Most countries have a mandatory school system, or an aspiration to develop one, based on the premise that education matters and all children should have the opportunity to grow into active learners. In most contexts, this opportunity happens in a formal place of learning called school.

However, “The world as we know it is changing. Big shifts in politics, the economy and technology are shaping our lives in ways that we mostly can’t predict or control. The very nature of work, family and community are beginning to look and feel very different, as are the challenges and opportunities that we face. The world has changed, but most schools haven’t.”


Furthermore, as popular “experts” as well as scholars increasingly suggest, the focus in schools is all too often on teaching rather than learning.

So, accepting that education or the process of learning through the social institution of schooling sits at the heart of preparing present and future generations to thrive, the challenge surely is: How can we create opportunities for children and young people to make sense of the world around them and prepare themselves for becoming confident, resilient and contributing local, national and global citizens?

This raises deep and profound questions about the extended context of how and when “schooling” occurs, and on the relationship between how children experience school-life and achieve purposeful educational outcomes. Consequently, in an international context of change and uncertainty, we believe it’s time to take stock and consider what kinds of
places do our schools need to be and what needs to change in how they prepare our children and young people to step into an increasingly uncertain future?

When questioning the purpose of schooling, we are, perhaps inevitably, drawn to Ken Robinson’s challenging thinking regarding schools as social institutions of learning. Writing in 2010, he argued very powerfully that schools still fundamentally look and function like the 19th century institutions which predated our schools of today.

This strand of the Schooling for The Future series aims to address these questions through three distinct but complementary themes:

  • A Framework for Futures Thinking
  • Learning Beyond Boundaries
  • New models of School Improvement

These themes are designed to provide prompts to thinking together with offering possible approaches to developing models of change for those engaged in the planning and delivery of national and local schooling systems. We hope you find them helpful.

Anton Florek (Series Editor)