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Imagining Futures

for Liberatory Education

Combining the critical uncertainties leads to four scenarios that describe possibilities for anti-oppressive and liberatory education in 20 years. Scenarios can boost our collective imagination by putting shape to a range of future possibilities.

Basically, scenarios are stories about possible futures. They can help us question our assumptions about change, test how different future possibilities could play out and clarify what seems uncertain. Working with scenarios can help us ask informed questions about the future. These questions can deepen our conversations and can help us develop transformational strategies that get us closer to the future outcomes we want.

In describing possible futures for liberatory education, scenarios can offer a shared, imaginative space in which people can join together and learn about one another’s perspectives, hopes, fears and aspirations. These scenarios, along with the rest of this forecast’s content, can help us articulate what we do and do not want for the future. They can also help us consider where to focus our work to help make liberatory education a reality for every learner, educator, parent and community, particularly for those who have been historically marginalized yet resilient.

Scenarios for Liberatory Education

These four scenarios describe possibilities for anti-oppressive and liberatory education in 20 years. Click through the interactive chart for a longer description of each scenario, along with highlights that explain how three key dimensions show up: the status of liberatory education, power dynamics and the potential for liberatory education to spread. In addition, each scenario is accompanied by quotes from fictional personas who inhabit it, as well as by signals of change that illustrate how the possibilities described in the scenario are beginning to appear today.

Scenario A
Education Liberation Commons Grow at the Speed of Trust

Scenario A: Education Liberation Commons Grow at the Speed of Trust
Cohesive communities take the lead in designing teaching and learning systems that sustain anti-oppressive educational opportunities. They cultivate cooperative, community-based webs that curate and connect learning experiences rooted in critical consciousness and social action. These webs constitute educational liberation commons. They work around unresponsive public education systems that have maintained a narrow, singular focus on academic performance and have not embraced a systemic commitment to anti-oppressive strategies. Read More »

Scenario B: Care-Based Ecosystems Provide Vibrant Social Infrastructure
Local schools, communities and public institutions engage in healthy partnerships and dialogue circles to co-create culturally relevant learning experiences. Measures of success and quality assurance mechanisms are overhauled to support care-based learning ecosystems. These learning ecosystems ensure that each learner knows that they matter and can aspire to be their best self. Teaching in public schools has expanded to include a greater range and diversity of educator roles, knowledge frameworks and pedagogies. Read More »

Scenario C: Liberatory Education Thrives in Micro-Structures
Fractured public education systems are eroding under the constraints caused by climate change; a fearful, divisive society; and a relentless focus on helping learners meet the basic minimum graduation requirements set by each state. Vibrant liberatory learning, however, is not dead. It continues to thrive in shadow systems comprised of hyper-local, micro-educational structures that are organized around local affinity groups and informal social networks and which draw upon the wisdom of community elders. Tiny schools, learning collectives, student-led forums and other improvisational structures center liberation in learning experiences and promote pedagogies that focus on critical inquiry, action and deep relationships. Read More »

Scenario D: Economic-Driven Pathways Bypass Liberation
Taking the lead from employer councils, public education leaders orient their resource allocation and curriculum development around supporting designated career pathways and performance targets. Adaptive learning platforms proliferate, with some schools and teachers adding project-based and collaborative elements to enrich learning experiences. Data dashboards dictate and confine decision-making to align with performance targets. In the absence of systemic support for approaches that emphasize whole-child development, cultural relevance and critical inquiry, community debate and division rage around whose learning needs are being prioritized. Read More »

Two Critical Uncertainties

Questions about social cohesion and the responsiveness of public institutions will shape future possibilities

Up Next:

Chapter 4: Insights and Implications

Current tensions and dilemmas will impact the growth of liberatory education

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