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Creative Learning Sparks - Imagining the Future

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Hello, creative learning friends! The theme for this week's sparks is "the future".

Spark #1 Recently, I read the book "Imaginable" by Jane McGonigal, which has this intriguing description: "How to see the future coming and feel ready for anything- even things that seem impossible today". It was a fantastic mix of informative, entertaining, and interactive. One little spark that I took away is the idea that "future scenarios" are an important tool in any futurist's (or everyday person interested in imagining the future) tool chest. But how you set up these scenarios matters. E.g., saying "10 years in the future" is more generative than saying "in the future". I got to see how some of the ideas in this book were taken up by young learners in a camp this summer. We gave learners prompts like "imagine a playground 10 years in the future- what would it look like? feel like?" and invited them to create prototypes of their visions of the future using craft materials and electronics. It was fascinating to see where their minds went and how it was sometimes challenging to think beyond the realities of today. There are so many little exercises and ideas in this book that could inform the design of interesting learning activities and experiences that are speculative or future-oriented.

Spark #2 "Artifacts from the Future" is an activity suggested by the Institute for the Future (Jane McGonigal is a part of this organization). In a way, this is what the campers were creating. But many of their "artifacts from the future" were small prototypes of larger structures like buildings or art installations. I love the way this activity is described and I think it would be a great prompt to try with learners:

"Imagine that you could take an archaeologist’s expedition to the future to collect objects and fragments of text or photos to understand what daily life will be like in 10, 20, or 50 years. Artifacts from the Future give us this tangible experience of the future. They make the details of a scenario concrete, helping us to understand, almost first-hand, what it will be like to live in a particular future."

p.s. this reminds me of one of my favorite books, "Motel of the Mysteries" where artifacts from our present are unearthed in the future and are amusingly misinterpreted.


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