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The Education Industry Is Evolving — Fast. Here’s What’s Driving the Change

Primary and secondary education are public goods, to be sure. For better or worse, they’re also part of a broader, multibillion-dollar industry. And, like most other industries, the business of education is in the midst of an intensely disruptive phase.

For already-overstretched educators, staying on top of the rapid pace of change feels like an impossible ask. Then again, educators are an active bunch; many of today’s most consequential innovations are already in heavy classroom rotation. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the ongoing education renaissance.

The Charter School Movement Is Gaining Stea

The history of the charter school movement is interesting, to say the least. The short story: The foundations for the movement were laid in the northeastern United States during the 1970s and 80s, but institutions that we’d recognize as charter schools today didn’t arise until the early 1990s. Today, charter schools are found in all but a handful of states and collectively enroll about 3 million students.

Charter school models vary wildly, but the top-performing schools are united in the common pursuit of innovative approaches to education. Institutions like Uplift Education, a Dallas-area charter network supported by regional banks and other stakeholders, champion a radically inclusive vision anchored by a belief that the circumstances of one’s birth shouldn’t determine one’s fate. Uplift’s class of 2018 boasts a stunning 100% college acceptance rate; most Uplift students are first-time college attendees, and most qualify for free or reduced lunch as well. 

It’s impossible to know for sure where the charter movement will lead, but all signs point to continued innovation in the years to come. That’s fantastic news for anyone seriously committed to fixing what ails public education.

Project-Based Learning Is Coming Into Its Own

Project-based learning has been in vogue for a few years now, and it’s clear that it has legs. Edutopia defines the concept as “the act of learning through identifying a real-world problem and developing its solution…[k]ids show what they learn as they journey through the unit, not just at the end.”

In short, project-based learning resembles the sort of experiential learning in which adults participate every day. Which makes it a great way to prepare kids for the proverbial real world.

The Whole-Child Approach Holds Vast Potential for Diverse Cohorts

The whole-child approach sounds labor-intensive, and it is — at least, at first. That’s because it requires educators to incorporate each student’s entire range of needs: social, emotional, academic, and physical. Needless to say, classrooms that fully integrate the whole-child approach are more inclusive and welcoming spaces where children are truly empowered to reach their potential.

Technology Is Revolutionizing Classroom Teaching and Self-Study (But You Knew That Already)

From a technological perspective, today’s classrooms look nothing like the classrooms of the 1990s or early 2000s, which in turn looked nothing like the classrooms of the 1970s and early 1980s. The pace of technological change is accelerating, thanks to the incorporation of social media, virtual reality, 3D printing, and AI into everyday classroom processes.

What’s Next for the Future of Education?

It’s clear enough that the future of education is bright. As to what precisely that future holds, only time will tell. For now, America’s hardworking educators will continue to do what they do best: develop and roll out innovative new ways to empower every child to reach their full potential.

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