The Summer of Futures

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Sharing our 2017 Summer

New programs, new products, new connections for students and teachers:

  • Our new playbook and curriculum have been successfully road tested. 
  • Our IMPACT games arrived! Want one for your classroom? Apply here
  • Exciting new connections and ideas were discovered at the DDT Conference in Europe. 

 

Peter Bishop on the Houston Summer of Futures:

I’m standing in front of Quail Valley Middle School on a warm July morning watching dozens of cars turn into the school. Each vehicle is bringing a middle school student to the Houston Summer of Futures, a futures camp created by Teach the Future. The Houston Summer is the first major initiative in partnership with school districts around Houston and Dallas.

Teach the Future has been operating officially for two and half years, and informally for almost 10. The first version was based at the University of Houston and offered five teacher workshops and one summer camp around 2010. The current version began in 2013 when I retired from the University and more specifically when Teach the Future, Inc. was formed in January 2015. Since then, Teach the Future raised money through crowd funding to pay teachers to build a Library of materials for teaching the future.  

Another group of donors contributed money this year to develop The Futures Thinking Playbook for middle school students, which is now being finalized by Katie King and Julia Rose West. The book contains a coherent process, appropriate for middle school students, for choosing a topic to investigate, doing research on trends in that topic, and writing creative stories about the expected future and about a ‘What if?’ future that could happen instead. The book is the basis for the four-day summer camp. The teacher-facilitators for the camps provided invaluable feedback for the book which will be available for sale in the Fall.


The partnership with the three school districts began with a day-long teacher workshop on tools and techniques for teaching the future in their classes. A subset of those teachers took two additional days of training to learn to facilitate the four-day summer camp. In total, 185 teachers took the one-day course; 18 teachers took the facilitation training, and 12 of them facilitated two camps that served 160 middle school students. In fact, the facilitators and administrators involved in the camps are asking for more discussions about how they can adapt and use this material in their regular curriculum.

Evaluations conducted at the end of each segment showed that teachers and students were very glad to have taken the training and attended the summer camp. All the comments were good. Here are few selected ones: 

  • Futures thinking teaches learners to more readily accept differences of opinion…and perspectives, and be able to communicate and thoughtfully debate these divergent outcomes amongst themselves and their peers...
  • The most rewarding training I have honestly been to. I have received activities and items I can use in my class for years to come.
  • Teach the Future has given me great materials to use in my class throughout the year. The material can be used in any subject or grade level.
  • Love the design of the day! I would also "advertise" this as giving educators tools that they can use over and over with GT learners as they teach for depth and complexity.

Students echoed the teachers’ comments. The activities they liked best were researching their topic, asking “what if?” questions, writing creative stories, and imagining themselves as superheroes who solve major problems in the future.

Students also summarized what they learned in the form of several fundamental truths –

  • I need to follow my future or the future I want.  
  • Every choice you make changes the future.
  • All things have positive and negative effects.
  • I will always remember the story that I wrote with the drawings.
  • It is good to look at things using two perspectives because the future could play out many different ways.

So Teach the Future now has a portfolio of proven products and services that districts and teachers can use to introduce futures thinking to their classes and schools. And we will continue to develop workshops and materials to use with K-12 learners.

But of course, we did not do this by ourselves. So our thanks to the 2015 donors who helped us build the Library and to this year’s donors who contributed the money to write the book. Thanks also to the team who made the Houston Summer of Futures successful:  

  • Dr. Lue Bishop who developed and taught the one-day teacher workshop,
  • Katie King and Julia Rose West who wrote and designed a rigorous, yet friendly approach to the future which Katie turned into an outstanding training session for camp facilitators,
  • Sandy Damashek who contributed her expertise in children’s media, and Sarah Rebar who crafted outstanding illustrations.

And most of all, our deepest thanks to the district administrators and teachers at Fort Bend, Spring Branch and Coppell Independent School Districts who took the risk to partner with us to bring the future to their teachers and students: You are all pioneers of change, and you have our deepest respect and gratitude.

IMPACT Games Ready for Classrooms

 

Teach the Future is pleased to announce that Idea Couture, a futures design studio in Toronto, has donated copies of their new foresight game to be distributed to educators who are teaching the future. Teachers can go to our website at www.teachthefuture.org/impact to register for the drawing. 

Successful first Teach the Future Europe gathering in Antwerp, Belgium

Erica Bol (on the right in this photo with another attendee) at the DDT Conference. 

Teach the Future had its first live gathering in Europe at the DDT Conference in June. The Erasmus University of Applied Science in Brussels held this unique conference on the future last month. Maya Van Leemput, a researcher at the University, staged a three-day, two-city conference on four future scenarios developed by Jim Dator who established the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies in Honolulu. Teach the Future and the Association of Professional Futurists were co-sponsors of this conference which began in Brussels with a keynote by Dator who exquisitely described his four futures. The conference then moved to Antwerp and the M HKA, a museum with an art exhibit representing the four futures. (The exhibition is still there until September 17thif you would like to see it yourself). Teach the Future was well represented with Peter Bishop from the U.S. and Erica Bol from Teach the Future EU making presentations. Erica’s colleagues, Monica Veeger and Talisa Ong, also led an experiential exercise on the future of education. Thank you to all who were there and help us bring futures thinking into classrooms all over Europe.

New Ventures from Teach the Future

New projects, new reasons to get involved

  • Recruit high schoolers to join our new 'design the future' competition
  • Support our advocates: Joe Sears and Chris Bishop
  • Learn how to Teach the Future in Amsterdam
  • Enter to win an IMPACT game to train your class in futures thinking
  • Help fund our Futures Thinking Playbook
  • Spread the word about the Summer of Futures
  • Try the teaching materials in our upgraded library 
  • Hear how our road-tested library materials are inspiring teachers
  • See our team growing stronger. 

High School Design Competition

Please help us spread the word to U.S.-based high school students to enjoy fun and prizes in our “Imagine Future Ed” online design competition, running now until March 27. By sharing this news and encouraging participation, kids age 13 to 18 will develop valuable skills while completing one or more of the activities.

Our co-sponsor, KnowledgeWorks, is a foundation that partners with school districts to drive the growth of personalized learning and provide national thought leadership around the future of learning. They support Teach The Future frequently in reaching students and teachers in the classroom. Please show them some appreciation on Facebook.   Learn more and sign up here.

Follow our Advocates

At the National Council of Social Science conference, Joe Sears (pictured left at Emery Weiner High School in Houston) stepped up with a presentation based on his TTF Library contribution: “The Next Chapter in World History.” Follow him at @TheTweetofSears. Shout out to David Staley for getting us on the agenda at NCSS. 

Chris Bishop (pictured right) blew open the minds of students and teachers at the Texas STEAM Summit in January. Specializing in ‘jobs of the future,’ Chris helps kids imagine jobs that don’t yet exist. That made him the ideal headliner for this event. Chris has had seven different careers in his life (so far, at least!). Keep up with his emerging career at @ChrisBishop

Amsterdam Teachers' Workshop

If you want to teach a growth mindset, futures thinking is something you can use--in any class (history, social sciences, or languages), addressing all sorts of topics (sustainability, technology, career development) at all educational levels. Teach the Future is organizing a two-day course for innovative teachers. Experts will explain how to integrate futures thinking in your class materials and give you tools and techniques.

When: Friday March 24th and April 7th 2017 (09:30 – 17:00)
Where: The Netherlands (in Dutch)
Cost: 450 euro per day
Register on EventBrite
More info: Erica Bol, erica@teachthefuture.org, +31 6 44 58 48 43

IMPACT games for classrooms

Thanks to Idea Couture’s successful Kickstarter campaign, Teach the Future will be receiving 25 copies of the IMPACT board game to distribute to educators who want to stimulate their students to think about the future of work. If you are interested in applying for a copy, read about eligibility and sign up at our web site: https://www.teachthefuture.org/impact

We need a Playbook for Futures Thinking

Our educators have requested a resource that can boost them and their students through the challenge of thinking about futures, a fun and engaging tool to support young people’s creative and critical thinking. Inspired by the WagiLabs Playbook, we contacted creator Chic Thompson, and the first lesson we have learned from him is that we cannot develop such a learning platform alone.

Although we know how to teach, we will also need experts in other disciplines if we hope to make our playbook a compelling inspiration to study foresight. We have recruited Sandy Damashek, who worked at The Children's Television Workshop (Sesame Street), Julia Rose West, who co-authored What the Foresight, and Sarah Rebar, an illustrator who will make our ideas latch into the imagination.

Help us make this leap into the next level of education innovation by funding this project at Start Some Good. You can become a classroom sponsor or an advocate with a cool lapel pin. 

The Summer of Futures

To help teenagers think more effectively about the future when making decisions, Teach The Future has launched the Summer of Futures for high-school students. This program has three phases:

  1. Starting now, administrators can schedule a 6-hour course for teachers of GT (Gifted and Talented) students. All participants learn how to integrate a lesson on ‘futures thinking’ into their classes, whatever the subject. 
  2. After completing the 6-hour course, teachers may sign up for a 2-day workshop which prepares them to conduct a 5-day student workshop. Teachers will be paid for their time, certified for “Futures Thinking” instruction, and eligible to work in the Summer of Futures program. 
  3. During the summer, high-school students will gather in our 5-day workshops to learn how to think about different ways the future could unfold as well as their possible roles. Students will be able to select topics and issues which they see as important to their future. 

Want to participate? Know someone who should? We have brochures and flyers and entry forms. Just contact Peter Bishop, peter@teachthefuture.org

Try some of the fast-loading, road-tested teaching materials in our library

The Teach the Future Library is now faster and easier to use with selections on the navigation bar that automatically filters items with one click.  Jump on and see how easy it is to find and download your favorite lessons. Our recent survey of subscribers turned up many happy experiences:

  • "Keep this resource alive. Having a source to go to that gives you foundational material is extremely helpful."
  • "Every time I go to the resource page, I find something that I want to try."
  • "Thanks for sharing such great materials for free. If you add to or enhance them in the future, please let me know."

Visit and see for yourself:  http://library.teachthefuture.org/

Our Library Materials Inspire Teachers

Last month, we sent out a survey to everyone who has downloaded materials from Teach the Future's library. We wanted to understand what worked for these earliest adopters and what we can do better in the future. The respondents were split about 50/50 between higher education and K-12, and about two-thirds of them were teachers or instructors.

What did we learn from them? Let's start with the good news:

  • About two-thirds of respondents said they were "extremely" or "very" satisfied with the material they downloaded. No one said they were unsatisfied.
  • Ninety percent of respondents said they were likely to use the material again or teach other lessons about the future.

Those data points are uplifting, but they only represent those respondents who had used the materials they downloaded. About half of respondents had downloaded but not yet used the material with their students. We also learned that nearly half of those who had used the materials said they modified them "moderately" or "significantly." Learn more. 

Katie King and Lue Bishop on our team

The Teach the Future Board is happy to announce that they have appointed Katie King as the new Deputy Director of Teach the Future. Katie has been with Teach the Future from the beginning. She graduated Magna cum Laude from the USC Annenberg School of Communication, spent three years as project manager in a large non-profit in California, two years teaching middle school language arts in Houston with Teach for America, and another three years teaching in California.

Dr. Lue Bishop comes to Teach the Future with more than 40 years teaching and administrative experience in public and private schools. She earned her Master of Science in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1982 and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Houston in 1994. She will be responsible for teacher training and development on futures thinking beginning with the GT 6-hour update and the Summer of Futures in 2017.

The Third Quarter 2016 Newsletter

Table of Contents

  • Impact Game on Kickstarter – Help us support Idea Couture. 
  • A New Game for School Kids – Teach foresight today in any secondary school classroom. 
  • New Web Site, New Workshops, A New Foresight Program – Don't miss out.

Practice thinking critically and imaginatively about the future with IMPACT designed by Idea Couture. 

Practice thinking critically and imaginatively about the future with IMPACT designed by Idea Couture. 

Big Impact for giving to this Kickstarter if you can act TODAY. 

Idea Couture, a design consultancy in Toronto, is completing a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of a new game they have developed called IMPACT, a foresight board game that teaches players to think critically and imaginatively about emerging technology and the future of society.

The campaign has already reached its goal but continues until Sat, Oct 1. So there is still time to participate.  What is more, Idea Couture has pledged to donate five board games to Teach the Future for every extra $1,000 they receive.  Teach the Future will distribute these games free of charge to teachers who are teaching the future.

So go to Kickstarter and enter your pledge.  And tell your friends and colleagues that they can support Teach the Future and the teachers and students who will receive these game by entering their pledge as well.

Help the Kickstarter NOW!


IMAGINE: a foresight game for secondary school students

Based on her work with students this summer, Katie King has developed her own game called IMAGINE.  Thinking about the future is actually not that hard for students, but doing it well requires some structure and some practice.  IMAGINE provides the structure.  The result is a mini-scenario, a short description of an alternative future that foresight educators call the kernel, the logic or the pitch.  Students begin by reviewing or finding major trends in the world.  Then they brainstorm the consequences of one of those trends using a futures wheel.  The results of all that work goes into a Mad Lib-style worksheet where the last section is the scenario.  Teachers call this approach scaffolding, providing the pathway or the scaffold to achieve a given result.  Scaffolding is extremely important for students to learn the skills associated with foresight, not just ideas about the future. 

The game was introduced to the futures community at a demonstration in the 12-hour online Futures Festival sponsored by the Association of Professional Futurists on Friday, Sept 16.  Teach the Future Board member Chris Bishop briefed the participants on Teach the Future, and Katie led them in a quick version of the game.

Katie also conducted an after-school workshop for 50 students at Travis High School in Richmond TX, a city outside Houston, last week.  The workshop was the first use of the game in a real educational environment.  Students got the point that multiple explanations and consequences of change (scenarios) are usually better than arguing about which explanation or scenario is the ‘right’ one.  One student said, “We should think about possible futures because we are the next leaders of the future.  We need to know the possibilities of what could happen.”

More details of the game are available on our Blog.


See our New Web Site at www.TeachTheFuture.Org

You will notice a big change when you click on the Teach the Future website.  The previous site supported our fund raising campaign last year very well, but it was not as informative as it could be.  So Katie King took the initiative to create a site that tells our story in a simpler, more straightforward way.  All the same features are there: a video explaining how we teach the future, starter kits and lessons and activities in the Teach the Future Library, blogs and the chance to subscribe to our newsletter.  So check it out! 


Workshops, workshops

Katie King has been busy this summer.  Last year, she and Peter Bishop conducted a futures workshop for high school students at the World Future Society meeting in San Francisco last year.  This year Katie has developed and conducted three high school workshops.  The first was in Pittsburgh for Youth Leading Change during a week-long event called Remake Learning

The second was a 10-day workshop in Emeryville CA sponsored by Institute for STEM Education, an office of California State University-East Bay.  Katie led students through an extensive exercise to develop a future scenario in the first half of the workshop.  Then students turned their scenarios into a video game with the help of Jateen Bhakta, a local game developer.

You can find more details about each of these workshops on our Blog


San Diego City College associates the future

After many years of tirelessly working with the California Postsecondary Education Commission, Jelena Cingel Bodinet has finally received permission to offer an Associate’s degree in Futures Studies at San Diego City College.  This degree is the first Associate’s degree in foresight and futures studies that we know of.  Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a trend.  Congratulations, Jelena!


Up and coming

Nov 13-16, Global Education Conference

iEARN promotes global education by connecting students and teachers from different countries on joint projects.  They also sponsor the Global Education Conference, a week-long online event running 24/7 around the world.  Teach the Future will present our work on Mon, Nov 16 at 10 am Central Time (1600 GMT).  Appearing on the panel will be Peter Bishop, Executive Director; Erica Bol, Director of Teach the Future EU; Katie King, Curator of the Teach the Future Library, and Samantha Cocco-Klein from the UNCIEF Policy Planning Unit.  UNICEF is developing a handbook of resources for teachers to use in teaching the future, and Teach the Future has been consulting with them in its development.


Dec 2-4, National Council on the Social Sciences

Joe Sears is a high school teacher at Emery High School in Houston.  He developed the unit called “The Next Chapter in World History” for the Library.  The unit has students imagine an historical event that occurs between 2015 and 2045 that is written up in a history book in 2115.  Joe appeared on the AHA panel in Atlanta in January, and he has had a paper on teaching the future accepted by the National Council on the Social Sciences (NCSS) for their annual meeting.


Until next time

So stay in touch, and join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media platforms.  And contact us through the website or directly to peter@teachthefuture.org... 

Copyright © 2016 Teach the Future, All rights reserved.

The First Quarter 2016 Newsletter

Table of Contents

  • Teaching materials
  • Teach the Future Europe
  • Up and Coming

Teaching Materials

FINALLY!  Teach the Future is proud to announce that Tomorrow’s Learning Library is now available.  The Library supports the mission of Teach the Future by providing teachers with classroom-ready activities, lessons, units and courses for elementary, secondary and college teachers and classes.  Developing one’s own teaching material is difficult in the current educational environment.  As a result, the Library is intended to make it easier for teachers to teach the future, particularly now at the end of the academic year in the U.S. and elsewhere when testing is over and teachers have more time to offer enrichment activities.

The Library contains 46 separate teaching resources of the following types –

  • Foundation Sets – 3 entry-level lessons for elementary, secondary and college classes
  • Teach the Future Library – 28 activities, lessons, units and courses for every level developed by Teach the Future staff
  • Additional Libraries – 8 collections of teaching resources made available by others
  • Games and Simulations – 8 modules that teach the future using games
  • Methods and Tools – a collection of professional foresight techniques that teachers can turn into lessons as they wish.

The Library is a living repository so we are not done yet!  We have a backlog of materials for the Library that we will be posting over the next month.  What is more, teachers have the chance to contribute their material to the Library, and Teach the Future will pay them for those materials according to this process.

So teachers, please visit the Library, download one or more modules, use them to teach the future, and send us your comments either in the Review attached to each of the modules or through the little envelope icon at the bottom right of every page. 

Teach the Future!


Teach the Future Europe

Teach the Future is an international initiative, and we are proud to announce that we have the first affiliate outside the U.S.  Erica Bol is a founding member of the Teach the Future Board of Directors.  She is also a social entrepreneur and a former faculty member at Fontys University of Applied Science where she taught foresight in the International Lifestyles Studies program.  Erica has established a not-for-profit organization in the Netherlands (known as a stichting) called Teach the Future Europe.  She has worked for over a year networking and organizing interested parties in the Netherlands and elsewhere to Teach the Future.

That effort began to pay off this month with two important meetings. 

  • A pabo in the Netherlands is a university program that prepares teachers for professional practice.  The Durzamme Pabo is an association of 20 pabos which include sustainability education in their curriculum.  Andre de Hamer, the Director of the Durzamme Pabo, invited Erica and Peter Bishop to meet with their members to discuss the overlap of sustainability and foresight education.  Representatives from two programs attended--Windesheim University and Marnix Academy.  They will exploring the possibility of including foresight education in their curriculum in cooperation with Teach the Future Europe.
  • The Dutch Future Society is an affiliate of the World Future Society in the United States.  The Director of the Society, Freija van Duijne, invited its members to a Hackethon about Teach the Future.  The meeting was held at Mmousse, a design agency in Amsterdam that also provides an outstanding facility for meetings and design sessions.  Erica led the meeting by asking the following questions –
    • What should students learn about the future?
    • Who is currently involved or could be involved in the promoting futures thinking in schools?

Peter Bishop also described the history of Teach the Future and where it is going from here.

Up and Coming

Summer workshop on futures thinking and gaming

Teach the Future has a contract with the Institute for STEM Education, an office of California State University-East Bay, to help design and facilitate a summer workshop for high school students in which they will develop scenarios for the future and then embed them in a video game.  Katie King, a former middle school ELA teacher and Teach the Future staff member, is developing the process that students will use to develop their scenarios.  Then Jateen Bhakta, a local game developer, will help students put those scenarios into a video game.

National Council on the Social Sciences

Joe Sears is a high school teacher at Emery High School in Houston.  He developed the unit called “The Next Chapter in World History” for the Library.  The unit has students imagine an historical even that occurs between 2015 and 2045 that is written up in a history book in 2115.  Joe appeared on the AHA panel in Atlanta in January, and he has had a paper on teaching the future accepted by the National Council on the Social Sciences (NCSS) for their annual meeting next December in Washington DC

So stay in touch, and join the conversation on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and other social media platforms.  And contact us through the website or directly to peter@teachthefuture.org.

The Fourth Quarter 2015 Newsletter

table of contents

  • American Historical Association
  • Teaching materials
  • Clements High School
  • OECD Education 2030
  • Seeking volunteers

american historical association

David Staley, professor at Ohio State and Teach the Future Board member, hosted a panel on teaching the future in history at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Jan 9.

The session was written up by Colleen Flaherty for InsideHigherEducation.com.


teaching materials

The primary strategy for this first year was to develop easy-to-use materials for teaching the future.  We are happy to say that we have completed the development of 20 such modules. We have one set of Elementary modules, 10 Secondary, and 9 College. They further break down to 4 Activities, 6 Lessons, 7 Units, and 3 Courses. 

There are still a few modules being developed, and we are always open to teachers who want to contribute more.  And we are still paying a modest stipend for new modules.

The next step is to find a developer to put the downloadable modules into an online database.  With that, the first phase of this project will be complete.  After that, we need teachers and schools to use them!


Clements high school

Nancy Liscum, a senior English teacher at Clements High School, taught an excellent unit on the future of the English language.  Peter Bishop and Principal David Yaffie attended the students’ presentation that included a Baseline forecast and future disruptions that could create Alternative futures.  Nancy is planning to write up this lesson to be included in the Teach the Future database of teaching materials.

Dr. Bishop also appeared in an art class and class for student leaders at Clements.


OECD Education 2030

The Education Division of the Organization for Economic and Community Development (OECD) in Paris is conducted a study to identify the 21st century skills that students need to be successful in the future.  Dr. Bishop was one of 14 expert contributors and the contributor selected to present their findings to the stakeholders on October 19.

The unfortunate result, however, was that Dr. Bishop found no reference to foresight or futures thinking in any of the 10 lists of skills he discovered nor in any of the lists turned in by the other 13 contributors.   So it is clear that futures thinking is not even on educators’ radar screens, much less in their classes and schools.


Seeking Volunteers

Teach the Future is developing new modules for teaching the future, but we are not the first.  We have found more than a dozen excellent collections of teaching materials and toolsets that could be used to teach the future.  We need to have a description of each of them before we publish them so we are looking for volunteers who would like to write up 300-word descriptions of the Collections we have found.  If you are interested, select one or more Collections from this file that has not been taken, and email Dr. Bishop at peter@teachthefuture.org about your selection.  We’ll send you a small token of our appreciation for helping us Teach the Future!

So stay in touch, and join the conversation on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and other social media platforms.  And contact us through the website or directly to peter@teachthefuture.org.

The Third Quarter 2015 Newsletter

table of contents

  • Getting the word out
  • Teaching materials
  • Clements High School

getting the word out

Lots of travel this quarter, getting the word out about Teach the Future --

  • Oct 15, Dallas TX – Interlink is a business/education consortium in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex designed to be sure that the high school and community college curriculum contains the skills that graduates for the job market in the area need.  Dr. Bishop made the case that futures thinking should be part of their curriculum.
  • Oct 22, Seongnam City, South Korea – Just outside of Seoul, Seongnam City is one of the high tech centers in Korea.  Some say it is the Silicon Valley of Korea.  Dr. Bishop met with the mayor and addressed a large group of citizens and city employees about how they should include futures thinking in their schools.
  • Nov 6, Trento, Italy – Dr. Robert Poli, a sociologist at the University of Trento, hosted a conference on Anticipation that asked 250 academics from all disciplines to share how their discipline deals with the future.  Dr.  Bishop participated on a panel of educators where he described how Teach the Future proposes to include anticipation in classes and schools around the world.
  • Oct 20-21, Las Vegas NV – Dr. Bishop met with leaders of the Communication and the Future Division of the National Communication Association at their annual meeting.  Dr. Bishop will be working them to propose a pre-conference course and a panel on teaching the future at their meeting in 2016.
  • Jan 9, Atlanta GA – David Staley, a history professor at Ohio State and a member of the Teach the Future Board of Directors, hosted a panel on teaching the future in history at the American Historical Association.  Other teachers on the panel were Peter Bishop, David Hochfelder, professor history at SUNY Albany, and Joe Sears, history teacher at Emergy High School in Houston.  The session was written up by Colleen Flaherty for InsideHigherEducation.com.

teaching materials

As you know, the primary activity this year is to produce teaching materials for secondary schools and colleges.  We are drawing the first phase of that development to a close in the next month or so.  These are the kind of materials we are developing, depending on the size and the time required --

  • Activity – Less than 1 day to 2 days
  • Lesson – 2 to 5 days (secondary), a week (college)
  • Unit – 2 to 6 weeks
  • Course – 10 to 15 weeks

It looks like the first batch of teaching materials will have about 30 modules in the following categories –

Activities

Secondary - 9
College - 4

Lessons

Secondary - 1
College - 0

Units

Secondary - 2
College - 1

Courses

Secondary - 2
College - 2

Some of the more interesting ones are an overall model of change, systems thinking, and the use of the Delphi method for estimating future quantities.

Another strategy is to assemble references to existing repositories of futures teaching materials.  So far we have identified 15 collections and 8 games that we will posting on the Teach the Future blog in the Collections category while our own materials are being prepared.

The next steps are to…

  • develop attractive and easy-to-use templates for these modules,
  • create one or more locations on the Internet where we can display and distribute the modules, and
  • promote them throughout the Spring. 

So stay with us.  More to come.


clements high school

Clements is one of the top-ranked high schools in the Houston metro area.  It serves Sugar Land, a major commercial and residential community in Fort Bend County.  The principal, David Yaffie, has asked Teach the Future to introduce futures thinking throughout the school.  Peter Bishop conducted an in-service in August for 20 teachers from many departments.  So far, four of those teachers have conducted futures activities or units with their students.  One was a terrific set of presentations on the future of the English language.  A half dozen or so other teachers are working on modules in their subject area.  It’s a large school so there is still plenty of room to grow. 

Peter will also be working with two teachers in their Global Studies Academy which is a group of teachers and students who take the same courses as a cohort.  Each student completes a capstone project in their senior year.  Three students have already indicated that they would like to do a project about the future of their topics.  One is on the future of jobs in the environmental industry, and another is on the future of healthcare. 

Peter Bishop also shared his thoughts on leadership with a class of school leaders (Student council, leaders of clubs, captains of sports teams, etc.).  He also introduced the future to an art class using images of the future.  So see!  You can teach the future in almost any class!

So stay in touch, and join the conversation on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and other social media platforms.  And contact us through the website or directly to peter@teachthefuture.org.

The Second Quarter 2015 Newsletter

table of contents

  • Fundraising
  • Teachers
  • Starters
  • Schools
  • Europe

fundraising

The big news of the quarter, of course, is our successful crowd sourcing campaign on Start Some Good.  We reached our Tipping Point of $10,000 on May 19, a full five days before the close of the campaign.  After that, we received more than $5,000 more bringing the total contributed to $15,385.  A very successful campaign, and a world of thanks to those who supported us.  That money will go to teachers this summer to develop teaching materials that we can put in the hands of teachers in the Fall.


teachers

Speaking of teachers, we have 25 teachers who have indicated an interest in developing materials this summer.  Katie King, a middle school English teacher, and Alexandra Whittington, an undergraduate instructor at the University of Houston, are coordinating the development of secondary and college material respectively.  They each have a small team of teachers who will be coaching those who signed up.

The work is starting slowly.  Nothing turned in yet, but looking forward to more this month.  Whatever is developed will be professionally formatted and ready for downloads in the Fall.  Since we won’t spend all the money raised this summer, we will keep the development program going through the Fall at least.  If you are a teacher or know of a teacher who would like to join our team, please go here to sign up.  We pay for draft and finished products so sign up now!


starters

Teachers have also downloaded 115 starter kits (secondary and college).  We are beginning to work with a UH grad who is now an assistant professor of education.  He will be working with us to develop assessment instruments on teachers’ experience in using the materials we create.  The first group contacted will be those who downloaded the Starter Kits.


schools

We are also working at the school level.  This Spring, Peter Bishop addressed the faculty of a highly rated high school in the Houston area.  The administration and faculty are enthusiastic about embedding the future into their regular classes.  Dr. Bishop will be providing some instruction on foresight at their in-service in August and then work with individual departments to create activities and lessons that teach the future within their respective disciplines. 

He also had an engagement at the University of North Carolina in June where he signed up a middle school in Durham to teach the future this year.  The school is a magnet school for creative studies which conducts a 40-min enrichment program each day.  The plan is for one language and one social studies teacher to use that period to teach the future over a nine-week period.  Dr. Bishop and Katie King will work with teachers from July through September to develop the lessons, and they will teach those lessons from October to December.  They will teach it again in the Winter session and debrief their experience in the Spring.


europe

Teach the Future is going international!  We already have a Board of Directors from five countries on three continents.  Now Erica Bol, a Director from Holland, has established a branch of Teach the Future there. 

So stay in touch, and join the conversation on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and other social media platforms.  And contact us through the website or directly to peter@teachthefuture.org.

The First Quarter 2015 Newsletter

Table of contents

  • Fundraising campaign
  • Latest News
  • Business
  • Social Media
  • Things to come

fundraising campaign

Our first fundraising campaign on Start Some Good, a platform for non-profit ventures.  Thanks to D’Ann Bishop who designed the campaign and to Patty Simonton at Start Some Good who gave us great support to launch the campaign.

We were going to use Kickstarter, the obvious choice, but we felt that Kickstarter is more for commercial ventures, and it’s better to be in a neighborhood with other people also trying to change the world.  Some people might be a little uncomfortable donating through a site that they haven’t heard of, but we did our research.  You’ll find a lot of traffic in Google under “start some good” and “start some good reviews,” including an article in Forbes.

Also a new website at www.teachthefuture.org thanks to Jefferies Design in Naples FL and Dan Downey, a copy writer in Folsom CA.  The website is cleaner, quicker and more suited to our mission of enrolling people in the social movement to teach the future in schools.

 It contains a three-part call to action –

  • Join the conversation, on social media, of course.
  • Donate to the fundraising campaign to pay stipends to teachers to develop futures teaching materials.
  • And for educators, contribute any futures lessons activities for teachers to curate (use as raw material) for the work this summer.

It also contains a page where educators can download a secondary and/or a college futures starter kit that contains a few lessons that teachers can use right away or adapt to their purpose.

We have ported over just a few blogs from the old website, and we’ll be bringing over more content as time goes on.

And finally, two new videos for the fundraising campaign and the website thanks to Jamie Fletcher at FocusPoint Studios in Houston and Dan Downey. 

  • One is the calls to action, principally to support the fundraising campaign.
  • The other is short discourse on how to teach the future when you can’t predict it.

So this quarter is still preparation, but we have made tremendous progress. 

And won’t you help us reach our financial goal?  Contribute what you can at www.startsomegood.com/teachthefuture


latest news

  • Mark and Zach are continuing to work with a small number of students at Xavier Academy in Houston.  We will get a report shortly on what they accomplished this semester.
  • Peter Bishop met with Anne Beckman, Director of the Global Studies Academy at Clements High School in Sugarland TX, a Houston suburb.  An Academy in that school means a group of students who take a structured program of courses from the same teachers as a cohort.  The Global Studies Academy obviously focuses on language, culture, environment, geopolitics and other global topics (like the future!).  She became aware of the UH program and Teach the Future through Adrian Taylor, a colleague from Hamburg, Germany.  She shared the idea of teaching the future in their Academy with her faculty.  In the meantime, David Yaffie, the principal at Clements, heard about Teach the Future, and wanted to teach the future across the whole school!  Peter Bishop met with him and Anne on Jan 15, and then with a select group of teachers in mid-February to discuss the opportunity.  Everyone came away from that meeting very pleased.  So the next steps are to introduce the idea to the whole faculty in April, and conduct in-service and planning workshops, by department, in August.  So Clements could be the first school in the world to teach the future across the whole curriculum!
  • Erica addressed a group of faculty from UNESCO schools in Holland about Teach the Future in March.  She also introduced the program to students at Earth University in Mercedes, Costa Rica.

business

Peter Bishop and the Advisory Group created a non-profit corporation in Delaware called Teach the Future, Inc. 

We set up a P.O. box (5300 N. Braeswood Blvd, Suite 4 – 374, Houston TX 77096), a bank account, and applied for a trademark for the ‘Teach the Future’ name.  The trademark takes a few months so no results yet.

We also designed and printed stationery, thanks to Marty Yigdall, the designer at Upstate Packaging in Greenville SC.


social media

Peter Bishop spent a good bit of time learning about and getting comfortable with social media.  Teach the Future now as a full suite of company and group pages on LinkedInFacebookGoogle+TumblrPinterest and Twitter (@teachfutures). Please join the conversation there.


things to come


Here are just a few things that we hope to happen before the next newsletter –

  • Fundraising – Reach the goal of $10,000 by May 25 and going beyond that.  Peter Bishop has pledged to match the first $20,000 donated in this campaign in an independent contribution to Teach the Future.  So donate now!
  • A repository – Build a futures teaching repository for teachers during the summer by:
    • assembling teaching material that we know about already, and
    • asking teachers to contribute any futures material they might have.
  • Teachers –
    • Recruit teachers to develop futures lessons and activities over the summer.  Announcements and applications will go out shortly.
    • Kick-off and manage the process of curating the repository into high quality lessons.
  • Partners
    • Appear at the bi-annual meeting of the World Futures Studies Federation in Turku, Finland to form a partnership with their educational efforts in futures studies.
    • Work with a business group in a major metropolitan area that works with high schools and community colleges to help their students be ready for careers when they graduate.  They are interested in including the future in that effort.
  • Business -- Works in progress:
    • Develop and adopt a set of By-Laws for the Board,
    • Set up a QuickBooks accounting system in the Cloud,
    • Apply for 501c3, tax-exempt status, and
    • Establish the means to receive donations on the website beginning in late May.

We are working as hard as we can to make Teach the Future a success.  You can help with your donation

And teachers can help by…

  • Downloading and using the Starter Kit,
  • Contributing any material they have about the future, and
  • Apply to work with us over the summer.

So that’s it for this quarter.  Thanks for signing up on the site.  Stay in touch and Teach the Future!

The Fourth Quarter 2014 Newsletter

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • A Second Launch
  • Things to Come

a second launch

The History

Teach the Future really began more than five years ago when Dr. Peter Bishop, Dr. Kay Strong, and teachers from the Houston area taught the first teacher in-service in Houston.  That approach lasted about three years, from 2009 to 2012, in five different sessions that prepared about 150 teachers to teach the future.  Unfortunately, we do not know if any of them actually did it.

The second wave of in-service opportunities began when the US Dept. of State offered its first summer course on teaching the future.  Twenty teachers from 13 different American schools from around the world took the three-day course.  Willis Goldbeck, a Board member at the Institute for Alternative Futures and at the La Jolla Country Day School, led the session after establishing a futures course for the school in La Jolla.  The third such course was offered last June (2014).

The Center for Houston’s Future, a think-tank on long-term issues for the Houston metropolitan area, led a group of Houston citizens who created two video scenarios for the future of Houston.  The Center staff approached Dr. Bishop in Spring 2013, asking him if he would embed those scenarios into curriculum materials for teachers in the Houston area.  Not having taught a high school course (math) in more than 40 years, Dr. Bishop chose to teach a course on the future of Houston at Emery High School, a private school in Houston.  Fourteen students signed up for the elective course and ultimately presented their scenarios to business people at the Center in Dec 2013.  The event was marked by a prominent article on the Houston Chronicle right after the first of the year.
Dr. Bishop then formally launched Teach the Future in a keynote presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) in Boston on Feb 8.  The first version of the website was also released at that time.
But then things slowed down.  Launching a social initiative requires a lot of skills, most of which Dr. Bishop had never done before – building and maintaining a website, developing curriculum materials for others, blogging and participating in social media.  Dr. Bishop’s schedule of teaching, training, public speaking and research in the Spring gave him many excuses to put off learning the skills.  In July, he found himself feeling bad and making excuses at the World Future Society because he had done as much as he wanted.

After that, Dr. Bishop attended a pre-conference course for the Foundation for Critical Thinking.  Drs. Richard Paul and Linda Elder had been building that initiative for more than 30 years, and they had assembled an impressive array of books, pamphlets, and teaching materials.  They routinely attracted more than 300 people to their conference each year.  If Teach the Future was to become a reality, it had to be a foundation, and a foundation had to have a full-time director. 

As a result, Dr. Bishop fulfilled his commitments for the Fall semester, including teaching his last university course, in order to launch the foundation full-time in January.  He recruited outstanding representatives from the futures field to act as an Advisory Board to help lay the foundation for the renewed initiative (below).  Finally, he set up groups and pages on LinkedInFacebookGoogle+, and @teachfutures.

The Future

So January will see the filing of corporate papers for the Foundation for Teaching the Future and an application for 501(c)3 status.  Dr. Bishop and the Advisory Board will also begin introducing Teach the Future through blogs and social media platforms.  The major objectives for the rest of the year is to raise enough money to solicit materials from teachers who already teach the future and to hire teachers to create the first set of futures teaching materials based on those and other materials.  The goal is to have ready-to-use teaching materials ready for download in the Fall. 

Advisory Board

Not only does a foundation need a full-time director, it also needs many experienced and talented people to support the movement.  There are many people contributing to Teach the Future even now, but these people have been guiding its development since November.  It is my pleasure to introduce them to you --

Other teams are also being formed, notably

  • Jim Lee has agreed to act as the Treasurer for the foundation, and he will lead a finance committee that will approve all major expenditures
  • Katie King and Wendy Schultz have agreed to work with secondary and higher education teachers respectively to begin to develop the Teach the Future Starter Kit, a few easy to use lessons that teachers can use right away to teach the future in their classrooms.

Value Proposition

Sam Miller is a business professor at Notre Dame who suggested that we needed a Value Proposition before we got too far into development.  As we understand it, a Value Proposition identifies the benefits that a teacher or an administrator (the customer) can expect if they buy or use a product or a service—i.e., if they teach the future.  It’s also called a Brand Promise because it promises to deliver these benefits if people will give it a try.

We have identified five benefits (promises) for those who teach the future in their classes and schools –

Teach the Future encourages and supports teachers and administrators to include the future in their classes and schools in order to achieve the following values --

  • Engage students in interesting and exciting projects that motivate them to learn.
  • Teach students what they need to learn to be successful adults, especially how to deal with the increasing rate and complexity of change.
  • Practice higher order thinking skills, such as research, analysis, critical thinking, creativity, evaluation, synthesis and communication.
  • Differentiate instruction by providing better students with open-ended projects that they can do largely on their own.
  • Be part of an innovative, educational movement while working with interesting and creative educators.

Let us know if this sounds attractive enough!

things to come

Here are just a few things that appear to be happening before the next newsletter –

  • Activities – Incorporation, IRS non-profit status, social media rollout and a re-designed website.
  • Xavier Academy – Two teachers will kick off a futures course at this self-paced school in Houston.  One of the products will be modules that are designed for students to learn about the future on their own.
  • Other projects – We are talking to a public school in Houston about teaching the future in their classes next year and to a large international organization that wants to launch a project that has students confront the future of education and find ways to make it better by 2030.  More on these later.

So that’s it for this quarter.  Thanks for signing up on the site.  Stay in touch and Teach the Future!

The Third Quarter 2014 Newsletter

Table of Contents

  • The Futurist – a special section on foresight education
  • Office of Overseas Schools – in-service on teaching the future for teachers around the world
  • OSPT – planning a foresight curriculum for schools of urban planning
  • Xavier Academy – teachers agree to include the future in their disciplinary lessons
  • Big History – great curriculum materials supporting a new way to teach about the past

The Futurist special issue on education

The biggest news is that The Futurist (free account required) published a special section on Foresight Education in its September-October 2015 issue. They have a “crowd sourcing” approach that solicits short (~500 word) essays on a given topic. They did the first one last year on the 22nd century, and this one is right on topic with Teach the Future.

I believe the issue was inspired by Richard Yonck, a contributing editor to The Futurist, who wrote a nice piece on his experience in the UH Certificate course last January (“Inside the Houston Futures Strategic Foresight Program,").  Cindy Wagner, editor of The Futurist, liked the idea of a larger collection about foresight education so we went to work inviting people to submit.

Note particularly Katie King’s article  on teaching the future in an eighth-grade English class and Darci Pappel’s experience taking a futures course as a senior in high school.  One of Katie’s students summarized her experience this way –

  • “During this unit I have learned how to look at things and think about what effect they could have in the future. I learned this skill from the group discussions and from the future wheels we did. I have not just learned about the big picture about what it could be but also smaller details that I could not see before.
  • “I think that that was a very good thing to learn because it could help me make the future a better place. I believe that every student should learn about how to see what a certain thing's implications on the future is. It would be good not only to help make the future a better place but also to help people make better decisions in their life.”

Would that all students felt that way about their classes!


US State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools

Willis Goldbeck organizes a teacher in-service every year under the auspices of the State Department.  The Department’s Office of Overseas Schools supports some 200 American schools around the world with grants, training, equipment, etc.  One of the training opportunities is a two and a half day session in Washington DC that draws about 20 teachers from more than a dozen schools around the world. 
 
Willis began his initiative to teach the future as a Board member and instructor at the La Jolla Country Day School in California.  I believe they have had a course on the future for four years now.  Also appearing were Clem Bezold and Jonathan Peck, principals at the Institute for Alternative Futures in Alexandria VA, and Lisa Waters who is managing Willis’ website.
 
One of the participants, Dean Cameron, jumped on the chance to offer students the chance to talk about the future on a Padlet Wall for his classes.  He created the wall even before the in-service was over.  Now that’s fast!


Things to Come

Here are just a few things that appear to be happening before the next newsletter –

  • A group has been formed to introduce scenario planning to schools of urban planning. It’s called the Open Scenario Planning Tools.  The work plan calls for the development of 1) laboratory exercises, 2) class guides for studio classes, 3) a citation database, and 4) a library of syllabi. Looks like this is the first professional group to recommend scenarios as part of its core curriculum. While specific to urban planning, parts of the exercises, citations and syllabi should be useful for other discipline.  We’ll post what becomes available on Teach the Future. 
  • Xavier Academy is a self-paced secondary school in Houston, Texas. A number of teachers have volunteered to work on developing futures lessons and units within their respective disciplines. We trust that the materials can be used by many others when they are posted on Teach the Future.
  • I’ve come across the Big History Project.  Big history is really big – 13.8 billion years big!  But they are doing exactly what we are doing, introducing new ideas into the school curriculum.  Ironically, theirs is about a new way to learn and think about the past; ours about the future.  How cool!  But the real take away are their curriculum materials under the student/teacher section, beautiful.

So that’s it for this quarter.  Thanks for signing up on the site.  Stay in touch and Teach the Future!