Education in 2020

So I decided to look through old files this weekend and I came across a file in my Masters of Education folder titled “Education in 2020.” Instantly- I laughed out loud. Remember doing a 5-10-15-20 year write in elementary school? Yeah, similar to that. This assignment was imagining what education would be like in the year 2020. This feels a little Back to the Future….

In 2010, this was my outlook for technology integration in education:

The advancement of technology has a significant influence and role in day-to-day life. You seek technology to communicate, organize and produce. Because of this, education is largely organized around the computer. With computers, instruction and curriculum is tailored to individual needs, learning style, and mastery. A computer program is able to assess prior knowledge and build experience and knowledge individualistically. The computer allows access to instant communication with anyone around the world. A teleconference in the classroom provides a priceless learning opportunity. Essentially, they can travel without having to get on a plane. This alone provides unique opportunities for all.

Mind blowing right?! Ok, maybe just for me. By no means a premonition, BUT- wow. Who would have thought the universe would make this a reality?

Now, this is a little more frightening. As a teacher, we feel threatened by this right now. Technology advances are impacting our potential for genuine connection. It’s also impacting our craft as an educator. Being in the classroom before 2020, we were integrating technology to enrich our learning experiences, not replace our instructional practices. Here’s another snippet from my 2010 prediction of the impact of technology:

Technological advances have allowed all the information to be at our fingertips immediately.  When students are learning faster because information is provided faster and applicability is more immediate, it has begun to cast a shadow on education. The role of the teacher in education is beginning to change because of this. A teacher is often represented through a computer. The knowledge the teacher has doesn’t seem to be as important as how much the computer has to offer.”

Yikes. Re-reading that is challenging. Yet unfortunately some of this is has become a reality that educators are working through. It is hard to recognize how technology has interrupted our relationships at the same time as it’s providing more widespread interactions.

Now for some hope. I wrote this paper when Barack Obama was first elected president. It fascinates me on how I projected his impact on cultural development and how it would benefit our educational system.

“Perception of race and ethnicity has drastically changed throughout this decade. This is due to our former president, Barack Obama, being African American. This breakthrough has allowed for curiosity and respect across the races. In previous years, educators had to be more careful of saying something that could be misinterpreted by a student. It has been honorable to watch how race and ethnicity has become valued rather than avoided. This perception change has been largely due to recent political trends.”

And here is a proud proclamation that I absolutely think we should lean into and believe moreso today!

Our future IS in the hands of our youth, and that is where we are beginning to invest our time and money.” With the buildup of powerful corporations and the focus on consumption, commercialism and consumerism, it is essential to focus on the education of future contributors to our society.

And here’s another projection that uncomfortably has been unfolding. Considering the “social dilemna” of media use and advertising, check this out:

“One can envision a dystopian society where individuals become manipulated by unseen advertisers and where group conflicts are exaggerated. Unlimited options are being constrained by the owners of media where privacy and personal space are violated. This is because of the pursuit of individualism more so than developing a collectivist society.”

Now comes a recognition of ‘being a teacher’ in itself. An educator’s job is ever-changing and always growing. Yet to be attuned to the new jobs that develop over time makes the job even more complex. Thus another reason I am grateful that teachers’ salaries have become valued and respected. Maybe looking back to my projection makes me appreciate the salary advancement moreso.

“The rapid rate of knowledge growth is also causing new disciplines as well as new jobs to be available. This puts an immediate pressure on the educational system. We have the demand to now develop competent workers in new and growing fields. This has produced the need for hiring competent instructors to train individuals to advance into these newly developed fields. Because of this demand, it has caused teacher salaries to drastically increase. A field worker could make much more money doing their trade rather than teaching his trade. In order to recruit these highly trained field workers to become educators, incentives were necessary.”

Furthermore, I am incredibly proud (silent high-five-to-self was given here) of my foundational perspective of multicultural education. I’m going to let my paper speak here.

A classroom is shaped by the diversity in the learning environment. This means an educator must be “in the know,” meaning they must seek to understand the cultures that make up their classroom.

Multiculturalism remains to be a drive that shapes education and is still remaking the dimensions of what constitutes a learning environment. An educator no longer plays the role of the “American-izer” but more-so as the “knowledge developer.” The only difference between the two is what lens the teacher is wearing when instructing. An educator must seek to adapt and grow in the classroom environment and they must model this same need to their students by expecting the same. In order for educators to “keep their lens prescription up to date” they are now required to engage in cultural training on an ongoing basis. This knowledge base allows for teachers to understand their students and the outside demands at a much better level. It is now an expectation for teachers to remain intentional and culturally responsive in their instruction.

Now, I’m going to simply copy and paste here. This whole section of my paper is worth reading. Check it out. (Remember this was written in 2010)

How These Forces Have Remade Schools in 2020:

The three direct facets of education have been drastically affected by the above moving forces. With highly advanced technology, more single families, higher cost of living, changing political roles and growing diversity, education was bound to change, or develop for students, schools, and teachers, thus a whole community.

If I were to be a student again in the public school system, my school day would not only be much different, but also the type of demands placed on me by my teachers and parents, and by society. I remember being in high school and doing inquiry projects and being able to participate in two sports at a time. I also remember being able to develop trust in my teachers. Nowadays, it is more difficult to develop relationships with your educators because many things are now computerized. A student may be able to get more immediate results because the computer gives automatic feedback rather than waiting to get your test back from your teacher. This immediate feedback may be worthwhile, but it isn’t as project oriented. Also, everything is full of tests. I would be tested on an ongoing basis, formal to informal. I am a terrible test taker so I know I would fail in today’s education system.

As a teacher, my job would have a different description. I think I would bring more work home, have to do more planning, and my summers would be lost. With a lot of information available, it also means more instructional strategies to use. I would have a difficult time honing down to one method of instruction or classroom management. I would definitely have to remain ‘in the know’ in order to appropriately adapt to the growing needs of a classroom. I have always enjoyed being a teacher, but the demands placed on educators to be adaptable, flexible, knowledgeable, well-trained and technological, leads me to believe that I couldn’t get another job because I would be ‘out-interviewed.’

Being an administrator in a school would also be considered a research position. A guaranteed and viable curriculum would have to be in place with challenging goals. I would need to provide prompt and effective feedback to the workers in my building. I would also need to encourage parent and community involvement in my school despite the dimensions of the community I live in. By doing this, it would ensure a safe and orderly environment. From the growing trends in 2020, it has been essential that I hire highly-qualified educators. Without them, another failure component exists. There is a heightened demand of professionalism in the institute of school. Thus, opportunities must be readily available for ongoing professional growth. Essentially, that is why our new Instructional Facilitator and Learning Coach positions exist.

person on a bridge near a lake
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

In conclusion, I wonder what the next ten years’ll bring? Do you? And what are we responsible for in creating the changes we want to see? In education? In society? In leadership? I believe the universe is listening and we can wholeheartedly be a part of how our future evolves. It’s humbling to see that in the short span of ten years there has been incremental growth, while also problems unsolved. Will it take another decade to make the incremental growth needed for resolution? Nonetheless, lets make 2030 the year to look back and be proud of the innovation made during that decade. I believe we can contribute to this great change with the choices we make everyday. May your choice of energy investment today bring you growth and enrichment.


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