What do students really need to know?
Teaching the Future in Schools is a workshop that makes a case for educators to introduce futures thinking in their classrooms and curricula. This session shares two lists of learning objectives for everyone and invites feedback and discussion from those participating in the virtual gathering.
Educators have been preparing graduate students for successful careers as foresight professionals for more than 40 years. Beginning with University of Hawaii at Manoa and University of Houston, more than a dozen universities offer some form of foresight degree. Consequently, academics and experts have published journals and books and launched associations, certificate courses, and professional development seminars.
All of this work, however, is directed at adults. Says Bishop, “That’s not wrong; they surely need to understand how to navigate an uncertain future. But who is missing? Of course, young people. Who is talking to secondary school and college students about the future, their future? Almost no one. So Teach the Future was formed to encourage and support educators to introduce futures thinking in their classes and schools around the world.”
Focus of Teaching the Future in Schools
Peter Bishop (Teach the Future) and foresight collaborator David Bengston (with the US Forest Service) believe that there are some propositions and skills that everyone needs to know, rather than the methods and tools that we teach in graduate school. (Editors note: Bishop retired as an Associate Professor of Strategic Foresight and Director of the graduate program in Foresight at the University of Houston).
Bishop questioned the foresight teaching protocol, “It has been fairly easy to decide what to teach—i.e., an easier version of what we have been teaching graduate students—but is that right? Does every student in the world need to be proficient in scanning, trend extrapolation, scenario development, visioning and strategic planning, to name just a few of the processes and skills necessary for being a successful futurist?”
Bishop and Bengston have come to understand that that the answer to that question is No. They concede that “while those would be fine to know, it is not necessary that they engage in a junior version of a Master’s degree to prepare them to anticipate and influence the future.”
Says Bishop, “David Bengston and I believe there are some propositions and skills that everyone needs to know, rather than the methods and tools that we teach in graduate school. These propositions and skills are what graduate students and foresight professionals realize as they learn the methods, why not just skip the methods the takeaways directly through instruction and examples?”