Running with Robots

Running with Robots

The American High School's Third Century

By Greg Toppo and Jim Tracy

How the technological changes that are reshaping the future of work will transform the American high school as well.





How the technological changes that are reshaping the future of work will transform the American high school as well.

What will high school education look like in twenty years? High school students are educated today to take their places in a knowledge economy. But the knowledge economy, based on the assumption that information is a scarce and precious commodity, is giving way to an economy in which information is ubiquitous, digital, and machine-generated. In Running with Robots, Greg Toppo and Jim Tracy show how the technological advances that are already changing the world of work will transform the American high school as well.

Toppo and Tracy—a journalist and an education leader, respectively—look at developments in artificial intelligence and other fields that promise to bring us not only driverless cars but doctorless patients, lawyerless clients, and possibly even teacherless students. They visit schools from New York City to Iowa that have begun preparing for this new world. Toppo and Tracy intersperse these reports from the present with bulletins from the future, telling the story of a high school principal who, Rip Van Winkle–style, sleeps for twenty years and, upon awakening in 2040, can hardly believe his eyes: the principal's amazingly efficient assistant is a robot, calculation is outsourced to computers, and students, grouped by competence and not grade level, focus on the conceptual. The lesson to be learned from both the present and the book's thought-experiment future: human and robotic skillsets are complementary, not in competition. We can run with robots, not against them.


$29.95 T ISBN: 9780262045896 288 pp. | 5.25 in x 8 in 0


  • “Mixing history with storytelling, prediction with fact, this gem of a book creatively stimulates the reader to think about what an ideal education is going to look like in the years and decades ahead. Every educator will read it with pleasure and come away with new and useful perspectives.”

    Stephen M. Kosslyn

    President, Active Learning Sciences, and Chief Academic Officer, Foundry College; author of Active Learning Online

  • “Delightful! A smart take on the future of school, presented with style. I can't remember the last time I had this much fun reading a book about education reform.”

    Jordan Shapiro

    author of Father Figure and The New Childhood

  • “A fascinating odyssey from the birth of the American high school in the nineteenth century to today, and beyond. If you are looking for a different kind of book about the schools of tomorrow, this one is for you. Once you've begun it, you won't be able to put this down.”

    Pasi Sahlberg

    author of Finnish Lessons 3.0: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?