There is this fascinating idea about education, that its major role is to prepare our children for the future. The funny thing about this idea (or perhaps it is not that funny) is that we live in times of accelerating change. Less and less can we rely on our past knowledge and experience in trying to figure how the future will unfold and how to best prepare our children for a future that, at least from where we stand today contains more unknowns than certainties.
In 2050, the children we invite to our College today will be in their forties. How would life be then? Just to give a taste of how the 2050s might be, take a ten minute look at this: Mars Colonization Timeline. Could you imagine that? Your child electing to take residence on a human colony on another planet? How can we prepare them for that? If you think this is too radical, that it verges on science fiction, think again. There is a high probability that Mars colonization is going to take place during the lifetime of our children. And this is only one example. These children will have to navigate their way in a world where intelligent machines, many of which already exceed human capabilities, become part of everyday life, where jobs, even hi-level ones become progressively automated and where breakthroughs in biological sciences, medicine, nanotechnology, robotics and other disciplines will offer new opportunities and challenges. We could go on with a long list of factors that are going to radically transform human life and make it fascinating, challenging and complex in ways we really find hard to predict. This is already happening today.
In our Buckminster College we do not see this situation as a problem but rather as a great opportunity to rethink our approach to education moving forward from ideas mostly rooted in the age of the industrial revolution to ideas that fit a great age of adventure and exploration that is coming upon us. In his already seminal talk, sir Ken Robinson says: ‘My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.’ Creativity and the pursuit of knowledge are two wonderful human gifts that must always be cultivated together and intertwined.
What we hope to achieve in our programmes, is to invoke in our Students a spirit of adventure, exploration and pursuit of knowledge. Where the future is the vast ocean of the unknown hiding both unimaginable treasures and perils and where the sciences and technology are the powerful vessels and navigation tools that will carry them into open horizons as far as their imagination can go – to infinity and beyond… We couldn’t say it better than how this forward thinker Buckminster Fuller has already said it in his inspiring ‘Great Pirates’ allegory (1969):
I call these sea mastering people the great outlaws or Great Pirates-the G.P. ‘s simply because the arbitrary laws enacted or edicted by men on the land could not be extended effectively to control humans beyond their shores and out upon the seas. So the world men who lived on the seas were inherently outlaws, and the only laws that could and did rule them were the natural laws-the physical laws of the universe which when tempestuous were often cruelly devastating. […] Their battles took place out of sight of landed humanity. Most of the losers went to the bottom utterly unbeknownst to historians. Those who stayed on the top of the waters and prospered did so because of their comprehensive capability. That is they were the antithesis of specialists. They had high proficiency in dealing with celestial navigation, the storms, the sea, the men, the ship, economics, biology, geography, history, and science. The wider and more long distanced their anticipatory strategy, the more successful they became. (Emphasis added.)
This is how our Players and Students might be prepared to meet a future unknown to us — a daring imagination that goes hand in hand with a solid foundation of knowledge and how to pursue it without fear.