Earlier Work: Futures in Education

This section contains a sample of work dating mostly from the 1980s and 1990s. Also see General Futures Papers in the Archive section on this site and the School Resources pages here on the Foresight International site.

Critical futures studies – a dimension of curriculum work (1987)

Educational institutions are already in the futures business. They participate in a much wider enterprise often without knowing it, without reflecting on the processes whereby aspects of past cultures are brought into the present and used as raw materials in the construction of futures.  (Read more…)

The machine at the heart of the world: technology, violence and futures in young peoples’ media (1991)

As the title suggests, this essay takes a critical look at three themes in young people’s media: technology, violence and futures. Such themes are embedded in texts and images which have been designed, constructed, packaged and broadcast to children and young people via books, comics, film and TV. But this is not a work of literary criticism. My concern is less with the literary qualities of the material than with some of their wider human and cultural implications. Chief among these is the penetration of technology into the symbolic and actual life-space of people in the present century. (Read more…)

International overview of futures in education (UNESCO workshop, Vancouver, 1992)

Futures education is a direct and creative response to change and uncertainty. It incorporates a recognition that there are problems, dangers and choices ahead which have few historical precedents. When change was slow, technologies primitive and human populations small, the past provided reliable guidelines for the future. Today that is no longer the case. We are living through a series of multiple transformations, the final outcomes of which are unpredictable and unknowable. But the future is not an empty space, and the study of futures is no more difficult or problematic than the study of the past. It is different because the future has not happened yet. That is precisely why it is worthy of attention. (Read more)

From strategic to proactive leadership in schools (1993)

In all the commentaries about the outlook for the next 20 years, education nearly always comes out near the top of the list. It is seen by many informed observers to be one of the most important influences on national and global well-being. Yet, in the past, it has struggled with a past-oriented or short-term outlook, a rapidly changing environment and a distinct lack of professional expertise (to grasp ‘the larger picture’ and move ahead with confidence). The means to resolve this dilemma are now at hand. (Access the full article here)

Creating positive views of futures with young people (1995)

that young people are growing up and maturing at a time when many of the old certainties have broken down. They have inherited difficulties from the industrial era which has few or no historical equivalents. The term ‘global problematique’ (or interlocking set of social, economic, political and environmental problems) was coined by the Club of Rome to draw attention to this. More recently the term ‘resolutique’ has been used to draw attention to possible solutions. However, it’s clear that the latter are difficult to find and even more difficult to implement. In the 1990’s there is a sense of things falling apart, of a radical loss of certainty and vision. (Read more)

Schools of the future still lost in the past (1997)

The glaring contradiction that lies at the heart of contemporary education systems was again clearly illustrated by Mr Geoff Spring, the Secretary of Victoria’s Education Department, on these pages on Monday. The piece opened and closed with familiar rhetoric about ‘the future’. The rest dealt with arrangements for reviewing teacher training and for financing and administering the educational system in Victoria. The underlying problem is that Mr Spring is writing out of a framework takes for granted current politics and economics which simply cannot, as it currently stands, embrace a wider, longer-term view. But it could do so. (Read more…)

Universities as institutions of foresight (1998)

The model of the hierarchical, exclusive, place-based university that flourished for several hundred years is in decline. While this model successfully resisted many past challenges and assaults, the present range of deconstructive and reconstructive forces flowing around and through it are historically unprecedented. These forces are undermining the ‘classical’ university and will re-shape it in unpredictable ways. This paper explores the notion that any or all of the new models can embody new options, one of which is to reconceive universities as Institutions of Foresight (IOFs). (Read more…)

Near future landscapes as a futures tool (1997)

Insights created within futures studies (FS) and written up in the futures literature may too abstract and diverse to fulfil the goal of fs to provide clear ‘maps’ to non-specialists of the near-term future. However, graphics and images may help to make futures concepts and emerging insights easier to grasp. (Read more…)

Re-designing education systems for the 21st century (1999/2000) 

Schools, education systems and the socio-economic milieu in which they are embedded, are all products of the industrial era. As such, and notwithstanding the rapid uptake of computers and IT, the assumptions of that time and worldview remain deeply inscribed within them. In stark contrast to the UN Declaration on the Responsibilities of the Present Generations to Future Generations, they do not embody any articulated concerns about the future in general, or about future generations in particular. This article attempts to diagnose the causes of this oversight and to recommend strategies to deal with it. (Read more…)