Opinion
International Opinion

How Do World Trends Shape Education?

By Tracey Burns — September 08, 2015 3 min read

We often discuss the fact that students must learn about global issues and challenges in order to be live and work in our interconnected world. But how do global issues and trends affect the education system itself? Tracey Burns, Analyst and Project Leader, Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), explains.

Will robots replace our teaching force in 10 years? In 20 years? Will new fertility technologies allow for designer babies (and, in parallel, “rejects” that did not turn out as expected)? Will online relationships rival or replace our friendship groups? What might this mean for families, and schools? These ideas might seem radical, but the trends behind them are supported by science. These trends are just a few of many that could have an impact on education, if not today, then tomorrow or the next day. And yet most of our education systems still do not address them.

For example, climate change trends make it clear that across OECD countries we can expect to experience more and more extreme weather events. In most of our countries, the effects will be felt most acutely in cities, where the density of the population and ageing infrastructure (roads as well as services such as water, electricity, and plumbing) makes us especially vulnerable. If you combine this with worries about the emergence of new epidemics (MERS in Korea is just the latest example) and our ageing populations, a cautious city planner has reason for concern. And not just hypothetical reasons, either. Recent flooding in New York and other major cities has revealed the weakness of many of our emergency-response services.

So what does this have to do with education? Good question. In the short term, communities need to have a plan to educate their populations on what to do (and not do) in the event of a major storm or other extreme weather events such as droughts or fires. In the medium and long term, we need to develop school infrastructure and transport that are designed to provide safe access for our students. Hoping it won’t happen is not a sustainable plan—certainly not for the communities that have already experienced an extreme weather event or those that are forecast to do so in the near future.

This is just one example. Important trends to keep an eye on range from the macro level (increasing globalization and migration) to national and regional labor markets, urban planning, and even extend to our changing demography and family structures. How can education support our ageing populations—currently one of the major demographic preoccupations for most OECD governments—to stay active and healthy well past retirement? Will cities keep growing at increasing speeds, or will we continue to see the decline of mid-size cities, such as Detroit and Busan (Korea)? What about new technologies in the classroom, will they change the way we teach and learn? Perhaps even our concept of what a classroom is?

The OECD’s work on Trends Shaping Education stimulates reflection on the challenges facing education by providing an overview of key economic, social, demographic, and technological trends. It has been used by national governments to guide strategic thinking. It’s also part of the curriculum in teacher education colleges, and is a resource for teachers when designing courses and lectures, as well as parents and students themselves.

Which global trends do you think will most affect your classroom or shape policy in your state or district? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

The next Trends Shaping Education volume is due out in January 2016.

Connect with OECD, Heather, and Asia Society on Twitter.

A version of this piece originally appeared on OECD’s Education Today Blog.

Links:
Trends Shaping Education 2013
The Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI)

Photo credit: DrAfter123/iStockPhoto

The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

International Pre-COVID Learning Inequities Were Already Large Around the World
A new international benchmarking highlights gaps in training for digital learning and other supports that could deepen the challenge for low-income schools during the pandemic.
4 min read
International Part of Global Trend, 1 in 3 U.S. High Schoolers Felt Disconnected From School Before Pandemic
UNESCO's annual report on global education progress finds countries need to make more effort to include marginalized students, particularly in the United States.
4 min read
International How Schools in Other Countries Have Reopened
Ideas from Australia, Denmark, and Taiwan can help American district and school leaders as they shape their reopening plans.
11 min read
Students at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan, perform The Little Mermaid in full costume and masks.
Students at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan, perform The Little Mermaid in full costume and masks.
Photo courtesy of Dustin Rhoades/Taipei American School
International Photos What School Reopening Looks Like Around the World
Here’s a look at how countries around the world have addressed the challenges of opening schools during COVID-19.
1 min read
School children play football at their school sports facilities in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, April 20, 2020. Schools reopened Monday in Belarus following an extended spring break, but authorities allowed parents to keep their children at home even though the country specifically steered clear of closures and restrictions on public movement during the coronavirus pandemic.
School children play football at their school sports facilities in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, April 20, 2020. Schools reopened Monday in Belarus following an extended spring break, but authorities allowed parents to keep their children at home even though the country specifically steered clear of closures and restrictions on public movement during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sergei Grits/AP