In terms of getting started in classrooms around future focus, I’ve seen people using quite a few different ideas. One that I thought was very effective was in one school where they took the four areas that are mentioned in the curriculum, and they based their programmes for each term around that - so over the course of the year they’d covered four areas one in each term.
Citizenship fitted nicely into the first term actually in terms of what they were doing. Another school (and I’ve seen this in a few schools but one school in particular) I liked how schools develop a whole year overview, and using big ideas and big questions. Their overview topic for the year was “our place” and what they came up with was a big idea that said that the actions we are taking now will impact on what our place looks like in the future. So they based one whole term of their “our place” study around what their place was going to look like in the future, and why, and again that concept of multiple futures. It was based on existing knowledge because that’s a lot of the future we need to base on what we know now rather than coming up with these fantastical things what it might look like.
I think the common misconception about future focus is that it’s all robots, and technology, and all those sorts of things. Future focus can be applied to absolutely any topic across a hugely broad range. It could be legal, it could be social, it could be political. You could look at it from an aspect of defense, it could be used in any topic that you’re studying.
On the other hand that leads into scenarios which I think are a brilliant way that teachers can look at the future and there are many ways of using scenarios. One of them is (as we do in future problem solving) getting students to write their own scenarios about the future where they take (in future problem solving) take the topic that we’re working on for the year, for example, the status of women is one we’re doing this year and they do a lot of research around that and then write a scenario set 30 to 40 years in the future where they take some of those issues that they think will be future issues, and they find ways of resolving them through a 1500 word story. Sort of a science fiction story and those are very interesting because they give students views on the future. You can also use future scenarios in many ways in the classroom you can use them as a basis for literacy where the kids are exploring the issues involved in a future scenario - so what might this look like in the future rather than what does it look like now?
Really, the concept of looking to the future, and considering the future is relevant to all subjects because that is what we’re working towards, that is where we’re going in life as human beings in society. So, for example, for maths you’ve got to look to the future because the problems that we get today may not be the same as the problems we get in the future. So we’ll have to change our methods and consider what will happen in the future to make our problem solving better.
There’s also a lot of little strategies that you can use. I just think when people are planning their topics or their enquiries they should always be asking themselves how can we get a future focus into this? Rather than what we tend to do is look at the historical, look at the present, but how can we look at what might this look like in the future? I’d urge people to always have that at the back of their minds as part of the planning.
I would suggest to any teacher wanting to incorporate future focus just to talk about it. If you’re giving an example of something see if you can get the students to imagine if we were continuing on that trajectory where it might logically end. Get them to think about if you’re raising a piece of technology how that might look in a few years time. Get them to think about what it could be applied for. It’s a simple matter of just starting to have those discussions in your class. That’s the first starting point.