The Education Futures timeline of education: 1657 - 2045


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Education Futures celebrates its first five years of exploring new futures in human capital development with a timeline of the history of modern education. This timeline provides not only a glimpse into the past and present, but plots out a plausible future history for human capital development. The future history presented is intended to be edgy, but also as a conversation starter on futures for education and future thinking in human capital development.

Although this timeline is largely U.S.-centric, the trends impacting it are global. Please consult the glossary, below, for additional information regarding many of the themes presented. As always, we invite your feedback and suggestions for further development!

Published in: Education, Technology
1 Comment
  • Dear John,

    What I'm missing here is the fact that 'A Nation At Riks' also aimed at the promotion of ICT in the classroom as at that time (1983) in the US ICT was seen as the enabler/driver of succes (although mainly in business). Fifteen years later a group of concerned education reformers published the manifesto 'A Nation Still At Risk'.Little progress had been made (even with the promotion of ICT in the classroom) and a the new strategy called for some breakthrough changes. Little or few of these challenges have been put to the test. The NCLB-act has proven to rigid and charter schools are still heavily discussed. Other challenges have been forgotten I guess,

    Paulo Moekotte
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The Education Futures timeline of education: 1657 - 2045

  1. 1. The Education Futures Timeline of Education 1657-2045
  2. 2. About Utilizing many of the best resources for projecting futures for human capital development, this timeline provides a glimpse of the past, present and plausible futures for education. To begin, simply hover your mouse over toward the right of the timeline, or select a year to jump to from below. To learn more about these futures, or to suggest your own, visit
  3. 3. 1657 Jan Amos Comenius publishes “Orbis Sensualium Pictus” [“World in Pictures”], launching modern education in the West.
  4. 4. 1900 As nations race to massify education, John Dewey publishes 'The School and Society,' linking classical philosophies of Plato and Rouseau to connect the individual with society in education. He would make many more contributions to Progressive education.
  5. 5. 1983 As other nations begin to embrace Progressive education, the U.S. National Commission on Excellence in Education publishes 'A Nation at Risk,' which emphasized quantitative performance measurement in schools. A period of reforms, centered on testing regimes, begins. This comes to be known as the beginning of the Dark Ages of Modern Education.
  6. 6. 2001 The No Child Left Behind Act is signed into law, launching Federally-mandated, standards-based education reform and increased accountability within schools. Critics maintain that the rote information-based, high-stakes testing regimes it created suppresses the critical thinking among students, and eliminates most opportunities for creative development and expression in the formal education system.
  7. 7. 2007 MIT Media Lab and One Laptop Per Child release the XO-1 (the '$100 laptop'), designed to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world to learn, explore and express their creativity.
  8. 8. 2012 The Semantic Web (Web 3.0) takes off. Information systems become outdated rapidly as competent, automated knowledge systems emerge. The need for rote learning in education disappears almost immediately as accurate information is available immediately through the ubiquitous deployment of Web-enabled tools.
  9. 9. 2015 Amid escalating criticism that the NCLB regime is creating automatons that are routinely outperformed by software, the U.S. Congress repeals the NCLB Act. The President calls for a new, 'Manhattan project in education,' that will ensure the nation's competitive success through the successful, purposive application of creative ideas: Innovation. The Dark Ages of Modern Education formally ends.
  10. 10. 2017 The pervasiveness of mobile and augmented reality technologies are accepted and finally mainstreamed in schools. Students are encouraged to use these technologies not only to locate and interpret information, but also to solve, creatively, problems that extend beyond the usual curriculum.
  11. 11. 2020 After five years of trials, several medical device companies begin mass marketing implants that provide mobile communication and information services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Wealthier parents begin cautiously adopting the technologies, spending large sums of money for basic implants for their children, who begin to outperform their peers in schools.
  12. 12. 2022 Partially credited to the use of augmenting technologies, a nine-year-old girl from Ecuador wins the Nobel Prize in Literature for a poetic novel about what it means to be truly human. She astonishes the world by writing the text in Chinese, and not her native Spanish.
  13. 13. 2023 Schools reach an enrollment crisis when shifts in demographics and an increase in competition from non- formal and informal modes of education begin diverting pupils from formal educational organizations. The nation is shocked when the New York City Department of Education announces it is closing down 80% of its schools.
  14. 14. 2025 Machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence. The Turing test is passed routinely by various artificial intelligences.
  15. 15. 2027 Costco and Target begin carrying FDA-approved conception enhancement kits for $24.99. Through genetic manipulation, the products promise not only to enhance physical performance, but to also increase the average intelligence of children conceived through the product by 40 IQ points over year 2010 baseline levels.
  16. 16. 2028 To boost national competitiveness, China mandates that all parents conceive genetically enhanced children, imposing large fines if they fail to produce offspring that are significantly more intelligent than the previous generation. Viewing China's move as a Sputnik-like challenge to human capital development, Western states respond with financial incentives for transhuman research and tax credits to technologically augmented families.
  17. 17. 2030 Certain elements of the population begin merging human thinking and cognitive functions with machine intelligence. The boundaries between human and machine intelligence become hard to define in both physical and virtual terms.
  18. 18. 2032 School teachers and university faculty that refuse to upgrade their cognitive functions are asked to retire early as, regularly, they are outmoded and outperformed by enhanced pupils.
  19. 19. 2033 Several conservative colleges announce a neo-Luddite movement to preserve 'traditional' teaching and learning by restricting the use of technology among their faculty, staff and students, including a prohibition of intelligence augmentation through the use of mobile devices. Their graduates, unable to compete in an intelligence-driven market, become janitors, beauticians, and other low-wage service workers.
  20. 20. 2035 An intelligent machine decides it wants to have children, and utilizing its best knowledge from genetics, nanotechnology and robotics, designs its own, new successor species, which, in turn, initiates a rapid cycle of redesign and evolution. A 'golden age' begins of non-human originated creative and innovative inputs into society and culture.
  21. 21. 2037 Technological advancements make formal education obsolete, and the few remaining organized, formal schools of education close their doors.
  22. 22. 2045 The Technological Singularity: Possessing neither the smartest minds nor the strongest performers on Earth, humans can no longer imagine their own futures. From their perspective, change occurs seemingly instantaneously, at a planetary magnitude. Their futures will be determined by 'others.'