Every few months, a fresh version of the well-known phrase “children are the future” makes its rounds in the news and on social media. But, what do we mean by that? From working as a futurist, I know that the future is messy, and from having a two-year old nephew, I know that children are messy too. However, the connection between children and the future does not stop there.
The shifting landscape on the horizon presents an interconnected web of social, technological, political, economic and environmental shifts. These changes are expected to exponentially impact the lived experiences of all young children and their families over the next ten years. However, these effects will not be distributed evenly. Therefore, as a society, we can no longer afford to overlook this highly influential, yet very underrepresented, segment of the population when making decisions that affect their futures. For better or worse, they are the protagonists of every story or image about the future that we can envision today.
Too often, we do not recognize how the profound social, economic and technological changes underway will reshape their lives and our very understanding of what it means to be a child. Foundations for Flourishing Futures: A Look Ahead for Children and Families will help leaders across sectors navigate that gap, understand their own work in new ways and do their part to ensure that every child and family can flourish in the future.
As in any story, we want the protagonists to succeed. However, the truth is that they cannot do it alone. Hence, the allies for young children and their families should look to the future ahead in an informed and rigorous way to support them in their adventures. Developed in partnership with and Capita, Foundations for Flourishing Futures: A Look Ahead for Young Children and Families forecasts a range of plausible futures that could unfold from the changes taking place today. It aims to support leaders from the diverse fields that interact with young children and their families in stretching their long-term thinking and creating informed visions for a flourishing society where all children can thrive. It also aims to seed meaningful partnerships and novel approaches to bringing those visions to life.
Over the last 14 years, KnowledgeWorks has published freely available strategic foresight content focused on education, successfully guiding schools, communities and districts to think proactively about the future and to take informed action. Strategic foresight is both a mindset and a set of tools for mapping the future. When used properly, it can help decision makers overcome emerging issues, embrace uncertainty, challenge basic assumptions and ultimately prepare for multiple scenarios and their implications.
A new era is unfolding in which exponential advances in digital technologies are causing us to reevaluate our relationships with one another, with our institutions and with ourselves. Navigating the Future of Learning illustrates objects, roles, places and practices that could exist in the future. It also highlights issues to watch and provides guidance for creating flourishing futures.
Building on this successful application of strategic foresight to education, Foundations for Flourishing Futures: A Look Ahead for Young Children and Families brings the discipline of strategic foresight to a new domain. Together, KnowledgeWorks and Capita are using it to raise awareness of issues impacting young children, build a platform of cross-sector stakeholders and support resources and partnerships that will inspire others to pursue a future where everyone can flourish. One focused particularly on children, because as you may have heard before: children are the future.