Artist: Abigail

Who is imagining Learning Futures in the anthropocene?

July 28, 2021 | | Learning Futures

Policy discussions about learning futures often take place without those who will be living those very futures – that is, without children and youth who are routinely left out of the future visioning exercises and policy making decisions. This is especially problematic when decisions are made about the human-induced climate catastrophe, when short-term benefits for today’s generation seem to stand in conflict with the rights of future generations.

Given that children and youth, especially in non-Western countries are already bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, their absence in conversations about learning futures further adds to the intergenerational injustice that is unravelling in front of our eyes. Our project aims to “Turn It Around” – both literally and figuratively!

At the center of this initiative is one of the oldest and most basic learning tools – a deck of educational flashcards – familiar to anyone who went through Western modern(ist) schooling. Much like flashcards for literacy and numeracy, this Deck of Flashcards for Education Futures will feature 40-60 printed cards that will display climate crisis inspired artwork created by youth on one side, and motives, actions, and facts for policy makers to guide their decision making, on the other side. Unlike the traditional unidirectional way of using flashcards – designed by adults for children – this deck of flashcards will be designed by youth – as futureholders – for education policymakers, politicians, and educators. Furthermore, the deck will be designed not only to convey urgent messages from youth to politicians and policymakers, but also to make them feel what youth are experiencing, thinking, and feeling on an emotional and physical level – in their bodies. By turning the learning hierarchies and dynamics, the deck will serve as a reminder that everyone – and everything – must radically change.

More importantly, this project is an invitation to re-imagine – from the children and youth’s perspective – our learning futures. Complementing and further extending the UNESCO’s Future’s of Education Initiative, we invite you to join us in re-imagining the role of education in the Anthropocene. In particular, What role should education play in this moment of the climate crisis? How can we learn to become with Earth’s others and begin recomposing worlds together? How can we re-situate ourselves within the relational flow of life where everyone and everything – both human and non-human – are deeply interconnected? Where, how, from whom, and with whom can we learn the collaborative, collective, and mutually recuperative lessons of survival? How can we develop full ecological consciousness that we are just one many of this Earth’s interdependent beings, entities, and forces?

Select submissions will be gathered into a global collection of FLASHCARDS FOR EDUCATION FUTURES and introduced to policymakers at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) and the launch of UNESCO’s Future of Education report.

We are calling children and youth under the age of 25 years old to share their visions by submitting their artwork and short written responses to prompts using here. The deadline has been extended to July 30th! If you are older than 25 years old, please spread the word through your networks and don’t hesitate to share your visions with us too! Let’s turn it around!