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Today’s one-year olds will graduate from high school in 2036. What can we expect by then?

One of the Back-to-School rituals is for students and teachers to share with each other highlights from how they spent their summer. This past week I shared with faculty and new families about the great opportunity to play Grandma over the summer! This is Luca! He lives in Europe with his mom and dad. Papa (Grandpa) and Tutu (that’s me) don’t get the chance to see him too often. It was delightful– and a lot of work! It gave me an appreciation for the energy (and patience) of my step-daughter and son-in-law! It also got me thinking about what the world is going to be like when Luca graduates high school in 2036. What can we expect by then? So I did what all modern Grannies do… I “googled” it. Here are a few things I learned ( from: FutureTimeline.net):

  • If Luca becomes a superstar athlete and gets to go to the Olympics, he might also be competing against transhumans. It is predicted that by the late 2030s, gene therapy and implants will have become inexpensive. This, along with gene editing, robotic and cybernetic integration will enable “humans” to accomplish the previously un-accomplishable.
  • Tutu Adrianne is more likely to be able to keep up with Luca, at least in the memory category, as Alzheimers is predicted to be fully curable, through reverse engineering of the human brain.
  • He’s unlikely to ever be drafted for the Army because armed forces will rely on robots for the battlefield. They will perform better than humans because they need no rest, have inhuman precision, no fear, no ethical concerns, and no training needs.  
  • Luca is not likely to get a drivers’ license as self driving vehicles will be ubiquitous on our roads. 
  • It might be much easier for Luca to visit Papa and Tutu because the number of planes in the air will have doubled worldwide. The downside is that it will also dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions.  
  • Luca won’t have to do the chores I did as a kid because there will be a billion service robots worldwide performing personal work such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn and cooking or professional work such as surgical operations, fighting fires, security patrol, or package delivery. In fact, Luca’s family already owns a robot lawnmower– apparently fairly common in Europe!
  • He’ll have to find a different candy than chocolate to satisfy his sweet tooth! As a result of drought, soil depletion and reduced harvests in Africa, by 2031- chocolate will be a rare luxury.

These are radical changes for our world, and only a sampling of what is predicted by the time Luca graduates from high school– that is, assuming high school is still a relevant model for learning. This, in fact, begs the question, how do we best prepare students for the complex world that they are inheriting from us? A world where 90% of the data was created in the last two years? Clearly, we can’t teach students EVERYTHING. We must instead discern the key concepts that students must learn and only focus on content that serves those concepts. Then we must ensure we are helping students amass a toolkit of skills to be able to understand and analyze those concepts–to think, to create, to innovate. This, in fact, is a key topic the faculty and I will be focusing on this year. We will be inviting our families to join us in this important conversation, so that Luca, and your children, are well-equipped to contribute to their world in a meaningful way in this era of exponential change.