Search form

The Future of Education

future of education

When I first started teaching in 2000, smartphones were not part of daily life, nor was texting a popular mode of communication. School computers were only accessible in teacher workspaces or in labs. In general, life was a lot simpler. People talked to one another more, news didn’t seem to occur at quite the frenetic pace it does now, and we all spent more time being active. 20 years or so might not feel like a long time for many adults, but in certain ways, even a relatively short time span can be monumentally eventful. In another 10 to 20 years, what will schools look like? Predicting the future is impossible, even in stable times. However, there are a few safe bets we can make about the future of education.

  1. Virtual or remote learning will remain in some capacity. Like it or not, 2020 changed the options available to students and teachers forever. There are so many reasons to hold onto virtual options: inclement weather, student illness, and individualized learning needs, to name just a few. As technology experts design increasingly better products, more avenues for remote learning will open up that go far beyond what current online meeting platforms are capable of. Education will be at the forefront of these changes as teachers and students find effective ways to connect beyond a physical classroom space.

  2. Students and teachers will become even more reliant on technology. If tablets and laptops are pervasive now (particularly in affluent school districts), they will be completely unavoidable soon enough everywhere. Devices will replace traditional classroom materials, assessments will shift entirely to digital platforms, and teachers will closely monitor student activity on dashboard-type tools that allow them to track progress constantly. Some of these pieces are already in classrooms, but they will soon be ubiquitous, and they will also work better than they do now.

  3. In-person learning will still hold a vital role in student progress. As much as schools can do with technology now and into the future, in-person learning will still be the gold standard to produce ideal results for student achievement. Very little can replace human interaction, and while the rest of the world moves to remote work settings, schools will not follow that example to anywhere near the same degree. Teachers and students will still interact in the same room together, laugh at one another’s jokes, and support each other through challenges. Will there be other options available? Absolutely. But generally speaking, most school buildings will remain open for business.

  4. School buildings will look increasingly different. As learning needs shift, schools will not have the same kind of interior elements. Classrooms may open up more to become collaborative workspaces that house resources for a variety of content areas. Air filtration may be overhauled to prevent the easy spread of airborne illness. When students gather for lunch or recess, they may have access to areas that are built to charge devices, stations that allow them to interact with students who are not on site, or be given the opportunity to participate in activities that are taking place at a distance.

  5. Flexibility and agility will be necessary as part of constant adaptation. As exhausted as teachers are from a two-year pivot, the education sector will continue to change as teachers and students begin a long recovery process. Both academic and social-emotional needs will be more pressing in the next five years at least, and more resources will need to be specifically allocated to areas like school counseling and special education.

  6. Course content will change. As the political and social environment continues to change, so will course content in schools. That may manifest both productively and harmfully with increased censorship, a greater emphasis on social justice, or new learning around global realities such as climate change. Whatever these shifts may be, they will be indicative of the instability that has marked the early part of this century.

  7. Teachers will leave…and then come back. Since 2020, teachers have been retiring or resigning in large numbers, though the teacher shortage has been evident for much longer than that. Job satisfaction is at a significant low for educators in PreK-12, and that will continue to be the case for several years. At some point, the pendulum will swing back toward more favorable conditions. When that happens, a new group of teachers will enter the profession and become dedicated to making a positive impact.

All the predictions above are simply guesses, but they are based on trends and patterns that are already visible. Much of what was inevitable in this profession has been accelerated in the wake of a pandemic, and we are all left wondering what schools will look like in 20 years. Specifics aside, we know this: the changes will be dramatic. Just as nobody could have foreseen what schools would look like now in the year 2000, we have only a certain degree of insight into the future. However, the important priorities will remain the same – as always, teachers will seek to serve student learning in safe, supportive environments that inspire generations to come.

Written by Miriam Plotinsky, Education World Contributing Writer

Miriam Plotinsky is an instructional specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where she has taught and led for more than 20 years. She is the author of Teach More, Hover Less and is also a National Board-Certified Teacher with additional certification in administration and supervision. She can be reached at or via Twitter: @MirPloMCPS.

Copyright© 2022 Education World