Gary Stager on the future of schools from a soon to be released conference video:
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I will make one prediction about the future of education and that is that schools will no longer enjoy the monopoly on children’s time that they currently hold. Simply put, that means kids won’t spend as much time in schools as they do today. And one of the reasons I know that I’m 110% accurate in that prediction is that every politician on earth says the exact opposite.
When we were an agrarian society kids stayed home with their parents. When parents went off to factory jobs kids went off to factory schools. There are enough changes in the work pattern and dissatisfaction with school and opportunities to learn in a variety of places that if for no other reason that you’re tired of getting your kid up before sunrise to go somewhere every day, I think kids won’t spend as much time in schools as they do today.
And then the challenge for schools becomes, if we think of school as a technology, how do we gain the greatest affordances of being co-located in the same physical space at the same time? And ironically, many of the things that we as a society devalue the most, the first, are the actual things that will keep school viable in the future. I don’t have an orchestra at home, or pottery kilns, or science labs, or field trips, or enough people and stuff to build some wondrous project that requires us to be in the same space at the same time. Much of what’s actually tested and valued by the current system doesn’t need to take place through some set schedule in one place at the same time.
A more dystopian view of what schools will look like in the future is they’ll be exactly the same way they are today but there won’t be any kids there.
The irony of what we’re currently focused on in school is painful, yet we don’t understand that unless we change our value proposition, that dystopian view of Gary’s may come to fruition.