At a recent meeting with the school’s Leadership Team, we discussed a blog post by Shelly Blake-Plock called “21 Things That Will Be Obsolete by 2020.”

The list was designed to provoke conversations among teachers and administrators about what will change in schools of the future. A sampling of the list and Blake-Plock’s commentary just to give you an idea:

1. DESKS

The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.

2. LANGUAGE LABS

Foreign language acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.

3. COMPUTERS

Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: ‘Our concept of what a computer is.’ Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we’re going to see the full fury ofindividualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can’t wait.

4. HOMEWORK

The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).

5. THE ROLE OF STANDARDIZED TESTS IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS

The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.

The rest of the list, minus the commentary:

6. DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION AS A SIGN OF DISTINGUISHED TEACHER

7. FEAR OF WIKIPEDIA

8. PAPERBACKS

9. ATTENDANCE OFFICES

10. LOCKERS

11. I.T. DEPARTMENTS

12. CENTRALIZED INSTITUTIONS

13. ORGANIZATION OF EDUCATIONAL SERVICES BY GRADE

14. EDUCATION SCHOOLS THAT FAIL TO INTEGRATE TECHNOLOGY

15. PAID/OUTSOURCED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

16. CURRENT CURRICULAR NORMS

17. PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT

18. TYPICAL CAFETERIA FOOD

19. OUTSOURCED GRAPHIC DESIGN AND WEB DESIGN

20. HIGH SCHOOL ALGEBRA 1

21. PAPER

Needless to say, the full list gave our Leadership Team ample ammunition for a good conversation. Some items on the list, you might imagine, sparked some disagreement. For example, the group remains pretty fond of parent-teacher conferences, where important personal connections are made between teachers, parents, and students. And, despite our increasing use of technology, paper consumption seems to be going up, rather than down.

What did we agree with? I can’t report that our agreement was unanimous on any one area. However, some of the concepts sparked some more deep thinking than others.

Cary Academy has long kept some distance from the AP program (No. 5), designing courses that we believe go deeper than the standardized curriculum. The explosion of online courses and new modes of learning is definitely causing us to think about current curricular norms (No. 16). Over time, this could indeed cause us to look at the centralized nature of school (No. 12), even if we are still a ways away from that reality.

Thankfully, something we could all agree with: Chef Sam has helped Cary Academy long ago break free from “Typical Cafeteria Food” (No. 18).

What would be on your list?