Walking backwards into the future


Image by J Shook on Wikimedia Commons
I learnt a lot during my two weeks in New Zealand, where I was working with the staff of Auckland University of Technology. New Zealand is culturally very rich, not least because of the pervasive Maori influence. Their language in particular is appropriated regularly in every day conversation. Kia Ora for example, is the greeting most commonly heard.

But one Maori expression will stay with me for ever because it has a more profound meaning than a simple welcome or a hello. It is ka mura, ka muri  - which means 'walking backwards into the future'. The Maori always honour their ancestors, and they know that because there is no way they can predict the future accurately, they call upon the wisdom of their ancestors to guide them.

When we consider the future we tend to strain our minds to imagine what will come next. And usually we fail miserably. Perhaps instead we should follow the Maori tradition and build our own future on the shoulders of giants. In the case of education and the future of learning we should consider what those who have gone before us have achieved, the lessons they learnt and the trajectory they have set us on.

The future is uncertain. Nothing is guaranteed except change, and even the jobs we will see emerging in the next decade or two cannot be accurately anticipated. The future is imaginary. All we can do is imagine the demands that will be placed on those who follow in our paths. But the past is our collective memory and we could do far worse than pay heed to the wisdom we already have at our fingertips. We can observe the rapid changes that have recently occurred and deduce that the pace of that change will increase exponentially.

We therefore need to educate our children to be resilient, agile, critical and proactive. They will need to solve problems we may inadvertently have made for them as well as new problems of their own making. They will need to schieve this collectively because surviving the future will be a team sport. They will need to be creative too, and learn the lessons of our failures and successes as they in turn walk backwards into their future.

Creative Commons License
Walking backwards into the future by Steve Wheeler was written in Auckland, New Zealand and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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