IT is obvious that anyone who tries to predict what the future holds is foolhardy, brave, or both. Yet it is also true that those who devise policy and direct social institutions must try to plan ahead, both to anticipate what might happen and to affect what does happen. In trying to think about what American schools might look like in the year 2000, I found myself reflecting on earlier attempts to conjure up the school of the future.
I hold no brief for the idea that the future is to be discovered by searching the past, but it struck me that it would be instructive to see what could be learned from the past about the limitations of social forecasting and about what might be the enduring qualities of the schools. Anyone who has studied the past knows that history has a limited predictive value. Knowledge of the past is vital