The 1000 mph classroom

14 Nov
November 14, 2014

The classroom has come under pressure of late.  Considered expensive by some and containing poor content by others, the classroom has had its fair share of ups and downs – but if delivered at 1000 mph, classrooms can serve a variety of purposes.

Classroom crisis?

The Learning Survey 2014 from the Learning and Performance Institute contains a comprehensive range of trends affecting the learning and development arena.  Within the report there was some mixed information regarding the use of classrooms with 25% of respondents suggesting that they were making more or much more use of classrooms while 29% of respondents suggesting they were using classrooms less or much less than the year before.  This can be contrasted with the post I wrote earlier in the year which suggested that – via research from Digital Arts – classrooms were on the up.

Either way, all of us in L&D know that the delivery of learning via classrooms can be both good and bad.  But classrooms don’t have to be bad, or even less than good – indeed they can be great!

Breaking the barrier

Richard Noble is a man I have a great deal of admiration for.   As the one-time holder of the land speed record in Thrust 2 when asked why he’d wanted to break the record he replied: “For Britain and for the hell of it.”  As if that wasn’t enough, Richard then led the team whose Thrust SSC became the first car ever to break the speed of sound.

But even 763 mph  wasn’t enough!  Richard wanted to push the limit of what was possible with a car – and this meant breaking 1000 mph.

The 1000 mph ‘give to get’

To achieve this colossal speed, Bloodhound SSC  – as the proposed car was named – required a serious amount of thrust, and the only engine that would work belonged to the UK military, and was therefore not available to Richard and his team.  That was, until Lord Drayson – who, at the time, headed the Department for Business Innovation and Skills – got involved. Lord Drayson offered an amazing give to get – Richard would get three engines if he used the thrill and technology of achieving 1000 mph to engage and educate a wide range of school children in STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths.

 A classroom that’s engaging

And so the 1000 mph classroom was born.  Obviously, the classroom doesn’t travel at 1000 mph but young people are engaged with the thrill and challenges of the Bloodhound SSC project.

I doubt that many of us recall geometry lessons with much glee – but what if the circumference of a circle – C=2πr – could be translated into forged wheels travelling across a desert floor?  That’s a bit more interesting, isn’t it?

Engagement drives economics

All of us – and I mean ALL of us – owe a massive debt to scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.  Without these people we’d have no internet or computers or cars or homes or washing machines or kettles or carpets or clothes or . . . well I guess you get the picture.  The Bloodhound SSC project is driving engagement with young people – people whose minds are expanded, people  who may – just may – become the next Noble, the next Brunel, the next Cockrell, Whittle or Turing – and those are the wonderful things that drive the economy and make the world a better place for all of us.


I appreciate that there’s only one 1000 mph classroom but perhaps – just perhaps – all of us associated with L&D can look at the way we deliver content and challenge ourselves to do better – to engage with the next great mind – or just stimulate the minds that deliver the next 1000 mph classroom.

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