What happens today in education profoundly influences the lives of individuals and the health of whole communities for decades to come. Yet, educational decision-making is mostly about dealing with pressing immediate issues or seeking more efficient ways of maintaining established practice, rather than about shaping the long term.
Education in the Information Age
Jay Ogilvy addresses here the application of scenario planning to the future of education. He first reflects on methods and the different uses of scenarios, comparing features of education and business. He then illustrates the methodological points.
System Thinking, System Thinkers and Sustainability
Michael Fullan advises that thinking about the future is not enough for decision makers in education; it is also necessary to conceptualise how to change current systems in specific, powerful ways. He identifies three priority areas to consider: i) the challenge of change, ii) systems thinking, and iii) sustainability as the route to the future.
Scenarios, International Comparisons, and Key Variables for Educational Scenario Analysis
Jean-Michel Saussois presents basic features of scenarios as ideal types, looking at both the evolution of scenarios and their applications in the business world and their relevance for educational decision-making. He suggests that scenarios involve demanding assumptions which should be understood, especially when the exercise is one of international comparison.
On the basis of a definition that draws on a wide understanding of the field, Philip van Notten proposes and discusses a typology of scenario methods. This is divided into three "macro" characteristics – goals, design and content – and ten "micro" characteristics within these broad categories.
Futures Studies, Scenarios, and the "Possibility-space" Approach
Riel Miller presents the field of futures studies, drawing a number of parallels with the study of history. He describes how the search for greater predictive accuracy involves risks.
Futures Thinking Methodologies and Options for Education
This chapter by Jonas Svava Iversen gives a user-oriented view of a range of scenario methodologies. The author presents scenarios as involving four phases, and elaborates each in terms of their purpose, techniques to achieve them, and insights about successful practice and potential pitfalls.
The English FutureSight initiative was built through a multi-partnership approach to develop practical applications of futures thinking which school leaders could use to shape, not just guess at, the future. FutureSight is a tool for school leaders which makes more explicit the values and goals that drive decisions, thereby engaging the school’s stakeholders in creating the future together.
The Dutch government’s steering philosophy in education has combined decentralisation and more autonomy for schools, with a greater influence of the stakeholders – parents, students and the local community. Innovation means that schools have the ability to organise their classroom teaching differently, not following a new "grand design" for teaching.
The New Zealand futures thinking initiative is working towards a vision for secondary education by: creating space to contemplate the future; providing tools to resource thinking about the future;
Ontario English-speaking System
In the English-speaking school system in Ontario, the "Teaching as a Profession" initiative developed and adapted scenario tools for a series of workshops held with teachers, students, academics, principals, administrators, members of the private sector and civil servants.
Ontario French-speaking System
The Vision 2020 initiative has proved to be timely given that Ontario’s francophones had gained access to school governance at the end of the 1990s yet amidst concern about assimilation and the erosion of their unique culture.
Reflections on the Practice and Potential of Futures Thinking
The rapporteurs of the 2004 Toronto Forum (two Canadians, three Europeans) were called upon both to advance general priorities for futures thinking in education and were assigned to workshops on each of the volunteer systems described in Chapters 7-11.
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