Although “thinking outside the box” is a common example of business buzzwords, there are actually many educational benefits of staying inside the box every once in a while. Much like in the classic Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment, which debunks quantum physics by means of a cat in a box (we won’t bore you with the details), containers can be a surprisingly helpful vessel for learning.
Increasingly, educational establishments are using shipping containers as a building material for new classrooms. Portable classrooms are nothing new – Terrapin huts have long been a fixture of schools that need to expand classroom space in a hurry – but the increased durability and potential of the shipping container is starting to build in popularity.
Whether one or two containers are used as a temporary classroom, or multiple containers are used as building blocks for an entire building, storage containers are an ideal way to expand space at a school. Construction on multi-container buildings can be undertaken very quickly, reducing disruption to the school day, and allowing for a rapid response to increased intake levels.
Conversions of single or double units can also be undertaken quickly, and the results will actually be far more portable than a traditional portable classroom. Also open to a much wider range of possibilities in terms of the uses and layout, the use of storage containers allows classrooms to be built for specific needs, rather than adapting teaching to existing resources.
Further afield, shipping containers are used to provide educational resources in areas with limited power infrastructure, and less access to education. ZubaBox, for example, is a joint effort from Dell and Computer Aid that provides solar-powered internet hubs and classrooms to areas that lack electricity and internet access, allowing children to access IT education that greatly improves their chances of finding employment.
To look at them in their natural form, you might think a shipping container – a secure industrial metal box – would be the last place you would want to teach, but the options for conversions make them ideal across the globe, from a large London school that needs a little more space, to providing an entire educational infrastructure for a rural area of Nigeria. Suddenly, encouraging children to learn to think inside the box doesn’t seem like such a terrible idea.