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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

The Future of Learning: A Conversation With Scholars

On a rainy afternoon in late November, a group of scholars at Del Lago Academy in California were invited to join me in a conversation about what learning might look like twenty years into the future. They were constrained only by their imagination and were encouraged to think beyond their wildest dreams. What they shared both inspired me and gave me pause as an educator. This is their story, crafted from my notes.

  • I imagine learning about the history of our world without bias. So much of what we learn is recounted inaccurately. I want the future of history to be without bias or at least let us read and create our own. We need time at school to talk and think about things.
  • School moves too fast. I imagine a future of learning similar to what I know from the Percy Jackson books. I want to construct my learning, to imagine education and learning if we could just talk. I want to be free from constraints of walls and bells and I want to learn the newest theorem by talking it out and sharing ideas. My weapon will be knowledge!
  • Imagine a world of quantum weirdness. Imagine fresh new ideas--everyone talking and a world where our teachers don’t underestimate our abilities.
  • I’d love to have holograms interact with us--just thinking about having someone’s image appear and no longer being limited by time or space. Can we do that? Interaction is needed and necessary. I take online courses, but I need to surround myself with people. I want my children to have interactions with others. People need different levels--not mandatory interaction, not forced grouping, but maybe casual conversation-- trust us to talk. Challenge us more. Let us come up with our own discussions. Like in Ancient Greece, people talked, and it was out of the box and intellectuals were born.
  • I imagine learning without walls to divide us. I think about a world without labels and a world where we are no longer afraid to talk or offend someone or mess something up. We live in a world with too many labels. Learning should be a place to be open-minded and be more aware. Mental health issues would be lessened if people were more open-minded. This school gave me the courage to come out. To be myself.
  • Classrooms like restaurants. Quit giving information to kids and let us decide – like a menu. I think it’s so hard to imagine school another way. It’s the same all the time. We need space to challenge each other’s’ ideas. I love our cohort model; we get to know each other. The future schools should be a place to build trust and understanding and get to know each other. We’ve got it. Trust us.
  • Learning should be provocative and inspire thought. There should be flexible start times and flexible building spaces. There should be open choice and more freedom and interest in classes. There should be multiple subjects and exposure to big ideas. Listen to us, let us share our interests. It’s hard to pick a major right now when we haven’t been exposed to enough big ideas. Let us explore and talk more.
  • Let’s create a culture that values academic discussion on anything we want. The college application process is overwhelming, and I would love to have more options. Perhaps twenty years from now college won’t even be the same. After all, it isn’t the be-all-end-all. There shouldn’t be lectures. We need to be part of a group to figure out problems. There shouldn’t be busy work. Our time should be spent solving problems.
  • I see technology. I want to go back to the hologram idea. I would love to see a future with simulators, and we could have people come in--like World World II veterans or someone from the past--and their hologram could interact with us and get here instantly. Simulators that could interact and give us a personal perspective with deeper insight and knowledge. Yes!
  • Our world is resource impoverished. We need to be more self-sustained. We need to eat healthier. Its money verses food. I would love to be more efficient. Could we have a world where glasses or hearing aids or basic needs would just be seamless?
  • It is so easy to cheat. Standardized tests are not fair, and they are not an indicator of what we know. They are not accurate, and they create an unnecessary barrier. They only measure how well you test and process information. They defeat the purpose of learning. Perhaps in college all this will change. Maybe learning will be slower and less traditional. It’s too traditional and teachers are unwilling to change.
  • Let us make our own classes and have free thought. What about K-Pop courses or a course on Harry Potter or something we’re passionate about? We could choose our path. In the future it should only be about learning, not preparing for a specific future, but about learning, just learning, not for the test. I would be excited to go. It would be fun. New learning. Like being an apprentice. We could learn from each other and be a resource to each other – but focus on passion.

And that was it. They looked at each other and smiled. And they thanked me for listening and said they’d love to do this again with a big group and talk about the school, and their learning, and their hopes and dreams.


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