Students are often asked about the future. Where are you going to college? What do you want to be when you grow up? They are not asked how the choices they make today, even as producers of change, can make a long-lasting impact even at the systems level.
Looking to the future is such an important action for society as a whole. Young people have ideas for how to fix some of the biggest problems we face and matched with their ability to have a no limits approach to how education and their larger world can be better. We just have to ask.
This past Spring, we partnered with KnowledgeWorks for Remake Learning Days. We brought in students from Youth Leading Change and took time to ask them about the future of learning in general, and the future of learning in Pittsburgh, specifically.
As an educator, the concept of focusing on the future of learning is new. My biggest insight in working with KnowledgeWorks is that it is necessary to the process. The classroom is a space of innovation and inquiry, both of which are necessary ingredients for preparing students for the future.
Getting students rooted into an orientation that looks at the future, and their place in the future, allows for amazing experiences in the present that begin to slowly transform the very things that we need to change about our humanity. At the root of social justice is the idea that we want to change the future for our most oppressed in society. By turning our student and educational spaces towards the future we can truly change our lives for the better.
The KnowledgeWorks team produced The Future of Learning in the Pittsburgh Region, an adaptation of the Forecast 4.0, The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code that was specific to the Pittsburgh region. This localized forecast is helpful in understanding what is available for families – and what the future of learning looks like in the Pittsburgh region. As a teacher educator, I believe in the power of community – school – home partnerships that advance learning for all students. The map showcases programs, such as Youth Leading Change, that are at the forefront of learning and show the possibility that is the future of learning.
The map serves as a tool that teachers and families can use to further the learning that happens in school and out of school.
The future of learning is bigger than just learning. It is the future. So much of our educational experience as educators and students is about the past and the present. We are steeped in old traditions in education that do not fit in with a new generation of students. To not focus on the future is a misstep.
Students represent the future and placing them in the driver’s seat for communicating with adults about the future of learning is the right first step for transforming education.