Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Contemplating the Future of Education: Week 1 #edfuture

I am participating in the Open Course in Education Futures facilitated by George Siemens and Dave Cormier.  I'm excited about this course for two primary reasons.  First, I like the concept of a structured approach to contemplating the future of education.  Second, I'm fascinated by the format of the course.  Having also participated and enjoyed #CCK08, this is another opportunity to learn from numerous brilliant people and get some ideas for an open course I will be offering next spring.

I recently returned to John Dewey's (1913) Interest and Effort in Education looking for a quote.  Instead, I ended up with the following quotes from the Editor's Introduction leaving a strange sinking feeling in my gut.
It's active acceptance by teachers would bring about a complete transformation of classroom methods (p. v).

Somehow our teaching has not attracted children to the school and its work (p. vi). 

Good teaching and the teaching of the future, will make school life vital to youth (p. vii).

At the present hour, we are very deeply concerned with the universal education of youth (p. viii)
The final solution is to be found in a better quality of teaching, one which will absorb children because it gives purpose and spirit to learning (p. x).
Is it just me or do these 100 year-old quotes sound hauntingly familiar?  If the teaching of the future is going to make school life vital to youth, how far in the future do we have to go?  Suddenly David Wiley's Parody doesn't seem so far fetched.

So, I'm beginning my journey into education futures by looking back at the past.  I believe this is important if we really hope to facilitate change.  Most of us like to think that the benefits of technology will help transform education, but we absolutely cannot assume that a trend in the consumer, media, or business world will necessarily translate to a trend in the education world.  That is why the structure of future thinking is so important to our field.  We have to be able to approach our administrators, districts, and policy makers with visions of the future supported by research and thoughtful consideration of trends.  IAF's Guide for Thinking about the Future suggests we set achievable goals to be reached within a reasonable amount of time based on articulation of a vision of the future we want to create.  Somehow I'm not as worried about the vision, mission, goals, and strategies as I am about the implementation.  I wonder if Dewey had those same thoughts 100 years ago?