Famous futurist quote: “The future is already here, it is just not equally distributed.” (William Gibson)
In other words, hints of any plausible future already exist somewhere in the world around us.
- A future in which no one has to own, or drive a car (because cars drive themselves)? Check out Nevada (a state always willing to take a gamble).
- A future in which most historic monuments are leased to private businesses for commercial use, because governments can’t sustain them? Already happening in Albania.
- A future in which the major form of entertainment is holodecks, a la Star Trek? South Korea is getting awfully close to a prototype.
So, what about the future of education? Where can we catch a glimpse of that?
I’ve written here on the blog about why many forecasters think America is on the cusp of a new educational era and you can read more about it CFM’s recently released TrendsWatch 2012. Some think this next educational era will be built on self-directed, passion-based learning, with learners drawing on a multitude of resources, including museums, to build their curricula.
If Gibson is right, hints of that next era of learning should exist here and now, so I went on a scavenger hunt with Scott Kratz, VP for education at the National Building Museum, to track these hints down.
And here they are: compiled in Museums and the Future of Education*, a survey of educational innovation in museums across the nation. Read it and be proud of our field! I’m tickled to see how museums channel harness their assets in the service of learning—whether it is the National Building Museum teaching with bridges, the Exploratorium with cow eyeballs, and the Tech Museum of Innovation with (of course) a virtual avatar.
This paper documents numerous examples of museums using their unique assets to teach critical thinking, synthesis of information, innovation, creativity and collaboration. These core skills are widely regarded as crucial to success in the 21st century workplace.
I am painfully aware that this compilation was out of date the moment it was published. (For example, it doesn’t feature the “first preschool at an American art Museum” at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.) Help us keep it up to date by using the comment section below to contribute links to the latest, best and most innovative educational projects you know of in museums.
As noted in the paper, I’m particularly interested in projects that have tackled the challenge of scaling up museum educational experiences to serve large numbers of learners—a challenge we have to solve if museums are to play a vital (read: necessary, not just nice) role in American education.
And if you want an actual peek at that school day of the future? Check out this video from Learning 2025: Forging Pathways to the Future.
What do you think, can you see your museum’s education staff serving as “learning agents” in this future?
*Museums and the Future of Education first appeared in On the Horizon Volume 19, number 3: Education and the new normal. It appears on the CFM website by permission of Emerald Group Publishing.