What are the hottest trends in education? And how do we address them?

My job is to watch trends, and so when I had the chance to meet with other Executive Directors this week in Fort Worth, and the conversation inevitably turned to the changing landscape, I was in my element.

Here are the three trends (with a shout out to my mentors, who advise three bullets, and three bullets only):

What should children learn?

  • How can schools best develop character? We know from our Parent Motivation survey that development of character, morals and values is today’s parents’ priority. I follow NYT’s journalist David Brooks and recommend his most recent book, The Road to Character.
  • How can schools best develop entrepreneurs? This article on raising kids to be billionaires is actually not all evil and manages well the dilemma of focusing on opportunity and money and yet also generosity and values.

How should children learn?

  • How will blended learning change our schools? While some are arguing that this is not a trend (See a recent article here), others are arguing that this is the disruptive innovation on our industry.
  • What does personalized learning, the trend that everyone agrees is the number one trend, actually look like? Bob Snowden has done a great job exploring this question in a series in his blog.

There may be others, but for now, I would say that these are the hottest trends in learning. I believe we always need to pay attention to trends, and the latest figures on the decline of school age children in Canada is a real wake-up call that we need to sharpen the saw. (The forecasted total decrease in School Aged Children from 2010 – 2025 is 771,287, which is a 20.7% total decrease).

What can our CAIS schools learn from other schools?

  • What can we learn from for-profit schools? Here is one example of a for-profit school expanding its international clientele.
  • What is going on in Asia and what will be the impact on our CAIS independent schools? CAIS wrote an Asian Trends Report last year, and we continue to follow activity.
  • How can we learn from start-ups? This week, Elon Musk announced that he will start a school. With all due respect, what does he know about education, and why are parents willing to trust a school with no history? But with all due respect, what can our traditional and successful schools learn from this parent, who was obviously dissatisfied with the local public and private options?

The second question – how do we address these trends – is more of a challenge. It requires research – such as our 2051 Project – that captures the complexity of the trends, or as we call it, the “dual challenge”. But more importantly, it requires the best minds working collaboratively.

This week, I am meeting with the leaders of our CAIS National Networks. Those of you who know me know I am super cheap. So you may be surprised to know that CAIS is actually paying for everyone to travel to meet in person. But I firmly believe that the future strength and permanence of our schools will require much more collaboration. It will require time, in meetings and in less formal situations, to learn and debate and problem-solve. Our new national conference model is based on this same philosophy of diverse thinkers engaging in catalytic conversations about the future of education. I know I will be in my element again when that happens, so I can’t wait to get started.

5 thoughts on “What are the hottest trends in education? And how do we address them?

  1. Personally, your point of building more collaboration across all our schools is perhaps the most relevant for me personally. If we can continue to support you, and the CAIS initiatives in building a living learning organization, these partnerships will only strengthen all of our schools.

    • Thanks Helen,

      Personally (couldn’t resist!) I think the new PD strategy is modelling the kind of leadership we all need – I just hope others are willing to come along!

      • I would absolutely agree. Perhaps as an organization we can support schools to come up with creative solutions for coverage if this makes it difficult for people to attend. This may be another opportunity where we could support each other to collaborate and share ideas around innovative solutions to dilemmas that some schools may be faced with.

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