For fear of stating the obvious, any consideration of the relationship between education and the future needs to acknowledge that educational institutions cannot be considered natural and unchanging phenomena like the cycles of the moon or the movements of the sun; they have not always been this way and they will not always be this way. Rather, they are the temporary and contingent products of complex cultural, technological, economic and political contexts. Indeed, the contemporary period of mass education is a very recent product of human history and, given levels of absenteeism and exclusion today, cannot itself be seen as a secure and universal experience.