Education trends: To 2021 and beyond

Written by Christine Cooke

November 20, 2020

Year 2020 disrupted many things, including education. What is the future of education in 2021 and beyond?

One expert believes it will include parents taking greater control of their child’s education, a need for active and vocal support of American values, and better history and civics education.

This week Ian Rowe, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, spoke about some of today’s most timely education issues at a Sutherland Institute event.

Here are three important takeaways from his remarks.

Rowe discussed how COVID-19 has fundamentally changed education – specifically by bringing parents more directly into their children’s education. The result has been more educational options and new configurations for learning, which we will see for the foreseeable future.

I think the landscape has fundamentally changed, and really, I don’t think any of us know exactly what all of the lessons are that are going to survive. But a few things are clear. One is, more parents have now gained greater visibility into what their kids are actually learning all day. And frankly, they’re not always excited by what they’ve seen. So this movement to what are called pandemic pods, more parents taking more greater control over their kids’ education, I think that is going to survive. I think there’s going to be an increased amount of home schooling or micro-schooling, where you have smaller learning environments.

When asked why Americans are so tempted to delegitimize principles and ideas of success – including the “success sequence” that says if you finish school, get a job and have kids after marriage that your chances for poverty are stunningly low – Rowe said that he doesn’t actually believe most Americans are ready to do away with them.

I think most Americans want to know what can they do in their own life to be successful, for their own family. And I think that’s why this country has continued to thrive for centuries, and I think the challenge now for many people is to have the moral courage to stand up and say these things out loud. To say that things like families do matter. That faith matters. That hard work matters. That personal responsibility matters. Now is the time for people who believe in that to actually have the courage to say it out loud, because otherwise, there is a countervailing force that’s trying to extinguish these ideas. And America is not guaranteed. We all have to stand up for these values, otherwise they won’t be there.

When it comes to civics and history education, Rowe explained the importance of students being taught a complete American history – that it can include the bad but it must also include the good and the progress made over time.

Sometimes we forget that school has more objectives than just, you know, ELA and math test scores. We’re hoping to develop resilient, self-sufficient citizens, who have an understanding of their country’s history, who are empathetic, and who understand how to do things like delay gratification, have, exercise self-control. With rights come responsibilities. We need a populace that understands that. So, schools should be telling a complete story, warts and all, of the United States. You cannot hide from the fact that America did have slavery, and that there were people who were considered less than human. But on the long march towards freedom, America’s story is exceptional, certainly relative to every other country on the planet.

See below to watch the full event.

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