How’s your Esperanto? My Esperanto sucks! And until just two days ago, I didn’t really know much about it except as a punchline to many jokes. Like most inventions, Esperanto was a good idea… in theory!  Created in the late 1800s by the Polish linguist, L. L. Zamenhof the language of Esperanto was designed to bring harmony and unity to the world by forming a “politically neutral language that would transcend nationality and foster peace and international understanding between people with different languages. (Wikipedia)” While the language has been around for about 120 years, only about two million people speak the language to some extent today. Like Bitcoin, Google Glass, Laser Discs, and the Concorde, Esperanto just didn’t quite take off and change the world the way that its inventor(s) had intended.

So why am I talking about these failures in innovation? Because my thoughts about the future of schools and innovation in schools is that they’ll be just the same… for most! Despite the fact that there are some great cutting edge schools that are vying to make “classrooms” obsolete, the majority of our world’s children will never have the luxury, privilege, or opportunity to experience 22nd century education.

I’m honored to have spent most of my teaching career in (and my children have the opportunity to attend) schools that utilize the fairly universal list of education design principles for tomorrow’s schools (according to Education Week):

  1. personalized
  2. safe and secure
  3. inquiry-based
  4. student-directed
  5. collaborative
  6. interdisciplinary
  7. rigorous and hands-on
  8. embodying a culture of excellence and high expectations
  9. environmentally conscious
  10. offering strong connections to the local community and business
  11. globally networked
  12. setting the stage for lifelong learning.

But most children in state-run schools will not benefit from these new and innovative learning environments… And children in developed countries will be even farther behind the curve.

How do we continue to develop the classroom of the future without further disenfranchising the rest of our world’s children? How do we push for progressive education when any move in one direction further alienates children in environments that lack ____________ (fill in the blank: resources, open-mindedness, money, safety, etc.)?

I want to work in the classroom of the future NOW! I want my children to learn in environments where there are no walls, where learning and thinking is rich, meaningful, and environmentally as well as culturally sensitive. I want to be part of a globally networked environment where I am not the only “expert” of learning but where my elementary students are benefiting from higher level MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) who are more expert than I!

I want, I want! I WANT!!!

But in 5, 10, or 15 years I don’t want to be working in a “Jetsons”-like school while most of the world’s children are learning in the age of “the Flinstones”. I don’t know how to rectify this situation… but I fret about schools moving at race car speed while others don’t even have access to a covered wagon.

Perhaps MOOCs are not the end-all-be-all answer, but I think they may help close the gap for all.