The Future of K-12 Education with Grant Lichtman

Internationally recognized thought leader in K-12 education Grant Lichtman visited campus for the day to share his insights into today’s evolving K-12 landscape, addressing how parents and educators can support our students through change and innovation to best prepare for the future.
After an introduction by Head of School Danielle Heard, Grant described his professional journey from marine geologist to educational consultant and author. He gradually became aware that many schools are falling behind in terms of addressing the massive shifts in technology and organizational change in our society, and he set out to understand the challenges they face. As part of his work, he visited more than 175 schools to explore the existential questions facing schools today—why should we change; what will that change look like; how will we change; and are our schools on a trajectory to intersect with a future that is vastly less knowable than it ever has been in the past?

Grant shared a graph showing a steep rate of technological change in our society, overlaid with a much less steep curve that is human adaptability, indicating that technology is changing faster than humans’ paces of learning. He notes that educators are striving and struggling to manage this gap. With the world’s body of knowledge doubling every year, educators must make tough choices about curriculum: what must be excluded to make room for the new?  

Innovative schools are making adjustments that are helping them weather these shifts. There is a change from “what we teach” to “how we learn” with increased student engagement, increased curiosity, and a more student-centered approach. Innovative schools teach content and skills, recognize that relevance increases student engagement, strive to promote intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, and stress mastery over grades. Innovative schools encourage creativity, risk-taking, and openness to learning in the world beyond the classroom walls. These schools are flexible with variables like age, time, learning spaces, and student interests, while integrating technologies such as virtual reality to support “relationship-rich” learning processes.

The audience was deeply engaged in the ensuing discussion around the role of parents in supporting their children during this time of change and what happens when there is a lag effect between what educators know is beneficial for children and what parents shopping for a school for their children think they want.

We thank Grant Lichtman for his insights and his work with our entire community.

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Nashoba Brooks School is a coed Lower School from Preschool to Grade 3 and an all-girls Middle School from Grades 4 to 8 located in Concord, Massachussetts.