FUTURE FORECASTS for 2000: Part 2

As we approach this more-than-usually momentous New Year, we continue our look ahead, as parenting experts tell us what changes and developments they foresee in their fields in the upcoming 50 years. We can feel the future! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

EDUCATION A Collection of NYC Experts Look Ahead

Compiled by Catherine Hausman

Laura Allen, President and Co-Founder of Vision Education, Inc.

Someday soon, we will look back and laugh at the days when schools had Introduction to Technology classes. Did we ever have Introduction to the Telephone class? The telephone is not the topic, it is the tool.

In smart schools of the future, the computer will be as ubiquitous as pen and paper is today. Kids will be wearing computers, carrying little laptops, making computers, and imbedding them in their toys and tools.

Our expectations about learning will change. We won't expect all fourth graders to listen to a lecture on the same topic at the same time on the same day. They will all be working on different projects in learning teams. Each learning team will need specific coaching to help them complete their work. They will not be waiting for the teacher (facilitator) to tell them what to do next, they will be using the computer and other tools to find answers to their own questions.

A "smart" classroom at work

In the corner of our classroom is a worm composting bin where red worms are eating food waste. Located in the bin is a temperature sensor the size of a small crayon, recording the temperature of the soil. It is connected to a computer the size of a deck of playing cards; the students have programmed this computer to collect the temperature four times a day and save it inside a spreadsheet for later examination. They have created a database to keep a written log of activities. Via the Internet, we are connected to four other schools doing the same thing. Using these technologies, students design and conduct science experiments and communicate with others, sharing data and hypotheses, successes and problems.

One week we got an infestation of bugs and the food started rotting instead of being eaten by our worms. The worms seemed less active, and we couldn't figure out what was wrong. One of my students suggested we e-mail a scientist involved in this work; suddenly a group of students organized themselves to find information from the Internet to help restore a healthy balance to our little ecosystem. Instead of directing my students to find a solution, I was informed of the steps that they were taking to solve the problem themselves. Vision Education Inc., located in Manhattan, provides schools and non-profits with creative and effective ways to use computers with children.

Stanley A. Bosworth, Headmaster, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn Heights

Oh, brave new century! Educators, parents and students will wake up to our real identities. The best students must be endowed with help as well as gray matter. The entire educational system must serve its gifted and potentially gifted. We are increasingly a mixed bag of colors, ethnicities, and backgrounds. We will discover this mixture is an enrichment, a special United States secret, a miracle in our midst. Our blue-eyed children will learn Chinese along with their black-skinned neighbors. Education will be striated, geared toward ability, generated by institutions: public like Stuyvesant High School; private like Saint Ann's School; even venial, like chartered schools. Anything must be done to give a chance to those who were bribed, kidnapped, conquered, smuggled or in any way came to our shores. Our women are already more powerful than any similar group in the world. That is because we realized that they could cope, struggle, learn and win. We must do the same for any people who can succeed. Enable the excluded will be our answer to the voices of Islamic sexism, international racism, and colonial exploitation. Enable the excluded with special schools, vouchers, and love. We may double our population. We will most certainly be the foremost power on this earth if we reject bigotry and castes and seek enablement and reward.

Gloria Buckery, Principal of P.S. 198 on the Upper East Side

When I envision education in the new millennium, I think of every student succeeding. I think of the expression, "No exceptions. No excuses."

For decades, there was an unspoken acceptance of failure. "Those children" just could not be expected to learn as well as other children. Sometimes "those children" were second language learners, sometimes they were minority students, or sometimes the children of parents who earned minimum wages. Whoever they were, their failure was accepted.

As we approach the new millennium, the words "accountability" and "standards" have become commonplace. But they are not merely new buzzwords. They are words intended to put administrators, parents, teachers, students and society on notice that failure cannot and will not be accepted. Every child must succeed. Recognizing that some children will need more time and support than others, there appears to be a commitment to identifying and providing the resources needed to assure success by all. Since neither our families nor our society can continue the routine acceptance of failure, there is a constant effort to create a sense of urgency and a sense of interdependence.

A new age in education has arrived. Fortunately, "those children" will be the beneficiaries. For the first time, "those children" will be given an opportunity and expected to gain the knowledge and develop the skills they will need to lead productive, fulfilling lives. P.S. 198 shares an Annenberg partnership, as well as many aspects of staff development and all aspects of the arts with P.S. 6.

Beth J. Lief, President and CEO, New Visions for Public Schools

We know what it takes to make a top quality school: a great principal; a qualified and caring teaching staff; clear expectations for what students should know and a commitment to helping all students reach those goals; strong, respectful partnerships with parents and community; an up-to-date facility and sufficient resources for materials, trips and the like. This short list includes the basics of a rigorous, successful learning community where adults and students love to learn together - in short, a place where parents want to send their children.

Schools like this exist. Most of us know them when we see them, and we try to send our children to them. The problem is that there are not enough of these schools for all children, and the scarcity of such schools is greatest in the poorest neighborhoods.

My vision for the millennium is a society where every neighborhood has great schools, schools that all parents feel excited about, schools that inspire children to become life-long learners. In the next millennium, no child should have to attend an overcrowded school with unqualified teachers or principals.

To make this vision a reality, society must begin by adequately and equitably supporting and financing the education of all children. We must hold schools and school systems accountable but we must also give them the necessary resources and support. Finally, we must accord the teaching profession the respect it needs to recruit and retain enough smart, qualified teachers and principals to fill every school. New Visions for Public Schools is a non-profit organzaition which works with the NYC public school system, the private sector and the community to mobilize resources and to develop programs and policies to effect change in public school classrooms.

CATHERINE HAUSMAN, who writes frequently on education, is co-author of "The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools".

TRAVEL From Grandmother's House We Go!

Family travel once meant a station wagon and a cooler filled with Yoo-Hoo. As airplanes and bottled water redefined the leisure industry, family travel blossomed. When we asked three family travel experts to set forth their predictions for travel trends of the next 50 years, intergenerational travel became the common denominator.

Dorothy Jordon, founder and editor-in-chief of the New York City-based Family Travel Times (www.familytraveltimes.com) says, "Perhaps the most visible trend in family travel over the next 50 years will be the growth of multi-generation family vacations. Even today we see grandparents, children and grandchildren marking special occasions by heading off together. What better way to celebrate a lifetime together than to take your extended family on a memorable holiday."

Laura Manske, travel editor at McCall's, notes that "as baby boomers continue to age, the travel industry will accommodate them with ramps in hotels; medical facilities at resorts (Half Moon in Jamaica has built its own hospital); menus low in salt, cholesterol, etc.; pools with lifts that raise and lower guests; and more." On the other hand, Kyle McCarthy, editor of www.familytravelforum.com feels parents "will demand vacations that are physically and/or mentally rewarding. Family options for adventure, eco-tourism, language study, exotic destinations, interactive and educational travel should expand enormously and become affordable for everyone." Manske says she has seen large numbers of "babies, toddlers and preschoolers on airplanes, cruise ships, safaris, European jaunts, as well as tropical treks and mountainous climbs."

Jordon also feels the Internet "will have a major impact on the selection of family vacations." She notes that "inveterate bargain seekers (who have enough time) will be able to consistently lower the cost of family vacations - making it economically more feasible to get away more often." Moreover, she continues, with the ability to take "virtual" vacations, parents and their children will be able to scope out vacation possibilities in advance. Jordon cautions that "folks may forget that much more than the visual creates the actual vacation experience."

McCarthy cites marketing surveys estimating children's influence in consumer spending and feels that the travel industry "will be directing advertising towards our kids. You'll begin to see all-inclusive resorts, restaurants, airlines, cruise companies and tour operators join theme parks in promoting free gifts, wild 'n crazy activities, extreme sports, and all sorts of silly Fun! Fun! Fun!" Manske, author of "Family Travel: The Farther You Go, the Closer You Get", adds that "the view of what constitutes a good childcare program will undergo a revolution, as the next generation will no longer be content to subject their kids to video games, video tapes, and such when traveling."

Finally, Jordon cites faster transportation which will "allow families to spend more time on the vacation than en route. "When one considers that it takes only three hours to take the train from London to Paris, we can anticipate the availability of high speed train and faster air transport - much of which we'll be able to purchase with frequent flyer mileage, rendering trotting the globe en famille not only fast, but affordable."