What is the future of education? There have been countless theories about the future of education since John Dewey. John Dewey (1859–1952), believed that human beings learned through a “hands-on” approach which is identified as the educational philosophy of pragmatism. This educational philosophy believes that students must interact with their environment in order to adapt and learn. Some of the most notable pragmatic philosophers from the 19th Century include Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey.
Additionally, there are several other educational philosophies including: Perennialism, Essentialism, Progressivism, and Reconstructionism. These philosophies tend to focus on what we should teach and not how to teach it. Many of these were underlying foundations in development of the state standards that we know today. Finally, instructors have been the “controller” of the knowledge or “sage on the stage” rather than a facilitator of knowledge and learning. So, what is the connection to 2020 and the future of education?
Four common themes have been emphasized for a 21st Century Education: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration. Two additional themes that have been recently added include Citizenship and Character Development. Creativity is about thinking about information in new and innovative ways.
Critical Thinking is analyzing information while also being critical and critiquing claims. Communication is more than simply talking, but sharing of concepts, ideas, and solutions in respectful and meaningful ways. Collaboration is the ability to work as a team towards a quantified objective. While all of concepts are extremely important for robust 21st Century Education and in the work place, there is still a missing component, kinesthetic learning.
While it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to predict what education will look in 2030, ten years into the future and 2050, thirty years in the future, based on current trends some “best guesses” have been conceptualized.
By 2030, education has become more individualized based on each person’s primary learning styles, cognitive skills and abilities. Over the past few years, adaptive learning software has been developed and will continue to be refined. Many web-based assessment programs are already incorporating this technology. Based on the performance of the individual, questions become more or less difficult based on Depth of Knowledge (DOK), but are still standards based and aligned.
Many futurists believe that adaptive learning software will continue to evolve as Artificial Intelligence continues to develop. By the year 2030, it is believed and hoped that the role of the teacher will evolve from the keeper of the knowledge, “sage on the stage,” to a true facilitator of knowledge. Generation Alpha, people born since 2010, will have access to technology that is almost unconceivable today.
By the year 2050, many futurists hypothesize that education could be dramatically different than it is today. It is believed that Artificial Intelligence will become a mature technology allowing rich and engaging adaptive software. Education could become truly globalized allowing students access to experts throughout the world. In the morning, a professor in Australia could be facilitating a discussion on the Aborigines, while in the afternoon a professor in France could be facilitating a discussion on art from the Louvre in Paris. If we consider how much the Internet has become a component everyone’s life and education (in no small part to the pandemic), this and so much more is possible. We are only limited to our imagination.
While the future maybe oblique and unknown, it is widely believed that Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM/STEM) will become a cornerstone of education for all grade levels with robotics a key component of that cornerstone. Over the next few years, students’ access to robotics will continue to expand while simultaneously robotic technology will continue to evolve paralleling technology development.
Over 100 years John Dewey was convinced that pragmatism and “hands-on” or kinesthetic learning was essential to “deep learning”. While the future of education will contain changes that are unforeseeable and imaginable now, kinesthetic learning should continue to a key component of the educational experience.