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My Four Big Predictions for the Future of Education

It’s a hot button in the news. America’s educational system is broken, both at the K-12 level as well as higher education. The future of education looks bleak. But, how we do to fix it?



As I keep my ear to the ground, I predict four big changes we will see in schools over the next ten years. We will see these in schools and universities as our economy and our culture demand change from us.

Here are four big forecasts for the future of education:

1. Specialized Higher Education

When surveyed, Americans’ number one reason to attend college is to gain skills and knowledge for a career. It came in far above gaining a well-rounded education or to become a more informed citizen. We’re becoming more pragmatic with time. We want to do what works. We want to pay for what works. And right now, the job market is in need of customized skills. We will weed out unnecessary courses and rethink what’s mandatory, based on practical needs. We’ll see a diversity of colleges that offer special prep courses that translate into jobs and careers.

2. Student-Driven and Problem-Based Classes

Our current pedagogy just can’t keep up. About a third of teens drop out of school—which translate to 7,000 kids a day, and about 1.2 million students every year. It’s often not their fault. We fail to offer relevant subjects in an engaging manner for the 21st century student. In the future, we’ll see students using portable devices to learn their subject with a teacher on a monitor, observing their progress. It will be driven by the student, at her pace. Classes will be problem-based not merely subject based. Kids will be solving real-world problems which will engage their passions.

3. Ivy League for the Masses

By 2020, 65% of all jobs will require post-secondary education. Sadly, more than a third of students need remedial classes in college. On top of all this, student debt is higher than ever; the average graduate carries a $26,600 debt. 80% of Americans say the education isn’t worth the debt. How will we fix this? Watch for a growing Internet presence of Ivy League classes offered in an amazingly engaging manner. Educators from Stanford, Yale, Princeton and Duke are linked to these massive, open on-line courses and millions are signing up. They’re accessible and affordable or free.

4. Most valuable commodities: Critical thinking and leadership

Critical thinking is almost a lost art and eventually, education will realize it must recapture teaching this essential element in our society. Already it’s the number one reason university instructors give for the importance college. The same is true for leadership. As poor examples continue to seize news headlines, schools will make leader development central. The Higher Education Research Institute reports: In today’s world, every graduate will need to possess leadership skills (click to tweet).

These four predictions for the future of education are a taste of what we’ll discuss at our 2013 National Leadership Forum, on June 27-28th in Atlanta. This interactive forum will be our most invigorating one ever. We will hear from futurist Leonard Sweet, researcher Elena Bodrova, educational entrepreneur Kim Bearden, Undercover Boss Joel Manby, and myself among other special, surprise guests. Registration is now open. Bring a handful of decision-makers from your team…and prepare for your future.

What predictions about the future of education would you add? Leave a comment below.


  1. Wes Connell on November 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Tim, thanks for being a “Superman” in the fight for excellence in education. After just watching the movie “Waiting for Superman” I was educated about the sad state of our American educational system! I predict there will be more private and charter schools that focus on children’s success not the “systems” perpetuation.

    I join with you in raising the standard of excellence and Godly values in education for our precious future leaders!

    • Tim Elmore on November 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Challenging documentary! Thanks for joining the movement to get students moving again!

  2. Ken Litscher on November 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    These are great predictions, Tim. I can see education heading this way. Should it, though? It appears in your first prediction that you think the liberal arts education will soon be going the way of the DoDo – as programs become more specialized and pragmatic, who needs history or English or theology? Yet, often these courses are argued as the most significant in terms of teaching critical thinking skills. I have two questions:

    1. How do we teach critical thinking in a skills-based academic program?
    2. How do we prepare students (who change careers much more often than their parents did) to be successful in other careers than the one they were trained for?

    • Tim Elmore on November 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Great questions, Ken. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      I don’t know that I have all the answers but here are my thoughts. I would make the argument that skills-based programs teach problem solving and critical thinking skills. When students have the opportunity to solve real-world problems, it builds those skills through clearly defined outcomes. I don’t think we’ll ever fully do away with liberal arts education (nor should we) but as the cost of education continues to increase, people want to know that there will be a higher chance of return on their educational investment.

      I believe leaders solve problems and serve people. These two foundations can guide one through a variety of careers they may encounter over their lifetime.

  3. on September 11, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    While being surveyed, Americans’ main reason for going to college is to gain skills and knowledge for a career. He came far above gaining a complete education or becoming a more informed citizen. We become more pragmatic over time. We want to do what works. We want to pay for what works. Try for academic assistance. And right now, the job market needs adapted skills. We will weed out unnecessary courses and rethink what is mandatory, based on practical needs. We will see a variety of colleges offering special preparation courses that translate into jobs and careers. Our current pedagogy can’t keep up. About a third of young people leave school translating to 7,000 children a day and about 1.2 million students each year. That’s often not their fault. We fail to offer relevant topics in an attractive way to a 21st century student.

  4. Elijah on September 26, 2019 at 4:55 am

    It’s usually not their fault. We fail to provide appropriate topics for the 21st century student engagement. In the future, we will see students using mobile devices to read their lesson with the teacher carefully, monitoring their progress. I needed ukwritings from them. The student will be driven, at their own pace. Classes will be based on the problem and not just based on the lesson. Children will be solving real world problems that will include their passions.

  5. Onsen on October 14, 2019 at 3:46 am

    In addition, student debt is higher than ever; the average graduate carries a debt of $ 26,600. 80% of Americans say education is not worth the debt. How do we solve it? We can Click here now. Watch the growing online participation of the Ivy League classes offered amazingly engaging. Educators from Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and Duke are affiliated with these massive open online courses and millions register. They are available and available or free of charge.

  6. emilyray on August 3, 2020 at 3:31 pm

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My Four Big Predictions for the Future of Education