Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
Welcome to the fourth volume of Future Forwards. The chapters in this
volume share the paradigms, ideas, and practices for sustaining
innovation to ensure relevant learning for our students.
In his new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or, How to Build the
Future, Peter Thiel identifies four views or approaches to the future and
their implications for human action. We have tweaked these to describe
school views and actions.
Indefinite Pessimism - An ‘indefinitely pessimistic’ school looks out at a
bleak future but has no idea what to do about it. For these schools the
golden age is past; things are moving too fast; they don’t know what to
do about the future continuing on as before or hoping that somebody
else can do something about it.
A ‘definitely pessimistic’ school believes that the future can be known and
changed. They approach the future by planning for the worst in order to
weather the storms the future is bound to bring to the exclusion of
planning to change the way things are.
An ‘indefinitely optimistic’ school believes a better future is a kind of
birthright - the future will be better but they don’t consider how this will
be so. Instead of designing for the future, these schools focus on
incremental change, improving efficiency, and optimizing systems.
A ‘definitely optimistic’ school believes the future will be better than the
present. They pursue knowing what can be known about the future in
order to take action. They envision what they want the future to be and
how they might get there. ‘Definitely optimistic’ schools engage in
creating big bold new things that will shape their future (Thiel and