Systems Change, Meet Futures Thinking

Topics: Future of Learning

Tomorrow conversations, facilitated by Remake Learning Field Director Ani Martinez and KnowledgeWorks Director of Strategic Foresight Jason Swanson, feature some of the most forward-thinking leaders in teaching, learning and technology. In “Tomorrow, with Katherine Prince,” Martinez and Swanson discussed the relevance of futures thinking with Katherine Prince, KnowledgeWorks’ vice president of strategic foresight.

Futures thinking is rooted in the academic discipline of strategic foresight. While exploring the future of teaching and learning, we acknowledged that young people are experiencing exponential social and technological change. One goal of futures thinking in the sphere of education is to encourage education stakeholders to strategize about how to become active agents of change in shaping the future.

Some of the questions raised in this conversation were:

  • What will tomorrow bring?
  • What will young people need so that they will flourish in a future of unknown possibilities?
  • How can we prepare children and youth for what’s next while staying grounded in what’s timeless?
  • What can we do today to make tomorrow a more promising place for all learners?

“The inequities that have been present in our education systems and in society for a long time, and probably forever, have been thrown into the foreground by the dual pandemics.”

Katherine Prince
Vice President of Strategic Foresight, KnowledgeWorks

In conversation, the three discussed some of the ideas that systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted are:

  • The relationship between equality, equity and justice
  • The distinction between formal learning and out of school time
  • The increased importance of social emotional learning
  • The inability of assessment and accountability systems to function
  • Parent engagement in education
  • Innovation in confined spaces
  • A historic opportunity in education to fill the need of radically democratizing educational change making and decision making.

“We’re watching our education system fight against the assumption that it can be slow to change and start to innovate in very interesting ways to meet learners needs.”

Jason Swanson
Director of Strategic Foresight

The change process is a very individualized process, and the numbers of people involved in education changemaking are vast. Our educational cultures are not very oriented toward risk taking, but we’ve started to see more appetite for innovation, especially now. The ownership of education is also being contested, as discussed. Education should be owned by the education stakeholders, students and communities being served by the education systems. Teachers are returning to a school year with immense public support and new opportunities to be a fierce advocate for the future they desire.

Watch the enlightening episode below.

Did you miss our other appearance on Tomorrow? Watch Anne Olson’s episode on the future of education policy and advocacy.