“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” ~ Yogi Berra.
Clearly, change is in the air these days in education, whether we’re Waiting for Superman, racing to the top, dotting our three i’s, or wondering how tea party politics may change the face of Washington.
In light of all these changes and uncertainties, the question on many minds is likely, where is it all leading?
The most truthful answer anyone can give to that question is this one: nobody knows for sure.
It’s simply not possible to predict how all of these various trends will come together to shape a new future. That doesn’t mean, though, that we can’t prepare ourselves for it. The trick is to consider multiple, alternative futures and begin to envision how we—or our districts, schools, or students—might flourish in each.
In a new book from McREL to be released this month by Solution Tree Press, we analyze current and emerging trends in a wide array of areas, including politics, the economy, technology, and society. After analyzing these trends, we offer, not a prediction of the future, but four, very different scenarios for what the future may hold.
The scenarios in the book, titled The Future of Schooling: Educating America in 2020, are designed to provoke readers to ponder many “what if,” questions, including:
- What if the current, multibillion-dollar federal investment in education succeeds in identifying and scaling up numerous innovations that transform schooling as we know it?
- What if, on the other hand, investing billions of new dollars fails to create dramatic improvements in education? Will the public continue to support public schools as we know them?
- What if online learning becomes as commonplace in the schools of tomorrow as chalkboards were in the schools of yesterday?
- What if technology allows students to proceed at their own pace along individualized pathways, measuring their progress in real time at each step of the way?
- What if the world’s best teachers are able to broadcast their lessons to thousands of students each day?
The reality is that the world of education is changing rapidly. While we don’t know exactly what lies ahead, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the world standing still and education in 10 years looking exactly the same as it does today.
The good news is that when confronted with this uncertainty, we don’t have to throw up our hands in hopeless desperation (or stick our heads in the sand). Rather, we can begin preparing today for what tomorrow may bring.
Bryan Goodwin is McREL’s Vice President of Communications and Marketing.