Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Future thinking - and education

  Posted by Picasa You would think that the questions that all citizens need to be asked regularly are where do we want to go as a country? What we want to create as a result of our joint efforts? What kind of society do we want to be known for?

If we are never asked such questions by our so called ‘leaders’ we will revert at election time to narrow self interest. Such short term self interested thinking will not help us think about the bigger questions that ought to determine our future.

It is becoming obvious that fast moving change is going to become a feature of our future. It is also pretty obvious that the received wisdom of the past is no longer viable. Old myths need to be debunked and new myths discovered. The uncertain future provides a great opportunity for the counties, organizations and individuals that can tap into new thinking - that is if they can escape the reactive pull of the 'status quo'.

A recent TV programme discussed the challenge of the future. The biggest issue was one of sustainability – how to manage our natural environment so that valuable natural resources are not wasted. And, as well, the need for New Zealand to develop a positive cultural identity. The question asked was what kind of identity and values do we want to encourage?

For too long we have waited for ‘leaders’ and their ‘experts’ to solve such problems for us but if we believe in democracy, as messy as it is, then the ‘voices’ of the people ought to count more than voting every three years.

Some way to tap the ‘wisdom’ of the people needs to replace the current reliance on so called ‘experts’.

What we need is a process to allow a range of national conversations to be undertaken so as to gain the diverse insights of ‘ordinary’ ‘people. Alternative scenarios could be presented of ‘preferred futures’ to debate, or groups could simply provide the answers to open questions.

Those in positions of authority need to think of such processes – either face to face meetings or by using modern information technology and then devise ways to aggregate ideas. This process could be used nationally, by communities, or in any organization.

Such ‘conversations’ could be precursors to elections (local or national) or when any organization is considering its future.

What is needed is to create a community of discussion, debate and healthy argument to replace the current cynicism that many currently hold about those in authority.

Such a community of debate must be preferable to rule by distant ‘leaders’ or their technocrats both of which seem to have little insight about the lives of ‘ordinary’ people. A healthy democracy requires a constant flow of idea from its citizens and a way to tap into their ‘collective wisdom’. Experts have no monopoly on the future as history shows.

One way to do this is to develop some agreement is about where we want to go as a country – how we want to be seen – and the behaviors we want to encourage.

If we can develop a future that encapsulates the shared dreams of us all we can shape our own destiny and create a better and more sustainable world.

This will take real visionary leadership.


Anonymous said...

I love reading your blogs- inspiring and stimulating! Visionary without obfuscating. Nice clarity. From a teacher in Australia: Thank you.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Greetings anon

Great to know you are reading my blogs in Australia! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Send your blog to the politicians!