This may seem like a silly question. “Of course, education matters,” you say to yourself, and most people would agree.
Yet, Gallup polls from 2017 indicate that only 9% of the population in the United States is completely satisfied with the quality of education students receive between kindergarten and 12th grade. 20% of respondents are completely dissatisfied with the quality of education. We all agree education matters, but by and large, we are not happy with the options we are presenting to the next generation and we are not doing much to change or challenge the existing educational models.
How can we help high school graduates have the skills they need to face the challenges and opportunities of the next twenty, thirty, sixty years?
In this resource, we’ll explore the future of education and the forward-thinking education models that are needed to prepare students to be passionate, thoughtful, effective leaders in the decades to come.
When we stop to look at the incredible pace of technological growth over the last twenty years, it becomes obvious that the world has changed. We are experiencing a exciting period of innovation and disruption, culturally and economically. The full range of human activity--how we form relationships, how we find job opportunities, how we conduct research, how we navigate physical spaces, and many more--have all been shaped by the powerful technology around us, most often, in our hands, in the form of a smartphone.
The last time the world experienced a change on this scale was during the industrial period in the 1800s. At that time, education changed dramatically in response to industrialization. Small school houses became large factory-esque buildings that churned out children who were prepared for the assembly line. Learning became something that was done by rote, in age-segregated classrooms, with tight lines of desks.
Now, in this time of entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity, our education system is stuck in the industrial era, preparing children for a world that no longer exists.
One element of the education system is changing: the way colleges review and accept qualified students. The growing mismatch between the education system at the high school level and the skills and traits that make people successful in the 21st century is forcing colleges to move away from reliance on test scores and grades.
The college application process can be challenging to navigate for parents and students. It’s important to understand that colleges are now looking at applicants through a more nuanced lense, and that this shift has implications for the educational choices you make at the high school level.
Based on data from the The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, more than 1000 accredited colleges and universities are no longer requiring students to provide ACT or SAT scores as part of their applications. Many of these colleges are nationally ranked schools with strong reputations, like the University of Chicago, Brandeis University, Wake Forest University, Bowdoin College, and New York University, among many others. Test optional colleges have decided that scores on standardized tests do not provide an accurate representation of a student’s likelihood to succeed in higher education. Many schools have also recognized that standardized tests like the ACT and SAT can leave minority and low-income students at a disadvantage.
This movement away from standardized testing as the entry point to higher education highlights the growing effort to re-define student potential in broader terms. This effort is continuing beyond the application process and into the years of college as well. Stanford University is pioneering an initiative known as Stanford2025, and as part of a total re-invention of their traditional four year path, they are encouraging and allowing students to declare missions, not majors. Thinking about learning in terms of mission encourages students to direct their own learning and to unite disciplines to their passion instead of passively allowing set requirements for a major to direct their four years of study.
A 2017 survey of university admissions officers commissioned by ACS International Schools found that admissions professionals are focusing their attention on these 7 qualities or skills:
Moving away from the industrial model of education and embracing a forward-thinking approach allows the high school years of your teenager’s life to become more purposeful and meaningful. It’s all too easy to think of graduating from high school as simply a box to be checked before your child can move on to college and career.
For both parents and students, thinking consciously about education and its impact on later life and career ought to begin during high school.
According to the World Economic Forum, by 2020, “more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.”
Given the limited shelf life of any hard skill, the high schools of today and the schools of the future need to shift their focus to the universal skills that can be learned and that contribute significantly to long-term success:
Tanya Staples, VP at LinkedIn Learning Solutions, was recently asked by HR Dive how groups ought to prioritize soft skills in future learning initiatives. Staples suggested “learning pathways, or groups of courses, that build upon each other so that at time of completion, employees have a well-roundedness about their soft skills abilities and have gained an appreciation for continuous learning.”
Even if your student is scoring well on standardized tests and getting good grades in a traditional school setting, it’s important to ask yourself if the school is encouraging the development of these soft skills.
Visits to Blyth-Templeton Academy allow you to experience the following:
National conversations around the topic of education can get heated. Journalists, politicians, and citizens debate important questions about funding, testing, and school discipline. But in the meantime, these debates lose sight of the student in order to talk about the system.
How can we translate what we know about innovation and forward-thinking to the education sector?
Personalization. Think about what you see when you open up your Netflix. Rows and rows of customized viewing options, informed by your behaviour and designed to help you figure out what you’d like to watch next. Now imagine personalization in the context of education. Here, it means things like working closely with teachers who know you well, working on projects at your own pace or with groups, and customizing block scheduling so that you can study full-time, part-time, or online while pursuing hobbies or jobs.
Experiential. While experiential learning has become a bit of an education buzzword, it’s a simple concept that explains how any human being derives knowledge from a concrete experience and integrates the new information with the rest of their knowledge. An experiential approach to learning is crucially important because knowledge that students find on their own is more likely to stick with them and the process teaches them agency and curiosity. This kind of learning takes place in four stages:
1. Concrete Experience
2. Reflective Observation
3. Abstract Conceptualization
4. Active Experimentation
Note: For a full explanation of the experiential learning process, check out our blog post: What Is Experiential Learning and How Does It Work?
A recent survey report from the Center for Education Excellence indicates that an overwhelming majority of high school students--83 to 95 percent--report having an intrinsic desire to learn and to work hard in school. However, as their parents know all too well, many students end up bored, discouraged, or coasting through high school.
Ultimately, the whole point of building schools of the future is to encourage the success of individual students. Quality education draws students out of themselves, out of ignorance, and engages them in a larger world where they can succeed and fail, learn their strengths and weaknesses.
There are two primary ways that we observe the impact of personalized learning on our students:
Experiential, personalized education can have a tremendous impact on students beyond career preparation and academic rigor. This kind of learning helps the adolescent brain to mature and to develop the sense of identity and purpose that makes people effective communicators and leaders.
Here at Blyth-Templeton, we have asked ourselves the tough questions: What is the ultimate goal of education? What type of environment is most conducive to deep learning? How can a high school education prepare a student for life? How can it be more accessible?
We’ve created a model that attempts to address these questions and to help students answer these questions for themselves. Blyth-Templeton Academy is an experiential micro school located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. with another location opening in Nashville, Tennessee in the Fall of 2019. BTA offers an academically rigorous 9-12th-grade high school curriculum designed to foster intellectual curiosity through active learning and community exploration. The small class sizes ensure that each student has a front row seat in classes with an average size of eight. Our model combines a warm, inviting atmosphere with great teaching that allows our students to flourish. The use of Washington, D.C., Nashville, and all of the extraordinary resources available is not only the best approach for learning but also allows our tuition to be more affordable: tuition and fees at Blyth-Templeton sit at just $15,550 for a full four term year.
We hope that this resource has been helpful as you consider the future of education generally and the education options available to you, your children, or others in your community, specifically.
At Blyth-Templeton, we are passionate about the educational model we are building and always eager to share more about why and how we discovered the need for a school of the future.
Connect with us today to stay in touch and learn more!