Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Education for uncertain futures

We crave explanations 
for most everything, 
but 
innovation and progress happen 
when 
we allow ourselves to embrace uncertainty.




Alice Bell the science blogger for the Guardian and Editor of New Left Project Tweeted...

"Science thrives on the cusp of uncertainty 
and its cunning operates in creative ways."

I've been thinking about uncertainty 
and wondering about its relationship
 to the state of being unsettled. 
In the past I have associated being 
'unsettled' or 'uncertain' as a change blocker. 
Today I say... Maybe.

Over the past few weeks I have been talking to classroom teachers at different schools and I am stunned that they do not consider that they really need to reflect on their teaching practice, ask why or try new ways. I'm wondering if they are experiencing uncertainty or are wanting to avoid being unsettled. So of course, I'm now really interested in this idea.

This coming weekend I am attending the second weekend of course: by Jane Gilbert PCSS551-13B (BLK) - Special Topic: The Future of Education.

Nine weeks ago at the end of the first weekend, the group of classroom teachers, reflected on their current understandings of schooling and education and decided there were feelings of being 'unsettled'.  I said, "but I don't feel unsettled, have I missed something?"

My understanding at the time was that 'unsettled' came from:
1. Deeply reflecting on why change is needed in schools and education.
2. Explicitly discussing the myths in education, which we as classroom teachers participate in perpetuating.
3. That knowledge is no longer just some thing to be transmitted, it has energy and students need to participating in being knowledge creators.
4. That schools in the 21st century continue to be based on the ideas of Plato

For nine weeks,I have wondered whether I"m about to feel unsettled. 
Another word has surfaced to sit along side unsettled, and that word is uncertain. 
Thinking about the things I feel uncertain about in schooling and education and then asking.. 
"Do I feel unsettled yet?" 

Last week, I visited Google and typed in 'uncertain' and 'education'. I was excited to find the path led to another talk by Keri Facer in the context of Education for uncertain futures!


Keri asks a simple question:
 "How do we better equip our students and ourselves to think critically about the assumptions we make about the future?" 


Keri identifies:

1. We are not so good at thinking critically about the future.

2. We manage uncertainty by working in cycles. "Schooling being profoundly cyclic."

3. When we do think about the future, we swing from a position of radical uncertainty or business as usual. Keri believes we all need to move beyond these polarities.

4. We need tools to be able to think critically and offers a model called: The four orientations to the future. Keri suggests we all need to think about which orientation is most useful to students and ourselves and the context we use the orientation.


Two key questions for thinking critically:
a) How open do we believe the future to be?
b) How much agency do we believe we have to influence it?

After listening to Keri, I am reflecting on which 'orientation' I am currently working with. As this may answer why I'm still waiting to be unsettled in my role as a classroom teacher. I have thought hard about when I experience uncertainty and feelings of being unsettled and I have noticed that its during these times I nudge something into action. I nudged this blog into action during a time when I changed from teaching Year 4/5/6 to teaching NE/Year 1.

My guess for my teacher colleagues who do not want to step into change is that radical uncertainty or business as usual has put them on pause.  I want to spend time understanding and applying the The Four Orientations. Keri suggests its actually critical to be able to place ourselves within an orientation so we can work with education in an uncertain future.

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