NAESP’s Vision 2021 initiative is creating some terrific conversations about the future of pre-K-8 schools and we encourage you to join these conversations. The Principals’ Office will have a special two-week Vision 2021 chat series that will feature interviews with educators and authors about the future of schools. Weigh in on what you envision schools will look like in 15 years and what needs to be done today to prepare schools for tomorrow.

The series kicks off today with some insights from author and speaker Gary Marx who often looks at how societal trends affect young children:

Keeping an Eye on Change

It goes without saying that the role of principals and their schools is to prepare students for a fast-changing world. In order to do this, Gary Marx, president of the Center for Public Outreach and author of several books on the future of education, believes that all educators need to find time to look at trends affecting the whole of society and consider their implications for schools and students.   

However, principals often find it difficult to look ahead when they are constantly bombarded with issues that need immediate attention. By keeping an eye on trends and issues, Marx says, principals will be in a better position to focus on constant improvement and lead their schools to adapt to the changing needs of society. Vision 2021 provides an additional resource to help principals jumpstart discussions about the future of schools.

Although expectations for 21st century job skills are evolving, Marx says principals can see the larger patterns in trends he has identified that indicate what students may need to know and be able to do. A globalized society increases interdependency and requires communication skills, cultural competency, and diplomacy. Today’s high-stakes testing does not adequately assess these skills or other important education outcomes such as civic responsibility, employability, and the ability to lead an interesting life.

High-stakes testing and future job skills are just two of the many issues principals must monitor as they prepare their students for the future. What other issues should principals consider as they look ahead at what their students and schools will need? 

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re: Join the Conversation on the Future of Pre-K-8 schools

I wholeheartedly agree with Gary Marx’s ideas. A couple ideas emerged for me that also apply to principals and all educators directly involved with the preparing of children today for their tomorrow when asked …what do we need.

1. We need time and easy access to valid and timely information to understand and strategically adapt to the evolving role of schools. We are actively developing individualized learning plans from formative assessments, providing more targeted instruction often through new technology, and engaging in vital collaborations with our teams as well as agencies, businesses, and other cultures. And now we must be marketing our schools to remain a viable learning center for all of our students.

2. On a larger scale, we need a significant increase in community, state and national support for the critical value of education for every child. There are so many competing demands for limited resources and our culture appears to value the “quick-rich” approach to life that seems to ignore the value of lifelong learning. Imagine a culture where all families as well as the supporting systems valued education as a primary means through which its younger generation will be prepared to lead this country and to have fulfilling lives that respects and capitalizes upon its diversity!