Using future studies to prepare students for life after school

Using future studies to prepare students for life after school

As a student and even into adulthood I really had no concept of the future that I wanted for myself. Coming from a futurist, that may seem a bit odd. Thankfully, after a lot of exploring, I found something that I am highly passionate about and the feeling of being lost eventually went away.

Many people, especially – and tragically – many of our young learners, also lack a vision of the future for themselves. This can and should change, and our education system can be a vehicle for exploring the future and helping to foster learners’ aspirational vision of what they may want from their lives after school.

Dr. Peter Bishop’s Teach the Future initiative is aimed at bringing the future into our schools by introducing foresight to middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the country. Students will learn how to anticipate and influence the future in a world of rapidly accelerating change. Or to put it another way, students will learn how to think about the future and then act decisively to create it.

Bringing foresight into our schools has another benefit beyond thinking about the future; it has the ability to change the learning cultures of our institutions. Katherine Prince, in her paper “Innovating Toward a Vibrant Learning Ecosystem : Ten Pathways for Transforming Learning, highlighted learning cultures as one of the 10 pathways that are critical to transforming our current system of education. A vibrant learning culture is, according to Katherine, one where “…approaches go beyond simply pacing learning to each individual; they cultivate inquiry, creativity, play, and other attributes that support people in following their interests in meaningful collaborative contexts. Some learning cultures extend beyond formal learning environments to include, or facilitate connections with, community-based or informal learning experiences.”

Futures thinking can contribute to vibrant learning cultures. Thinking about the future teaches us to relish what we do not know yet encourages us to find out more, to become comfortable with uncertainty, and to fearlessly explore ideas and areas of study we may not have considered otherwise.

As a young learner who had no concept of his own future, I hope you will consider joining me in support of Teach the Future.  As a futurist, I know how powerful these methods are and how potentially transformative they can be for all levels, from the young learner to the education system in need of systemic change.

Jason Swanson

Written by: Jason Swanson

Jason Swanson is the Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks. He has a strong passion for studying the future and believes that studying the future is empowering.

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