I touch the future; I teach – reflecting on Keri Facer’s “Learning Futures”

Let's touch the stars

On the recommendation of Steve Mouldey I purchased and read the truly thought-provoking book by Keri Facer: Learning Futures: Education, technology and social change.

In this well-structured and coherently argued book, Facer builds a compelling case for maintaining physical schools in the light of increasing claims about what the future will mean for education, such as those here.

While, of course, Facer’s “future-building school” of 2035 represents a significantly different educational institution to those of the local school down the road today, it is undeniably a physical presence in a literal building where human relationships are key.

Facer begins her book by exploring some of the exciting and some of the alarming potential futures ahead.  In so doing though, she continually emphasises that the stories of the future she outlines are just that – potential narratives – just versions of what may or may not be.  She calls us to take action now – not to see the future as something pre-determined, but as something that is created step-by-step from the decisions that we make today.  The ‘ending’ of the story can be changed.  And schools have a critical role to play in shaping the future – not just in churning out workers for jobs – but as nurturing citizens who may well have to grapple with environmental, biological, technological, generational and societal issues.

And, for me, it is this emphasis on the future as a story that particularly resonated: “The future is not something that is done to us, but an ongoing process in which we can intervene.” (p. 6) While there are indeed significant challenges ahead, and Facer argues that schools must become democratic hubs where learners explore how to live in an equitable, sustainable, connected way, ultimately I was left with the very hopeful feeling that teaching is really a tangible expression of optimism – that what we do can, and indeed should, make a difference.

So while I generally avoid such cheesy sentiments as those in my title, I too recommend to you Keri Facer’s Learning Futures as a place to go to think about why education and schools are so crucial because in teaching we have the opportunity to ‘touch the future’.

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First Presentation!

I’ve been asked to do a presentation to the English Department on future learning and how my role as Future Learning Leader might help the department tackle the shift to BYOD next year.  I thought I’d use the opportunity to try some new presentation software.

Getting into haiku deck was a drawn-out process, and I found I couldn’t quite do everything I wanted to – but the final result is, I think, beautiful.  As a learning tool, I think it would be powerful to get students or teachers to really synthesise their ideas down to the core.

Check it out:

http://www.haikudeck.com/p/i2Hu3Kqw8F

“We should be a little less afraid of miracles”

There are some powerful thoughts in this blog post on Student Choice.

A highlight (in addition to the quote above): “To paraphrase Chris Lehman (@chrislehmann), if we give students an assignment that produces 25 copies of identical work, we’ve given a recipe, not a thought-provoking, opportunity for growth.”

 

Bringing Discovery Back

I really enjoyed this blog, and in particular this TEDEx talk. Some of my ‘take-aways’ from this presentation include:

  • Allowing students to explore -> play -> learn, which is a process that requires critical thinking and creativity. We shouldn’t just accept things the way they are.
  • Daniel, the speaker, makes two suggests for ways we can be explorers:
  1. Being a ‘polar’ explorer – thinking about the extremes, the most to the least
  2. Being a ‘circumnavigator’ – walking around the edges of things to see what is marginalised and what is centralised – this suggests values and is a political act.
  • Without exploration there is no discovery, and students deserve an ‘a-ha!’ moment.

Steve Mouldey

On Friday I was invited/gatecrashed a visit by our Deputy Principals to see the Mind Lab in Newmarket. It is an incredible space that really empowers people to discover science, technology and engineering. We are having a large MakerSpace built in our new school so were looking forward to seeing some ideas for how it could be set up and used plus work out what the Mind Lab could offer above what we could do in future.

Chris Clay met us and showed us around the amazing space while explaining what each area is used for: film special effects, 3D animation, robotics, coding, science…it was incredible as you can see from the photos below:

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