may have particular implications for providing learning spaces for children’s education especially in places where traditional schools and school buildings are not available.