Today I have been pondering future trends for our planet - the exciting possibilities and the growing negative impact of mankind on the planet. I was looking at the Futurist Magazine's forecast for 2008 and beyond, and it all seemed pretty grim stuff. Yet the outcome can be altered by us - one person at a time. Tony Ryan refers to this as the ripple effect. This ripple can alter the course of history. In terms of leadership, each of us has an important role to play. Educators can explore some of these issues in more depth with their students eg the water wars of the future... As leaders, whatever our role, we need to be constantly scanning the future, discussing our preferred futures and working towards those futures. We need to be leaders who take a stand, who get on with things, who are not happy with the status quo, who take risks....as Seth Godin suggests, become a heretic.
The OECD Book Trends Shaping Education 2008 is one useful reference for thinking about where we are headed. It poses some interesting questions at the end of each section. For example, in the section Towards Web 2.0? it talks of the following: "With the increase of user-created content, the Internet is no longer just about down-loading - up-loading is becoming important too." It then poses the questions: "Is this undermining the status of schools and established curriculum knowledge or is it reinforcing the quality of education? Or instead is it not especially relevant to the core business of education?" What do you think?
If the trends indicate that there is a steady increase in self expression you can bet that students, colleagues, employees and society in general are going to want an increased say, and to tailor their environments to meet their needs. At the same time we need to look at this in the context of the social world and be aware of the intricate interdependencies of our planet. This is not an either/or approach - rather an and/both approach. We need to manage these polarities - and understanding ourselves and others will never be more important.