Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choosing the future

I attended an ELESIG symposium today (major downside: no connectivity in the venue) at which Richard Sandford delivered a presentation based on Futurelabs' research into possible future scenarios.

He reminded us of something I think we would all do well to remember... and to remind others about: the nature of the future isn't a foregone conclusion. Neither is it up to the ubiquitous-yet-mysterious 'them' to shape it. We will have (and already do have) a role to play in what the future looks like. If we think things are headed in a direction we're not happy with, we need to be lobbying for and trying to bring about a different sort of future.

Now that may all seem a bit 'well duh', but...

It also occurs to me that the education curriculum implies that we have identified what the future is going to look like, simply by virtue of the preparation we're providing. In preparing school-going children for one model of the future, do we not run the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy? I mean, if the entire cohort of school-going children within a nation is being prepared for one version of the future and not being encouraged to entertain other possibilities, will they not move inexorably toward that future? Should we not be tasking them with imagining the future of their choice and figuring out what they need to do in order to try to ensure that that model becomes a reality?

If we're going to be preparing kids for just one future and, in so doing, bringing that future into being, we'd better be damned sure it's one we all want!

2 comments:

V Yonkers said...

The difficult thing about the future is that you don't know where you've gone wrong for many years later. By then, students forget who taught them and instructors have already moved on to a "new future."

Karyn Romeis said...

@V_Yonkers This is true. And all the more reason why we need to present the possibility of a range of futures.