‘What if compulsory schooling was a 21st century invention’? Developing a socially just world through a foresight approach

Year: 2019

Author: McGrath, Jason, Fischetti, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper presentation we discuss findings from our research that have led to development of a set of scenarios and a framework to reframe future schooling models. We used counterfactual thinking and foresight strategy to examine the overarching research question, “What if compulsory schooling was invented in the 21st century”? Whilst future methodologies do not seek to predict the future they allow us to “use the future” in a way that can impact on the decisions we make in the present, including about education for a socially just world. Our findings explore the impact of current and alternative pedagogies and assessment practices on equity groups, the potential to utilise indigenous ways of knowing to respond to a changing world, and the need to challenge aspects of schooling’s history that marginalise groups. We conducted systematic reviews of empirical studies comparing traditional and alternative approaches to instruction or assessment to examine potential for compulsory schooling to be redesigned, including unpacking evidence about benefits for equity groups. Sixteen “weak signals” were identified that takes the pulse of the literature from the beginning of the 21st century and might inform further research into current and future school design. We also share findings from a modified Delphi process, utilising advice from a panel of educational thought leaders including academics, practitioners and policy makers with a heterogeneous range of expertise. The panel identified the most important ways that compulsory schooling (a) could be different if it was invented in the 21st century and (b) what aspects they value about schooling now or in the past that might be lost if it were a 21st century invention. Participant designed scenarios have been distilled to five scenarios about future schooling. Twenty-nine focus elements have also distilled from panel consensus statements in order to develop a framework organised across three pillars of pedagogy, policy and structure. This systematic review of the literature provided insights about the role of teacher [https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/teachers] and learner, as well as assessment practices, to improve classroom practice [https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/classroom-practice] that can support greater alignment between the work of practitioners and policy [https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/policy]makers. There are multiple alternatives emerging within schools and in new models of schooling, but this still leaves the core “old school” structures intact that most students [https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/students] attend, shown above to be mostly obsolete.