Global Future Education Advisory 001
Future-oriented Education: The practice of consciously shifting the balance of education toward a far more future-oriented perspective.
Future-oriented Education: A new way to describe our goal
October 10, 2013 | Global Future Education Advisory 001
This is the inaugural edition of my new monthly Global Future Education Advisory. Its purpose is to keep readers up-to-date on my ideas on educating kids not for the past, but for their future.
This month’s article:
Future-oriented Education: A new way to describe our goal
By Marc Prensky
Published in Educational Technology Magazine, Nov-Dec 2013
We are all searching for ways to move our schools more quickly forward into the future.
I suggest every school and teacher adopt “Future-oriented Education” as one of their primary goals. If someone asks: “What do you do here?” the answer is “We don’t just educate—we educate for the FUTURE.”
Future-oriented Education means consciously re-balancing our education away from being only past-oriented to being far more future-oriented than it is today.
Part of Future-oriented Education, of course, is moving quickly to the tools of today and tomorrow.
But Future-oriented Education goes way beyond that. Future-oriented Education also means viewing technology as the “new foundation” of our education—on the same par with the reading and writing from the past. We won’t stop reading and writing, but we all need to be seeking a better balance between the old foundations of education and the new. “Is what I teach really what my kids need to learn?” recently tweeted a teacher. In too many cases the answer is no. At its heart, FUTURE-cating is educating with an eye on — in addition to the tests and the current curriculum — the real things our kids need in their future, as we, their educators, perceive them.
No More “Past-ucation”
The opposite of FUTURE-cation is “Past-ucation.” “Past-ucating” is continuing to do things in only the “old” ways. It’s continuing to value the old over the new, rather than trying to seriously rebalance for the world of tomorrow.
Last year my son had a “Past-ucator” for his second-grade teacher. She was not comfortable with technology and never accorded it much importance. Her classroom was little different than my own second grade classroom 60 years ago. The four computers on the side of her classroom room were rarely turned on. There were no computer-generated pictures or writing on the classroom walls. There was no balance between the expository and non-fiction writing of the past, and the technology and graphics-based communication of the future. When my son was finally allowed to make a PowerPoint presentation, it consisted of his written paper pasted in, with a couple of pictures. He read his text to the class word for word.
The worst part about Past-ucation is that the Past-ucators’ biases are communicated every day—consciously and unconsciously— to their students. My son tells me that asking Siri to find a definition for him is “cheating,” and that Wikipedia “lies.” From where does he get these ideas? Not from home.
A “New Balance”
Education is not just about preserving our collective past, but about preparing our kids for their future. In times when the future changed relatively slowly, it was good enough for educators to be the passers-on of the content and skills of yesterday. But we all know the future is arriving at an accelerating rate, and that the world our kids will live in will be profoundly different from today’s. Our job as educators is to prepare them for that world.
We certainly must teach the past—but we cannot make it the only basis for our education. Today we require a “new balance” between the old and the new. More and more educators are now seeking that new balance, realizing that Past-ucation—even when done well—is not enough. For our kids’ sake, we must expose unmitigated and unrepentant “Past-ucating” when we see it, and designate “Past-ucation-only” as something that we can no longer tolerate. The more we rely on Past-ucation (and that includes “new ways to do the old stuff”) the less we are preparing our kids for their future, and the more we are handicapping them.
Future-oriented Education: Our Common Goal
To ensure our kids are as ready as they can be, our common goal must be to educate for the future as much and as often as possible—with every teacher, school, district and even country finding their own path. A useful way to evaluate anything we do (or ask others to do) as an educator is to ask ourselves “Is this Future-oriented Education? Or is it Past-ucation? Almost all of us can tell the difference.
Long-term, I believe that the best way to balance the needs of past and the future is to replace today curriculum with the far more basic skills of Effective Thinking, Effective Action, Effective Relationships and Effective Accomplishment—all enhanced, extended and enabled by all the powerful tools and technologies of the 21st century and beyond. We have already begun to do this by emphasizing basic skills like “critical thinking,” and “creativity.” But we can, and must, go much further. Acting, relating and accomplishing skills (“entrepreneurship” for example) will be far more important in the future.
I submit “Future-oriented Education” as a handy term for quickly communicating where it is we want to go — and “Past-ucation” as a term for what to avoid. I believe Future-oriented Education is a useful goal for all of us — technologists, schools, parents, and particularly students — to demand from all educators and rally around.
Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested.
Copyright © 2013 Marc Prensky, All rights reserved.
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