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!