More than Ever, the Future

Submitted By:
Jessica Flaxman, Rye Country Day School, Rye, NY

Heat waves, wildfires, and chatbots that seem to know the words we are looking for before we do – the summer of 2023 brought extreme acts of both nature and humankind. Who among us predicted some, or all, of these novel events? Given what we can perceive with our own senses, not to mention what is reported across the media on a minute-to-minute basis, shouldn’t all of us have at least considered the current climate calamity and the age of AI as possibilities? In Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything—Even Things That Seem Impossible Today, Jane McGonigal of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA makes a compelling case for adopting the habits of mind known as futures thinking, or thinking in active ways about specific scenarios that may come to be. Doing so, she argues, helps “to prepare our minds and stretch our collective imagination, so we are more flexible, adaptable, agile, and resilient when the “unthinkable” happens.” McGonigal defines episodic future thinking (EFT) as the process of “unsticking” our minds – of thinking about the unthinkable by looking for clues, signals, and signs of change and by engaging in deliberate acts of imagination, what she calls “packing [our] bags for the future.” As the school-year clock restarts and educators experience that comforting, recursive return to the classroom, we are wise to fortify our thinking about what’s around the corner. More than ever, the future is now.

Current Events & Civic Engagement
Leadership Practice