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Futures in education

Bateman, Debra, Gidley, Jennifer and Smith, Caroline 2006, Futures in education, Professional educator, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 14-20.

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Title Futures in education
Author(s) Bateman, Debra
Gidley, Jennifer
Smith, Caroline
Journal name Professional educator
Volume number 5
Issue number 1
Start page 14
End page 20
Publisher Australian College of Educators
Place of publication Deakin West, A.C.T.
Publication date 2006-03
ISSN 1447-3607
Keyword(s) curriculum design
curriculum development
curriculum enrichment
futures (of society)
student attitudes
student beliefs
student interests
student motivation
student needs
teaching innovations
primary secondary education
Summary Futures education (FE) in a rapidly changing world is critical if young people are to be empowered to be proactive rather than reactive about the future. Research into young people's images and ideas of the future lead to the disturbing conclusion that, for many, the future is a depressing and fearful place where they feel hopeless and disempowered. On the other hand, as Richard Slaughter writes, 'young people are passionately interested in their own futures, and that of the society in which they live. They universally 'jump at the chance to study something with such intrinsic interest that also intersects with their own life interests in so many ways'. FE explicitly attempts to build on this interest and counter these fears by offering a profound and empowering set of learning strategies and ideas that can help people think and act critically and creatively about the future, without necessarily trying to predict it. Futures educators have, over the past decades, developed useful tools, ideas and a language for use with students of all ages to enable them to develop foresight literacy. Most of us tend to view the future as somehow beyond the present and rarely consider how decisions and choices made today profoundly affect not just one fixed future but any number of futures. The underlying goal of FE is to move from the idea of a single, pre-determined future to that of many possible futures, so that students begin to see that they can determine the future, that they need not be reactive and that they are not powerless. How does one do that? Ideas include, but are not limited to: timelines and Y-diagrams, futures wheels and mind maps, and 'Preferable, possible and probable' futures - a.k.a. the 3Ps. Current Australian curricula present education about the future in various implicit or explicit guises. A plethora of statements and curriculum outcomes mention the future, but essentially take 'it' for granted, and are uninformed by FE literature, language, ideas or tools. Science, the humanities and technology tend to be the main areas where such an implicit futures focus can be found. It also appears in documents about vocational education, civics and lifelong learning. Explicit FE is, as Beare and Slaughter put it, still the missing dimension in education. Explicit FE attempts to develop futures literacy, and draws widely upon futures studies literature for processes and content. FE provides such a wide range of ideas and tools that it can be incorporated into education in any number of ways. Programs in two very different schools, one primary and one secondary, are described in this article to provide examples of some of these ways. The first school, Kimberley Park State Primary School in Brisbane, operates with multi-age classrooms based on a 'thinking curriculum' developed around four organisers: change, perspectives, interconnectedness and sustainability. The second school, St John's Grammar School in Adelaide, is an independent school where FE operates as an integrated approach in Year Seven, as a separate one-semester subject in Year Nine and in separate subjects at other levels. Teachers both at Kimberley Park and St John's are very positive about FE. They say it promotes valuable and authentic learning, assists students to realise they have choices that matter and helps them see that the future need not be all doom and gloom. Because students are interested in the Big Questions, as one teacher put it, FE provides a perfect opportunity to address them, and to consider values that are fundamental for them and the future of the planet. Like any innovation, the long-term success of FE in schools depends on an embedding process so that the innovation does not depend on the enthusiasm and energy of a few individuals, only to disappear when they move on. It requires strong leadership, teacher knowledge, support and enthusiasm, and the support and understanding of the wider school community.
Language eng
Field of Research 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C3 Non-refereed articles in a professional journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30013468

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Education
Higher Education Research Group
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