By 2020, I cannot see in my vision our school buildings used in the same manner they are today: 180 days a year open only for students. I read Larry Cubanís post this morning about his end of year prediction of classrooms in the future. Itís almost 2010 and there has to be more than thinking about what we have today and relating it to ten years from now.
Hereís what I hope to see: schools and public libraries as community learning centers available to all learners open 24/7 supplemented with online courses, professional development, coaching, networking, and publishing. There is even a Federal program and grant for community learning centers.
These community learning centers can be the home-base for learners similar to independent study. Starting as toddlers, parents can sign up with their children for parent classes forming relationships with other parents. Parents are encouraged to be life-long learners and a large piece of the solution for their children. Students start portfolios early collecting evidence of their learning via digital content. Parents form a team with a learning coach, teacher, doctor, and others interested in their children. Teachers play multiple roles: coach, mentor, facilitator. They no longer have to be the all knowing expert. They are more of a guide and adviser along with counselors, medical personnel, and digital guides. Bring in more community partners to work with students. Involve mentoring and community service as a requirement for graduation. Provide mutiple pathways for secondary students so they can find or reach their full potential and be marketable.
Learning starts at birth and never stops.
Our students will need new skills and knowledge that we are not even aware of now. We cannot continue to teach subjects in isolation or how we are teaching them today if we want our children to be leaders and 21st century ciitizens. Skills that will be important include creativity, innovation, leadership, critical-thinking, and finding their own passion. Todayís K-12 schools do not focus on these skills. In fact, they strip our children of creativity and thinking on their own starting in Kindergarten.
We need to reinvent schools: what learning means and how teaching supports learning. How about each student starting with an individual education plan that follows them throughout their entire life? I hope that the arts are more integrated and important. I hope that students work on project-based activities around real world problems. I hope we bring back play and show that learning can be fun since they will want to be lifelong learners.
I believe our students will lead the way with technology. They use cell phones for their communication. Just look at them texting. iPhones and Droid phones are commonplace now. Just imagine what apps and devices will be available in a year. 10 years. I canít even imagine what cars will look like and what software will be embedded in appliances in just a few years. Access to the internet and free wifi will be everywhere. Students will be participating in virtual worlds to share digital content and collaborate for school and for fun. Today we have online games, Twitter, texting, Second Life and Facebook. What kind of online collaboration will they be involved in just a few years?
Why donít we ask our students what they see in their future?