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!