How might we build our capacity to both imagine and create futures that are the futures that we really want to see coming about
Professor of Educational & Social Futures
Our conceptualization of how the world works and our narrative about the future sets the direction for the development of society. At present, these ideas are still not very disruptive and the most common narrative about the future is that we will have continued economic growth with some inequalities – inequalities that the continued economic growth can solve. Even though we do talk of the rapid development of artificial intelligence, climate change and demographic shifts, these changes are not really a part of the general narrative about societal development.
Education is always shaped by assumptions about the future. In education the narrative about the future is largely created by big tech companies, according to Keri Facer. They have the networks and power to create the blueprint for what education should be all about. Which is why digital literacy is so much more talked about than e.g. the demographic shift.
She describes her work within the field of Educational Futures as looking upon these narratives and ideas and question the assumptions on which they are built. She also wants us to question who should be involved in creating the ideas about what might happen in the future. We might need to challenge the business dominance and treat education more like a process that is important in its own right, not just to serve future business interests. In her work she does also invite people from diverse backgrounds to bring in their perspectives and discuss what the future might have in store.
We highly recommend you to watch this video:
“How might we build our capacity to both imagine and create futures that are the futures that we really want to see coming about?’’ – is one of my favourite quotes from the video. It is so important to realise that our present level of understanding and our vision of the future controls the present, our choices and decisions. So we need to think new thoughts and dream big dreams.
Keri Facer’s work also resonates with our work in Teal School to change school systems from their current dominant industrial model to meet the needs of humans today. The following three values of Teal are the very progress we need: Evolutionary Purpose, Self Management and Wholeness.
What professor Facer concludes is that we need to be prepared for a multitude of possible futures. This doesn’t mean we can’t trust megatrends or hard facts, but that our world is so interconnected that it is impossible to calculate all consequences of each change – the world is no longer just complicated, it is complex. And to handle complex problems and development we need to set a direction but always keep an eye on what is changing alongside it. Probing, sensing and responding, while staying true to our core values and principles. To me this sounds like a description of working with Evolutionary purpose in an agile way.
The current way the narrative unfolds is not serving an evolutionary process, and by not following an evolutionary process we are actually limiting the possible future outcomes. Evolutionary purpose asks us to take the responsibility to be in tune with what is unfolding in our societies and ask the question: How do we address this? whether it’s aging population, artificial intelligence or climate challenges.
Since the complexity is present on all levels from society to individuals, this also means we should have the approach in education to develop students’ capabilities to think with a wider perspective, to know their core values and purpose, and to be adaptable and prepared for a number of outcomes, both in their own life and in our global society as a whole.
Self management I believe will enable the drive for remaining in tune with the evolutionary purpose. As it frees the human beings within organisations to be the sensors of what is happening through various lenses. Therefore demanding that we sit up and listen to what our responses should be, on all levels. If we create organisations that are networks of self-managed teams it should be easy to see those teams and networks being connected to other teams outside of the organisation. What binds together is the common cause and purpose, whether it is a business, governmental organisation or NGO. This is a development that could mean a drastically different approach to societal, complex and “wicked” problems. And it would most definitely mean moving us away from the idea of everlasting economic growth, from competition and large inequalities, which is of course harming us and our planet.
Wholeness is essential for us to stay grounded, to be in tune with ourselves and that which I believe unites us, our humanity. Actively putting practices into place in schools as organisations not just for children but for the adults within them will lead to more psychologically safe environments. Schools which commit to promoting positive mental health for all. The spontaneous reflexivity that Keri mentions in the talk, which could be seen as a psychological adaptability based in reflective self-awareness – that she means will be a capability needed more than ever in the future – should certainly be more developed in learners in a Teal school than a traditional school because of how the wholeness practices encourages reflection on feelings, thoughts and behaviour.
We are happy to see that research is being done in this area and welcome the emergence of a new narrative. We hope to be a part of that.
Shabana & Sarah
Do watch the video and share anything that resonates with you. What’s happening in your school now? What is the mandate for learning? Where is your focus? What are your thoughts on social and educational future?