Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Teaching the Future

From the editorial in this month's International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning:
We teach history but do not require future studies. The tools of the futurist are basic to research and development, but the future affects everyone, and everyone is part of the future. Do you want to accept the future somebody else designs for you? Or do you want to be part of the process? You cannot change the past, but you can exercise a great deal of control over your own future and positively influence the future of your family, professional associates, communities, and students.
Courses in financial literacy and career planning get pooh-poohed in most schools, as if they couldn't possibly be as important as thermodynamics or calculus, even though the vast majority of students will be far more likely to be faced with real issues surrounding credit, mortgages, budgets, and career moves than they would be to require the use of advanced equations. I like this quote because it frames these things as future oriented activities. Should schools teach the future? Only if they can do it better than they've traditionally done with history.

Stephen Downes also has an excellent paper in the same issue, talking about learning objects and the future of education:
"What unfolds is not only a new way of understanding the future, but a new way of understanding the world itself, and for us, as educators, a means of doing what we must, of preserving and propagating the knowledge and values of the past (and we have to do it right – we only get one chance)."

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