July 19, 2022

The education system will be in crisis by the end of this decade.

After interviewing educational innovators for almost five years, this is my conclusion. The system is not ready for what is coming. If you are wondering if education needs to disrupted, then I’m afraid that question is irrelevant.

It’s happening.

Crisis befalls organisations that ignore disruption.

We’ll experience more technological progress in the coming decade than we did in the preceding 100 years put together - McKinsey and Company

Education has tended to be be immune to the global disruption around it. As David Price OBE states: “...a time-traveller from the 19th century, would be bewildered by everything he witnessed, but would instantly feel comfortable in a classroom.”

The pandemic challenged us to rethink the system, but our propensity for the status quo killed off this idea from the start. As a result, we mainly used edtech to further our reach into the learners’ lives and virtually pull them back into the classroom. New York educator John Taylor Gatto knew that the classroom “fails to satisfy real needs pressing on the individual; it doesn’t answer real questions; it doesn’t contribute to solving any problem encountered in actual life.”

The classroom is a disconnected environment. So much so that the view of the surrounding world is barely visible. As Proverb 29 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”.

The disruptors are here

The system will be in crisis because there will be better alternatives.

New learning providers are using technology to develop problem-solving, collaboration and critical thinking skills in learners. Schools such as Synthesis and Sora are growing fast. Employers are starting to care more about the skills a person can prove, rather than their exam grade. When this becomes the norm, why would a parent choose the education system over a menu of educational experiences accessible from anywhere in the world?

Add the metaverse into this mix and the concept of a classroom will be ancient history.

In 10 years time the biggest industry in the world will be education and it will be a private entity… The next ‘Google’ will be an educational company. - Gerd Leonhard, Edufuturists Podcast July 2022

The system will walk blindly into crisis or it can get serious about a curriculum where learners are equipped with the skills of:

  • critical thinking

  • creativity

  • collaboration

  • communication

A curriculum where learners are empowered to be agents of their learning, so that they can unlearn and relearn throughout their lives.

Indeed, some schools working within the system are providing an alternative. XP Doncaster in the UK and Agora in the Netherlands are two examples of schools that teach vital skills and survive in the system.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. - Wayne Gretzky, Canadian ice hockey player and coach.

Can the system be ambitious and meet the future of education head on, or will it perish?