The Education Futures timeline of education 1657 - 2045

(Last updated August 11, 2012 by John Moravec)

This timeline of the history of modern education provides not only a glimpse into the past and present, but plots out a plausible future history for human capital development. The future history presented is intended to be edgy, but also as a conversation starter on futures for education and future thinking in human capital development.

Although this timeline is largely U.S.-centric, the trends impacting it are global, especially as we look to the future. Please consult the glossary, below, for additional information regarding many of the themes presented. As always, we invite your feedback and suggestions for further development!

Would you like to learn more? Or, is there something important that you think is missing from this timeline? Write to us!



Augmented Reality: “Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable. Artificial information about the environment and the objects in it can be stored and retrieved as an information layer on top of the real world view.” (Wikipedia)

Dark Ages of Modern Education: A period, marked by a retreat of educational progressivism toward standardized testing regimes, where innovative thought, action and outcomes in the education sector was stultified. During this period, the education industry relies on external creative inputs to drive transformations, but is incapable of transforming itself or providing meaningful external outputs.

Manhattan Project: A secret project conducted by the United States (and allies) to develop the first atomic bomb. Developed at great expense, the outcomes of the project forever changed human culture society. In regard to education, this timeline calls for a Manhattan Project-like initiative to reform education, and thus transform the world.

No Child Left Behind Act: “NCLB is the latest federal legislation that enacts the theories of standards-based education reform, which is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to all students in certain grades, if those states are to receive federal funding for schools. The Act does not assert a national achievement standard; standards are set by each individual state.” (Wikipedia) A primary criticism of NCLB is that it forces schools to “teach to the test,” eliminating creativity and critical thinking development from curricula. (See also EF post “10 ways U.S. education is failing to produce creatives.”)

Progressive Education: “Educational progressivism is the belief that education must be based on the principle that humans are social animals who learn best in real-life activities with other people. Progressivists claimed to rely on the best available scientific theories of learning. Most progressive educators believe that children learn as if they were scientists […] More recently, it has been viewed as an alternative to the test-oriented instruction legislated by the No Child Left Behind educational funding act.” (Wikipedia)

Technological Singularity: “…refers to the idea that technological progress would reach such an infinite (or at least extremely high) value at a point in the (near) future. This idea is inspired by the observation of accelerating change in the development of wealth, technology, and in particular our capability for information processing. Extrapolating these capabilities to the future has led a number of thinkers to envisage the short-term emergence of a self-improving artificial intelligence or superintelligence[1] that is so much beyond our present capabilities that it becomes impossible to understand it with our present conceptions. Thus, the technological singularity can be seen as an metasystem transition or transcendence to a wholly new regime of mind, society and technology.” (Wikipedia)

Transhumanism: “…is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities. The movement regards aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as unnecessary and undesirable. Transhumanists look to biotechnologies and other emerging technologies for these purposes. […] Transhumanist thinkers predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label “posthuman.” (Wikipedia)

Turing Test: “…a proposal for a test of a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligence. It proceeds as follows: a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which tries to appear human. All participants are placed in isolated locations. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. In order to test the machine’s intelligence rather than its ability to render words into audio, the conversation is limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen.” (Wikipedia)

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