This part of the Schooling for Tomorrow programme is trying to grasp the "big picture ": key trends - in education, society, culture, the economy, and political life - and the different possible futures they bring.
We need a better understanding of them and how they can be linked more directly to current policy thinking. New methodologies and approaches will be needed. We have brought together a network of experts to work on these questions. A first report was written in summer 2000 for our November Rotterdam conference. Beyond this, developmental work may well have to continue over the next several years.
On trends and scenarios, we have two time perspectives in view.
There is the past and present, and the key trends in education and education's environment that make a real difference to the future of schooling. There is also the longer-term future perspective from now over the next 20 years. We are looking at possible developments on major themes such as: the social and economic support for schools; geographical and political locus of control (international, national, local etc); organisational structures (schools, classes, out-of-school arrangements, ICT); key players eg. teachers and learners; the goals and functions of schooling. What are scenarios for the future based on alternative developments along these dimensions?
There is need for forward thinking methodologies for analysis and policy-making. Rapid change is both the reason why many want much better tools for forward thinking and why these are so difficult to develop. Surprisingly little progress has been made in the field of education. There is much to learn from other fields - science, technology, demography and social change, business - but education needs its own approaches and methodologies to forward thinking.