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Are writers more concerned about the future we will get or the future we want?

Shelf of Gradient Probable vs. Preferred Future

Education is often framed and presented in a definitive fashion in describing the probable futures we will get. Mainly drawing from trends in digitization and online learning, the literature focuses on delineating paths and trajectories often based on current technological developments and prospects for the near future.

However, this shifted with the COVID-19 pandemic towards more thoughts on the preferred futures we want which is in part due to the enormous shortcomings and inequalities revealed by the crisis, thus forcing reflection on how we want to take education forward. Still, the more descriptive accounts persist, pointing mainly towards the impact digitalization and technologies will have.


Excerpts from the literature

“The intensity of our lock-down and the power of this pandemic disease to scare and kill us, just might make us rethink what schools are for. The goal […] is to ensure that through schools and schooling we make the future accessible to all, not just the privileged.”

  • This quote is extracted from an article titled “Schooling Beyond COVID-19: An Unevenly Distributed Future” written by Brown and published in 2020. The author insists that the focus on a post-pandemic schooling system should be on the people and that the future of schools should be used as a method of engaging more profoundly with each other.


“While the pace and momentum is uncertain, disruptive technologies will lead to inevitable changes in higher education”

  • This quote is extracted from a journal article titled “Preparing for the future of higher education” written by Ahmad and published in 2015. This paper aims to assist lecturers, universities and their administrators in preparing for the evolving future of higher education.


“With the emergence of Big Data technology and the prevalence of new techniques of data mining algorithms, all processes and traces of learners functioning on the Internet will be recorded. So researchers are no longer focused on analytical techniques and tool development.”


“Some of the discussions about 21st century skills seem to assume that the future of unchecked domination by forces such as globalization, technology and environmental disasters is inevitable and that part of the purpose of learning is to teach young people how to defend themselves against such an unavoidable and unknown future. This is certainly a fear- and anxiety-inducing set of assumptions. Yet as University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor Adam Grant, in his book Originals, reminds us, ‘When we become curious about the dissatisfying defaults in our world, we begin to recognize that most of them have social origins: rules and systems were created by people. And that awareness gives us the courage to contemplate how we can change them’.”


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