The Future is Learning, But What About Schooling?

The author, Richard F. Elmore, is Gregory Anrig Research Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

"I had to learn how read and write basically from scratch; the work that had produced success in high school was hopelessly inadequate."

"The future of learning in society is virtually unlimited, at least for the foreseeable future."

"We are continuing to invest massively in hard-boundary physical structures in an age where learning is moving into mobile, flexible, and networked relationships. In other words, it would be hard to imagine an institutional structure for learning that is less suited for the future than the heavily institutionalized, hierarchical world that education reformers have constructed."

"Schools, as we currently know them, will continue to exist, if only because the byzantine collection of political interests that underlie them will keep them afloat regardless of their contribution to learning. The Postal Service continues to exist, as the function of moving information fluidly and efficiently in society has migrated out into other organizational forms."

"To engage the next generation of young leaders in the important task of building society’s capacity to learn in the service of innovation and creativity, we will need to provide them with a broader array of opportunities to lead in settings where they can exercise meaningful judgment and control, without having to wait in line for a career path that may take decades to acknowledge their energy and creativity."

"I now see in my own biography as a learner how I have come to this place. I was trained, as a student, to value schooling primarily as a vehicle for gaining adult approval and control. I learned that lesson well. I also learned it in an environment that prepared me not at all for a life of learning."

"The survival of society requires that learning be unconstrained by the institutional interests and conventions of schooling."