Educators' cracked crystal balls

I just read a short article in Education Week, written by a fellow history teacher who argues that “educators make bad prognosticators of the future.” He continues, “There is no shame in that. Politicians, stock-market players, CEOs, and gamblers, people with a lot at stake, routinely fail in their predictive efforts. But when school ‘reformers’ try to reorder education based on ’21st-century skills,’ or what some describe as ‘teaching tomorrow’s skills to today’s students,’ they show not only lack of prescience, but also ignorance of the past.”

He proceeds to argue, quite persuasively, that reformers usually get the future wrong.

I was especially struck by his perspective because yesterday’s Education Week update featured articles about new laws in Idaho and Florida that require students to take at least one online course before they graduate from high school. I’ve taught online all summer, and I’m excited about this approach to teaching. I am NOT persuaded that online education will singlehandedly change the future of education, or that students should all be required to take online courses.

Of course, I’m not especially enthusiastic about sweeping educational mandates of any sort, even when legislators and administrators are promoting reforms that I generally support. Why not encourage diversity, experimentation, and choice instead?

Here’s the link to the article about guessing the future.

And here’s a link to articles about requiring online courses:

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