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A Look Towards the Future!

By Andrea Nelson, Director Impacting Teaching Transforming Learning (ITTL)

Happy New Year! As you and I consider our successes, failures, and challenges of the previous year, let’s also ponder in what ways we can envision and design education appropriate for the 21st century. The education system has the potential to create an enriched future through the transfer of knowledge, the training of valuable skills, and the instillation of attitudes and ethical standards. It is critical to recognize that school is not neutral. Despite the contradictions in society, schools' function and serve society. We know the past. We can prepare for that. We do not know the future. However, the children we taught in 2022 will live their adult lives from 2030 to 2070 – under very different circumstances from the ones we experience today.

The pandemic shone a spotlight on the existing inequities of race and economics. According to Paul Reville, founder, and director of the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (GSE), before the pandemic, marginalized children and families lived under challenging conditions. This made it difficult for them to get a high-quality education (Simon, 2021). Frederick M Hess’s 2022 article, Education After the Pandemic states:

Until March 2020, American schooling looked much like it had in 1920. Despite new technologies, ever-increasing outlays, and wave after wave of reform, the rhythms and routines of America’s schools were little changed. Students set out from their homes to school in the early morning, sat in front of a learning advisor in primary school or a series of learning advisors in secondary school, sporadically used the latest technologies, and then headed home. Dress codes, popular pedagogies, the number of adults in the building, and the technology may have changed, but what students and teachers do have not.

As human societies and our planet undergo rapid changes, we live in a time characterized by rapid change. In contrast to centuries ago changes now happen within a decade or even a year. Life on Earth is experiencing a change in environmental conditions. There is a rise in global temperatures, disruption of life's ecological cycles, and many species' extinction. We must have generations capable of developing human societies for the common good while protecting life on our planet both now and in the future. Advancing technologies for information and communication enable us to access new types of information, but they can also spread misinformation, slander, and confusion.