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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Preparing for the Future

I am currently in the USA at the Future Problem Solving International competition.

Dr Peter Bishop Director of the Graduate Program in Future Studies at the University of Houston spoke at the opening of the Future Problem Solving International Competition in La Crosse Wisconsin last night (local time) and made some thought provoking comments. In front of the 2400 young people who had qualified to represent their state or country, and their coaches (and some parents), he proposed that EVERY child should be studying the future. The young people who have embraced FPS are fortunate in that they have a chance to consider issues and solutions to problems their world may face and to be able to potentially influence the future, not only their own. But we know this is not the case for every child.

Dr Bishop recounted how throughout his study towards a series of degrees in various fields, his teachers never mentioned the future, which he pointed out was perhaps is not surprising considering that their teachers never mentioned it to them.

If you ask teachers, they will tell you their role is to prepare students for the future, yet at school we study the past (history) but it is rare to consider studying the future. History is without a doubt important, but the pace of change is accelerating and it is becoming increasingly difficult to adequately apply lessons from the past to the future. Now more than at any other time in the past is it important to be forward looking.

We know that the fate of the world will be in the hands of our young people.We know that every child will live their lives in the future (as we will). It seems important that they develop the skills of critical and creative thinking, of evaluating ideas and working with others across disciplines as they prepare for a future we can not even imagine. Dr Bishop proposed that teaching about the future should be part of the regular curriculum in every classroom and school. If the array of possible outcomes imagined by groups of students who completed the Global Issues booklets today is anything to go by, our future can only be better for wide exposure to future based thinking.

If you would like to hear more of Dr Peter Bishop's ideas, there are several You Tube presentations which may be of interest. (sorry, I don't seem to be able to post links from my iPad but if you search Dr Peter Bishop futurist there is part 1 and Part 2 of a presentation worth watching. Links will hopefully be in the next newsletter, or maybe on Facebook)

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