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Last week, our family experienced a beautiful miracle.
Our oldest daughter gave birth to our second granddaughter, a perfect little 5-pound human named Clara, and the world shifted on its axis. Our hearts divided and replicated like active cells, encompassing a universe of love for this new little one who has captivated us with her tiny fingers and her alert, bright eyes.
When I look at this precious new baby, and at my energetic and wonderful 3-year-old granddaughter (Clara's older sister), I am overcome with many emotions. Love and gratitude, of course. Joy and contentment and wonder. And also worry, a sense of urgency around the grave issues facing our planet and its future.
It's one thing to imagine a future for myself where climate change and other factors have made life challenging and/or untenable. It's quite another to imagine that future for my grandchildren; I want them to experience life in its fullest, most rich and beautiful iteration, not life that is compromised, broken and painful.
So I have been pondering futures thinking this week, a dynamic way of thinking about a desired future and using design thinking skills to design strategic solutions that support that vision. The idea is that our thoughts lead to action, and if we imagine a more sustainable, just and stable future, we can create ways of making that future come to life.
I have been an ardent fan of design thinking since I attended an introductory workshop at the Stanford d.school back in February of 2018. Since then, I have participated in several d.school training events, and served as a facilitator for two d.school workshops at Concordia International School Shanghai. I have seen the power of design thinking in opening up thought patterns, encouraging creative and critical thinking, and in fostering action that is positive and generative. I have participated in design thinking sessions with colleagues, and also with students. It's pretty amazing and if you haven't experienced design thinking, you can learn more here.
Futures thinking uses the principles of design thinking to inspire people, young and old, to shape the future of our world. Given the state of many things in 2022, this can be a powerful way to create change, and also to generate hope and a sense of agency and ownership for how the future may unfold. Often we can feel removed from many factors (governmental and otherwise) that shape policy and communal ways of being; futures thinking allows us to tap into the power of who we are, as individuals, to shape what we can control, and then to amplify the ripple effects into local and global communities.
While this might sound rather pie-in-the-sky in terms of realistic action, evidence suggests quite the opposite. Where we focus our attention is where our energy and efforts are concentrated. Reflecting on the future helps us understand what is happening now, and allows us to change behaviours that aren't positive or that don't support the kind of future we envision. And engaging in this kind of dialogue fosters the type of creative and critical thinking that is the basis for radical innovation, the kind of innovation we need to solve some of our pressing problems.
So this post is all about hope, and I encourage you to check out these resources about how to use futures thinking in your classroom. Equipping your students to believe they have a role to play in creating the future of our world is a way to empower all students, PK-12, to engage in positive and sustainable work in this world.
Some sites that include excellent resources about futures thinking include:
1) Teach the Future
2) Encounter Edu
4) Futures Thinking Course for Teachers on Coursera (free)
And I can't close this post without including some photos of little Clara and her big sister Eden. These two little humans (along with all the little humans you know and love) make it imperative for all of us to engage in futures thinking and in sustainable, purposeful action for our planet and its people.
Please share these resources about futures thinking with any colleagues who would be interested.