Teach the future teachers

  Teach the Future's Erica Bol in action during a Future Week at Windesheim university.

Teach the Future's Erica Bol in action during a Future Week at Windesheim university.

TTF is always on the look-out for collaborations. In the Netherlands we’ve teamed up with The Teachers College of Windesheim Flevoland University of Applied Science. They are educating students to become teachers themselves. Read more on how they are integrating futures thinking into the classroom and try to inspire the young teachers to take ownership of their own future and the future of education.

We interviewed Marcel Staring, an educational developer and teacher at Windesheim, just after he finished their project ‘Futures Week’:

Become a teacher artist

“At Windesheim we have a regular teachers program and an Teachers College, the latter being a more open and innovative approach in teacher education which guides students in becoming ‘teacher artists’. Our main focus in that program is to stimulate aspiring teachers to be curious and to get to know their own teacher identity. It is less formal in following strict learning objectives or testing in a fixed way. As a student at the Teacher College you are challenged to take a broad perspective on education as well as society and focus on a combination of people, planet and prosperity. It’s the perfect program to introduce futures thinking in and it relates to developing 21st century skills too.”

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Education is lagging behind

“Futures thinking is important to integrate into our curriculum because our society changes faster and faster and our education system is always lagging behind. In the Netherlands there have been so many changes over the past 50 years but what happens in our classrooms is still relatively the same. Futures thinking helps you to see the role of education within a societal framework. It also stimulates you to be more aware of your own future thoughts and your perception of your own role in the future. Teaching the future helps our students to feel more ownership in their own professional development.”

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Creating discomfort is key

“We have recently organised a Futures Week together with Erica Bol of Teach the Future Europe. During this week we mixed students from our regular teachers program with those of our Teachers College and also from different year groups to get the creative juices flowing and get them out of their comfort zone. We started off with exploring societal trends and developments, trying to understand why these are happening and explore future scenarios. Our Teacher College students are more used to this type of thinking than our students from the regular program, so these felt quite uncomfortable.

The next session however made our Teacher College students a bit more uneasy because it zoomed in on the realistisch implications, challenges and threats of scenarios in the educational domain. While getting more concrete and practical was more in-tune with the mindset of the students from the regular program, who also had more practical experience because they are in a higher year group. This cross-pollination was an experiment for us as organisers, but it turned out very well and it got discussions to a higher level.”

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Creating a future roadmap

We finished the Future Week with scenarios presentations and stimulating students to think about their own preferred future and how to get there. They brainstormed on practical ideas and actions to take to reach their preferred futures. For example, create a poster with statements about the future of education to hang inside schools to provoke a discussion or finding a way of discussing the future of education within school team gatherings.”

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The added value of Teach the Future

“I met the European Teach the Future director, Erica Bol, by accident and we seemed to have a lot in common in our ways of thinking about education and change. Teach the Future brings in a lot of knowledge with regards to futures thinking in our program which really has improved it a lot. We also profit from Teach the Future’s international network and alliances, such as with UNESCO. We are now on our way to become a UNESCO certified program."

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Educational change needs guts

“I’ve experienced that having a school organisation that provides trust and room for experiment is crucial in any educational innovation process. They should be open for discussions and recognise the importance of continuous educational development. A school board should have the guts to initiate pilots where failure is not final. If they are too rigid and stuck to the old ways of working, it will be really hard to open the dialogue on change and get things going.”

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A future with more focus on personal development

“We are now integrating futures thinking in a more continuous way throughout our curriculum at the Teacher College. My ideal future of education would be less focus on rigid testing procedures and learning facts and figures. Education has been made a quantifiable environment. I would love to have a future where there is more focus on the personal development of students, which is not easily quantified and fit the school system more to their personal needs. Because school should be there for their pupils, not the other way around.”

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Interview and blogpost by Els Dragt