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Rethinking Education Systems for Tomorrow: A Conversation with Marc Tucker

NCEE Founding President and CEO Emeritus, Marc Tucker, talks with Anthony Mackay about his new paper which explores what the best education systems in the world can do to prepare for a volatile, uncertain future.

Anthony Mackay, NCEE’s CEO, speaks with Marc Tucker, Founder and President Emeritus of NCEE, about his latest paper, The World’s Best Performing Education Systems: What Would It Take for Them to Adapt to What Might be a Very Different Future? Mackay asks Tucker to review his core argument that education systems all over the world are out of date and unable to provide the kind of education all young people need to succeed in the global economy of tomorrow.

Tucker explains that the underlying structure of the global economy has changed dramatically over the last half century as a result of globalization and automation, leaving behind a growing segment of the population who are unprepared to compete in globally integrated labor markets and do not have the skills to compete with emerging technology.

Tucker argues that it is not possible to improve current education systems simply by spending more money. In fact, the “productivity” of education systems around the world — learning outcomes generated per student cost — has been declining in recent decades.  The paper offers two options for nations that want to ensure that their education systems are future ready. The first option focuses on studying the world’s best education systems where student performance is high and steadily improving. However, this approach will not work if the future is radically different from the present. The second option is a much more radical approach that calls for starting from scratch and fundamentally redesigning a new education model. Education stakeholders would need to work together to create a high-quality, equitable education system that draws heavily on the latest learning science research and technology to design an entirely different learning environment for students and teachers at the same cost as our current system.

Tucker says he hopes that this paper spurs a sustained global conversation about how the basic shape of today’s education systems needs to change dramatically. He is “modestly optimistic that this new interest in system design and the appreciation of its importance not just in education outcomes, but economic outcomes and social and political outcomes will in the end prevail.”  Watch the full conversation below and read the full paper here.