Future’s So Bright…

 

“When outstanding becomes so easily available, average is over.” – Thomas Friedman

What a great line to begin a post on looking ahead. Friedman’s comment is, not surprisingly, in reference to the “new” educational rage of MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. In his 2013 New York Times Op-Ed piece, ‘The Professor’s Big Stage”, Friedman recounts how he learned the answer to the question “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?” 

And what a question, indeed. If students can learn whenever, wherever and for FREE, are our jobs as educators doomed? Let’s look into the future…

JD Hancock via Flickr Some rights reserved
JD Hancock via Flickr Some rights reserved

2021

In five years, teachers will be in the classroom, alongside their students, functioning in relatively the same way that we function now. That is, teaching for understanding through a variety of techniques, strategies, activities and modes. Teachers will use technology, but they will also lecture and encourage students to discuss, debate and struggle to find meaning.

2026

It’s hard to say what sort of advances in technology will have come about. Will we finally get those flying cars, a la Marty McFly? Will we be closer to curing cancer? Poverty? The Wage Gap? Will teachers finally become, as many doomsdayers have said, obsolete? I don’t think so. I think, as Jahana Hayes (2016 Teacher of the Year) observes, education will have teemed up with “ industries that can afford to keep up with technology”. We will work alongside industries of technology to augment and innovate our classrooms to reflect the trappings of the “new world.”

Teaching does not look like what it did five years ago. I can take my kids on a tour of the Smithsonian from my classroom; I can Skype into another educator’s classroom.”

Jahana Hayes, 2016 Teacher of the Year

2031

I’ll be officially old. Or, with all the advancements in technology, healthcare and nutrition, I’ll be back to my youthful 20’s! A person can dream, and that is what the future is all about, after all. Dreams of what our reality can be. In the classroom, my vision is one where students are still coming together in some capacity, be it in a room with a view or in a Starbucks lounge. They are still grappling with the age-old questions of existence and purpose. They are still striving to make connections with one another. They are still struggling to find their own identity and meaning in life. And teachers? We’ll still be there, guiding them on that journey. It might be a virtual experience, but it will be personal. Of that I’m sure.

 

2 Replies to “Future’s So Bright…”

  1. Hi Mariam… so Starbucks will still exist in 2031?

    I’d like to think that we teachers will never be obsolete… but who really knows. The advancements in tech are exponentially increasing and in our lifetime education has changed dramatically and will continue to do so.

    My feeling is that while the world around us is changing quite rapidly, however, before a young person can function successfully in that world, they need a clearly understood set of life skills. That will become our focus… in fact, it is already happening… at least at the middle school level. Our primary focus is no longer the content of courses, but rather the guidance to help students learn how to learn. By providing them an opportunity to practice the skills of collaboration, critical thinking and communicating ideas with evidence, we hope to prepare them for the future of tomorrow.

    So… bottom line… we will always need real, live teachers working with real, live students to prepare them for real life. (NB: I do concede that my opinion may be biased)

    Thanks for a look into the crystal ball.
    -cp

  2. Hi Miriam,

    Love the flying lego car! Along with what you and Craig also mentioned, I’m not sold yet that the job of the teachers will be ‘doomed’. I think it will probably just change, like you’ve stated in your post. I also think it has changed a lot already. It’s just changing at a slow pace that is hard to see as we better our practice. I think that if a teacher from the 80’s or even 90’s walked into yours or Craig’s classrooms, they would be blown away at the difference. The classroom itself doesn’t look too far off, but the structure, for the most part, has changed dramatically in my opinion.

    I could probably sit here for an hour and list the changes I notice, but to summarize, I think it comes down to the movement of ‘teacher centered’ to ‘student centered’, purposeful use of technology, high amounts of collaboration and problem solving/critical thinking. All of these items have made a huge shift and this shift has involved teachers making it happen. Sure the amount of online courses is increasing, but facilitators will be necessary.

    In my opinion, if you are an educator who stays up to date with technology and best educational practices, you will be needed more than ever over the next 25 years.

    Rob D

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