NSBA’s Leadership Conference 2010 kicked off with a glimpse into how accurate one influential book’s look into the future and its forecast that a seismic shift in how people live, work, and learn in the 21st century were playing out.
“Even though they wrote this at the beginning of the 21st century, look at how on target they were,” says Katheryn Gemberling, an education consultant who presented the morning’s first session, basing it on the popular book, “Nine Shift,” by husband and wife co-authors, Julie Coates and William Draves.
In the book, the pair contend that some 75 percent of life as we know it would change between 2000 and 2020, mimicking a similar dramatic shift that occurred at the dawn of the 20th century, when the electric car replaced the horse-drawn buggy, and factories and industrial plants gained traction over working in the fields.
Whereas the automobile revolutionized the 20th century, the Internet has proved to have the biggest impact in the 21st century, says Gemberling, who serves as the project director for NSBA’s Gates Foundation grant to train school boards on using data to drive decisions, developing teaching effectiveness, and making sure all students are ready for college.
A decade into the 21st century and midway through the predictions they made in their book, Coates and Draves seem nearly clairvoyant.
Teleworking, once a rare practice, is becoming company protocol, reducing commuting time, cutting down on turnover, and allowing businesses to keep the best and brightest workers. Mixed-use neighborhoods and downtown revitalizations are becoming popular, with retail, schools, and transportation hubs clustered within walking distance of each other. And in schools, education becomes more Web-based, self-discipline replaces supervision, and collaboration is considered productive.
“This is going to kill most educators,” Gemberling says, half-jokingly. “The idea that you need to be alone to work is outdated.”
So is the idea that learning has to occur in a building. In the future, half of all learning will occur online, a format that supports students learning at their own pace, during their peak time.
“So what about the other half of learning, which will be face to face?” Gemberling asks rhetorically. “It can’t be done the same.”
Educators must help students put cognitive learning into context, advise them on which ways they learn best, and help students learn how to learn.
“In other words, schools will need to combine the high-tech with the high touch.”
Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor