When thinking about the future of education, timescale is key. Planning on five-year timescales won't help us. We need look in terms of one or two generations – which is twenty-five to fifty years ahead. Most of the discourse, however, is not about the very long term. The reason: most people don't have the luxury to look so far ahead.
In the political world, electoral cycles are only four or five years. In the business world, we are highly influenced by the economic cycle, which is about eight years. This mires us in a short-term way of thinking, but in education we sorely need to look further. In a 50-year timescale there are approximately six economic cycles. This means six booms and busts within that 50 year time; in a 25 year time scale there are three booms and busts. The political equivalent is that there will be ten electoral cycles in a 50-year period.
The economy is predicted to grow by 2% per annum. This means that in 50 years it will be 60% bigger than it is today! That means 1.6 times the amount of “stuff”. The amount of money this will create means that the total pool available for wages in society will be 1.6 times higher.
The 2% prediction is based on GDP, which is the best measure we have for economic growth. But sometimes those numbers are a little bit wrong. GDP figures don't truly take into account that the same item is better or faster in some way than the item from 10 years ago that they're comparing it with. So if we predict 3% annual growth, the economy will be four times bigger in 50 years. In a hundred years, it's nineteen times bigger!