Long before the end of this century, schools as we know them will no longer exist. Perhaps as early as a decade from now, Americans will no longer be found in pursuit of college degrees, majors, or standardized elementary curricula, but will learn what they wish through a staggering variety of methods and equipment, much of which does not now exist. In place of today's mind-numbing programs, talent-crippling teachers' guild, and stagnant school/college bureaucracy, there will spring up with surprising rapidity a giant industry providing not schooling but education. Free schools, computer pools, telephone conference calls, machine assisted instructions—a broad spectrum of specialized public and private schools, and the return of apprenticeship will work to end today's ineffective semimonopoly.
Two trends support this view. First, the present system's almost unmixed failure and our increasing awareness of the magnitude of that failure. The second and somewhat less publicized trend consists of the concerted efforts by a small growing number of educators and outsiders to deschool society. These two trends—classrooms without education and education without classrooms—are the focus of this issue.
This month the editors of Reason present a double issue devoted to the past, present, and future of education—but especially to the future.