The Flexible Future: Reimagining School for the 21st Century

Education has changed very little over the past century. If Rip Van Winkle fell asleep in his math class in 1919 and woke up a hundred years later, he would immediately recognize the structures and routines of the school day. We must seize the disruption of the pandemic to build a new normal that is both more effective and more equitable.

Teachers share the importance of flexible learning in and out of school and the need to restructure the school day to allow for this additional flexibility. In the recently published report The Flexible Future, Teach Plus Illinois offers recommendations for districts based on a nationwide innovation contest and a series of design thinking workshops for teachers. Both the contest and workshops were designed to solicit a wide range of ideas, but educators surfaced the same solution repeatedly: make learning more flexible and accessible and restructure the school day to better meet student needs.

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