Traditionally schools have done a great job at teaching students to cope in the world that the adults in them grew up in, a reasonable job at teaching students for the world they are growing up in and a comparatively poor job at teaching children for the world they will inhabit as adults.
Future Proofing is a popular buzz word in technology circles the describes: "a product, service or technological system that will not need to be significantly updated as technology advances." (www.techopedia.com).
Surely if anywhere needs to take future proofing seriously it is education when we are looking a the future of not just machines or products but of the people who will go on the create and use those machines, products and ideas.
How then should a school go about auditing whether or not the learning it provides is future proofed?
Do we explicitly reference the 'intelligent core' (whether this defined as Howard Gardner's '5 Minds for the Future' , Blooms Higher order Thinking Skills, the Learning Power dispositions of Guy Claxton or one of the other possible list) in our teaching and curriculum documents?
Things to look for:
- Do your schools curriculum and planning documents use the language of higher order thinking? This list might be of use
- Can teacher articulate the 'split screen' (using Guy Claxton's term to describe a lesson that has two complimentary objectives one relating to content and the other to the aspect of 'learnable' intelligence being covered) outcomes of their teaching.
Do we have an assessment and feedback system which ensures that students must apply their learning in new and unfamiliar situations?
- Do our assessments require students to use and apply what they know in order to create something that demonstrates a deep understanding?
How do our educators view their role?
- Do teachers view themselves as Maths (delete and add whichever subject you prefer) Teachers or as Teachers who are teaching students to learn with and through Mathematics.
- Do we create students who can apply subject skills and knowledge in novel situations often beyond the bounds of the subject area (What David Perkins would refer to as 'intelligence in the wild").
Are the adults in the school community modelling and sharing a fascination with encountering the unknown?
- As teachers how many questions do we ask where we are genuinely excited to know what the students think?
What is the time period over which you judge educational success?
- How many conversations focus on where a child will be at the end of the term or lesson as compared to where will they be in 5,10,15 years time?
Do we have a clear idea of the attributes the knowledgeable and skilled learners who will face the unknown future with enthusiasm and justified confidence will need to possess?
To end with a quote from Eric Hoffer which almost 50 years on seems to have passed the future proofing test:
In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.