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Exploring the Future of Learning with Students in Pittsburgh

Topics: Community Partnerships, Emerging Trends, Future of Learning

The KnowledgeWorks strategic foresight team worked with The Remake Learning Council and Youth Leading Change in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to explore the future of learning with students.Guest post by Mary Tighe

“Who here has had a class in history?” KnowledgeWorks Director of Strategic Foresight Jason Swanson asked a room full of middle and high schoolers.

All hands shot into the air.

“Who has had a class in the future?”

Questionably, students looked around the room at their peers.

“We’re all going to live in the future, but none of us are going to go back to the past. It becomes really important to think about what comes next and how we can shape the future to be what we want.”

The KnowledgeWorks strategic foresight team spent a rainy spring day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Remake Learning Days, a weeklong, community-wide event to showcase what makes the Pittsburgh region a national leader in teaching and learning. The event was organized by Remake Learning.

During Remake Learning Days, the team facilitated a workshop about the future of learning with Youth Leading Change, a local organization that promotes the action of youth and teachers as reformers and agents of change. The workshop allowed local students to learn about the future by considering the past.

While Jason, KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Strategic Foresight Katherine Prince, and Teach the Future Deputy Director Katie King worked with the students, I hovered throughout the room, taking photos to document the day. The workshop encouraged students to think about the past, present day and the future, while placing post-it notes on a wall-size timeline from 1900 to 2025.

Seeing students empowered to think about the good and not-so-good possibilities for the future was amazing. Unlike adults, they don’t have pre-conceived notions or censors about what the future could be in 2025.

I left Pittsburgh with new hope, thanks to these students and their aspirational futures. If they’re shaping our future, it will undoubtedly be bright.