Learning from the Future

Powerful learning from “a wake up call”

Talking to art teacher Jarmo, just a few days ago, he pointed out he had to rethink his art curriculum now, not because of the pandemic, yet because of the climate crisis and especially because “young people, do not want to use this material or that for making art, they go and say teacher no no, this is microfiber and plastic, I don t use this”. Then he continued and say, “ they are worried, this planet might not be ok”.

Students ..it is all right for them to have a positive image about the future…. ( Tuovi, biology teacher)

How do we teach& learn making space for students, young children, or young adults’ feelings about the future? How do we teach& learn not having only knowledge and competencies in our planning but attitudes (e-motions too)? I found inspiring the idea that attitudes and e-motions can be synonyms for this purpose, I would define them as choosing what you do with what you learn. Why make space for reflecting ( and really important) questioning why we learn what we learn and what do we do with what we learn, how is that affecting our choices of everyday life, and as well how can we help the ones around ( humans & more than humans) solve their problems and challenges while having a positive image about future.

Vallisaari Biennale Helsinki September 2021, art installation No Sky as a Border (2021), pieces have fallen from the sky; it symbolically representation of change, structures or truths we believe to be solid and everlasting turn out to be unstable and broken; forcing us to revisit our ideas about stability, permanence..

Looking in school curriculum…I saw history, that is fine…but nothing about the future…and looking back they did not differe so much from 30 years ago..how is that possible? ( Tuovi, teacher, former principal and guest of this article)

My guest with this article is Tuovi Ronkainen, biology and geography teacher, principal, future skills both student and teacher and municipality elected representative for educational policy.

learning in Nature, walking, and allowing the environment& nature to “shape” your curriculum, opening up to reflections and deep learning as to find our own action

I invite you with this topic and interview to some self-reflection practices serving you and the ones you teach/learn:

  1. Be mindful of your own attitude and the simple tools to open up the conversation and students interest (emotions) for it. Making space and using simple tools like stop reflect write report before you start the topic or thinking of “Big” questions you might address “somebody important like prime minister etc” with students. Have a moment for yourself as well, reflect on your attitude: why is it important you teach with care for the future? What do you like and teach with that…
  2. We are an ecosystem of learning: as some of us might still think and feel the environment and climate, or ecology is something “outside” of our daily life, it is too “far away” from our own reality that we might find attachment/emotions and urgency to include in everyday teaching & learning, we can remember we are all ecosystems ourselves, we are  every moment influenced and shaped by the things and beings around us: news affect us and we react to them, the water we drink nuture or not our body, and our health is influenced by what we eat, we hear noise in the city that shapes our peace of mind and our actions etc. We are not silos we ourselves are ecosystems. We can use presence, and moments of just pausing and reflecting in one day, even one hour how many things, events, beings, phenomena shape our existence. You might like to find as an everyday practice your ecosystem of learning & teaching, you can find a collegue (friend) in school to have a 5 min check in/feedback after some lessons, or just have 5 min talk about anything you like, find use some management tool you like to just visualise where are you in your day what have you done what would you do differently, invite someone else (peer, colleague) to offer comments& reflections (not advices). With students, Jarmo art teacher with collegue biology took students to Ikea and had one day learning by “discovering how many speacies (wood, plants, birds etc) they can collect just being in Ikea?
  3. Create the FUTURE: invite students on a different topic to create the future, here are some ideas: what would a letter look like in 2035 how do we write then, how to we address one another, what electricity and energy looks like in 2050, what vehicles do we have, what video games we play, what clothes are made of, what animals inhabit our forests and nearby nature etc. We might feel anxiety about the future yet we can shift that by moving from control need ( fixed mindset) to creative& imagination power of the human mind ( infinite mindset). While doing that we create a positive image (indiferent what is happening) about the future for us and for students.
  4. Any crisis is an invitation to adaptability and resilience. Here the tool is a simple one, what is that you already are doing (something might seem minore) don’t look for the obvious, and that surprise you, you feel you might like to do more of that. Make time and space for your teaching to include more of that, write, plan, unlearn ( let go of things you used to do and no longer server you). Same for students. They will also “copy” the model of the adult, seeing adults resilient & adaptive around them they will mimic that.
  5. Build on strength and see weakness as opportunities for development and learning. The fallen tree doesn’t think I am down so sad my purpose is over, the fallen tree is key to a whole different ecosystem, as it nurture all the funghies and others form of life that decompose in order for a new life chain to happen. Create opportunity in prioritising learning to see what are your strenghts you build on your future teaching and what weaknesses you would like to address and see them as opportunities for further personal and professional development

Sustainable curriculum- learning what is important to students and teachers.

teachers, how do we learn with/in nature peer empathy dialogue, workshop Helsinki Sept. 2021

Interview with Tuovi, follow and be mindful of your own resonance and ideas during this short interview. Tuovi will be a guest in the course Transformative Teaching and Education between Covid 19 and Climate change you can access and register here for the next editions https://actonlearning.org/program/shockcourse/

Further references:

  1. E-motions and ecology, I really like perspective brought by Norwegen psychologist and economist Per Espen Stokes on how to act for a positive image about the future https://www.ted.com/talks/per_espen_stoknes_how_to_transform_apocalypse_fatigue_into_action_on_global_warming?language=en
  2. 21st lessons for 21st century book by Yuval Noah Harari
  3. Leading from the Emerging Future, book by Katrin Kaufer & Otto Scharmer, MIT
  4. Future thinking games like https://quandarygame.org/play
  5. Megatrends card game for thiking and creating the future https://www.sitra.fi/en/topics/megatrends/#contact

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