Rohit Bhargava and Henry Coutinho-Mason, co-authors of The Future Normal: How We Will Live, Work and Thrive in the Next Decade (2023), focus on building the ‘near future’ that we can imagine, not something entirely esoteric. Carolyn Drebin’s interview with Bhargava in Rotman Magazine’s current issue (Fall 2023) features much that should resonate with educators (K-20).
In talking about the trends that they identify and prod, Bhargava says, “The fact is, the ideas and innovations that catch on and expand are all closely tied to human needs. If you look back through history, you will see that many of our fundamental motivations have barely changed over centuries. The need to feel secure. […] The quest to discover ourselves and develop as individuals. […] People’s fundamental needs evolve at a much slower pace than the innovations that cater to them, if they evolve at all.”
Rather than give away all that this interview offers — and it is well worth your time — allow me to cite just one of what Bhargava and his co-author term ‘Industry Playlists,’ which are ways to consider how trends and behaviours might influence specific industries. They have a playlist for education, filled with ‘what if’ questions that are perfect catalysts for further discussion in schools about the implications of these near-future playlist items that are not wild fantasies, but actionable items into which we are able to transition sooner rather than later, if we are willing.
Industry Playlist: Education
Multiversal Identity—what if we could all be our real and most authentic selves both online and offline?
Immersive Entertainment—what if you could be part of entertainment instead of watching it passively?
Certified Media—what if you could trust the authenticity of the media and content you consume?
Stealth Learning—what if you could educate yourself using the very videos and games that are typically written off as a waste of time?
Ambient Health—what if the buildings that we work in and live in could add to and increase our overall health, as opposed to making us less healthy?
Augmented Creativity—what if artificial intelligence could make humans more creative?
Good Governing—what if [governing board] policies were recognized for actually making [students’ and employees’] lives better?
Impact Hubs—what if your office space could contribute to the local economy and community?
The 15-Minute City—what if every journey in the city was kept to a max of 15 minutes?
Virtual Companionship—what if you could develop a meaningful relationship with an app or robot?
There is much in this playlist that is human-centric, including our ability to imagine it. Imagination has become a leitmotif for us over this past year, whether in our work with independent and international schools, writing blog posts, or leading sessions at conferences. Our growing sense is that we (in schools) have not been using imagination as much as (or as well as) we ought, which somehow feels like a betrayal of childhood, when we’re encouraged to engage our imaginations, experiencing the power that comes with its application. At times, we even got lost in our imaginations. That’s no bad thing.