Two recent articles have been posted making predictions for education in 2015: Kindergarten Entry Tests And More Education Predictions for 2015 and Nine education predictions for 2015. What bothers me about both of these articles is that they ignore any mention of homeschooling and unschooling. Is this just a bias of mine given that I am an unschooling dad? I don't think so. Homeschooling and unschooling are have been growing for many years and are important educational trends. It would seem that anyone writing on education would recognize this and address these trends. So, here are my own education predictions for the new year which do address these important parts of education.
1. Homeschooling and Unschooling will continue to grow. The growth in homeschooling and unschooling will continue as more families recognize the benefits and see the unresolved problems in formal schooling continue unresolved.
2. Homeschooled and unschooled kids will continue to perform well on standardized exams. When they take them, that is. Most homeschooling and unschooling families do not obsess over exams but when they do take them they perform as well, or better, than their schooled peers.
3. Educational alternatives will continue to multiply and flourish. There are already many alternatives available for learning besides formal schooling. Many of these are online but there are also quite a few in person resources as well. These will continue to proliferate to keep up with the growing interest in informal, interest-led, lifelong learning.
4. The "uncollege" movement will continue to grow. Although small now compared to homecshooling for primary and secondary education, the movement to create alternatives to college will continue to grow. This should come as no surprise as the actions that have led to disengagement in public schooling are being taken in higher education as well (the overemphasis on learning outcomes and assessment for example). More and more students come to college disengaged from learning and are hungry for viable alternatives. More students will choose these alternatives.
5. Higher education will continue to deny the viability of these alternatives. Much of the change in education is coming from outside the academy and those inside are in denial. Many don't know about these disruptive changes and once told, they deny that they are real viable alternatives. This classic pattern in disruptive innovation, manifested by the music industry and others who have succumbed to disruption, will continue and slowly erode the power of higher education to lure students.
6. Employers will become more aware of alternatives to college and support them in their hiring practices. Awareness is slowly growing and many employers are already open to hiring people who can demonstrate their skills regardless of whether they have a degree or not. This trend will continue as the candidates for these jobs show that they can outperform their college educated peers in many areas.
7. Alternatives to accreditation will continue to develop. Another trend happening outside of the academy, and about which many academics are in denial, is the growth in alternatives to accreditation. There are other ways to certify learning and institutions such as Open Badges are creating these alternatives and providing the flexibility and scalability needed to appeal to the up and coming homeschooled and unschooled kids.
The beauty of making predictions like this is that almost no one bothers to check up on their accuracy after the fact. 2015 may not be the breakout year for any of the trends I've mentioned. But, the process of development and disruption that they represent will continue. They will grow as important forces in education in spite of the fact that many of them are under the radar when it comes to education reporting. That media outlets like NPR and The Wahsington Post could publish education predictions for 2015 and ignore these trends is quite interesting. But, like all disruptive innovations these will come largely as surprises to those being disrupted. Here's to a disruptive year!
KEVIN J. BROWNE
Philosopher / Educator
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