Creating Your Educational Future Means Calculating the Impacts: The Case of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

… the impacts of how the future you want may play out.

The last post was of the Futures Wheel futuring strategem. A related technique is the Cross Impact Matrix.

It is what it sounds like; call it a spreadsheet if you will. It is a device to help futurists project the probable outcomes and impacts on people, systems, or groups that could be affected by the future you are aiming for.

Let’s take up the case of Goldilocks. She has had an argument with her parents and has run away. She wanders into the forest and comes upon the the Three Bears’ house. She is curious, hungry, and tired and wants badly to go into the house. The possible futures she is considering are to enter their house or not to enter their house.

Now look at the graphic:


I apologize for the quality of the graphic but I’ve no doubt you see how this works:

1. You put the probable futures under consideration along the vertical axis.

2. You put the people, groups, systems, sub-systems, premises likely to be affected by the  probable futures you are considering along the horizontal axis.

3. You, hopefully in groups, begin to fill in the boxes to show how you project how the future will impact or effect the the people, groups, systems, sub-systems, premises you have identified.

4. Doing so helps the futures-based educator to begin to plan for the consequences of the future they prefer.

Here is another model: Last week Apple announced that it was going into education by making it easy to download e-texts to their IPads. As a futures-based educator how do you project the possibility / probability of moving towards giving every student an IPad?

Before you do this, and this is fodder for future posts. What would be the your preferable future? For example, do you project this probability as an opportunity to re-tool your educational system to promote an instructional program grounded in the P21 framework and / or do you consider the preferability of saving textbook expenditure monies? The sample cross impact matrix below is limited of course by space considerations. Go ahead, give it a try,

IPad Cross Impact

The Devil’s in the Details or It’s the Implementation that Scares me.

Those of you familiar with the futures forecasting technique below will need to bear with me as I begin to introduce futures forecasting techniques as they may be appropriate.

In the previous post I said I was fine with the P21 model. It recognizes the need to retain that which is good about our present education system; welds it with a universal mindset of higher expectations and then most laudably, identifies its most important paradigm by coalescing competencies and literacies cores that are grounded in its best estimation of what the future will require of 21st century citizens, American -based or global – based, your call.

And the yes-but was my wondering aloud of how or whether the translation from the theoretical to the real will be successful. We all know that the latest “innovations du jour” often flop in our society because of our near universal attention deficit order syndrome that demands that a change be quick and easy.

So, if thoughtful educational planners mean to make this or any other worthy futures oriented model take root we have have to consider those 3 P’s I wrote to in a much earlier post: What’s Possible?. What’s Probable? What’s Preferable?

For sure, most things save making pigs fly, are possible. But that won’t probably happen. The probable part requires some analytical thinking; data analysis, etc. I

It’s what’s preferable that counts. And so working backwards, which by the way is another likely futures forecasting strategy I will speak to in later post (see Cornish), if we know what we want (vision?), what we prefer, then we need to chart all the 3 P’s to recognize what might happen along the way and more specifically, what path we prefer to follow.

The futures wheel below begins to in the most rudimentary terms, lay out the 3 P’s of implementing P21.

For those of you unfamiliar with this process the first point to remember that the graphic below is NOT a brainstorm activity! For sure, there are more nearly right and more nearly wrong “forecasts” in all these little circles. That is when thoughtful dialogue and assessment of points of view must be filtered lest you write any old thing down.

But aside from that proviso there are relatively few procedures to remember:

1. Put the “future” or the development you are considering in the center of the wheel.

2. Begin to project the possibilities, probabilities that you foresee in the circles next to the center.

3. Begin to project the possibilities / probabilities OF the possibilities / probabilities.

4. When you think that you have a good sample, put a check in what you think that are likely probable futures.

5. Then put a star in those forecasts that you think are most preferable!

Here is an example.

1. Mary wants to go out with John. Put that in the center of a futures wheel.

2. There are at least three futures to write into circles around the center

– ask him out

– ask a friend to ask him out for her

– never ask him out

3. Now project probabilities from those:

– ask him out – he says yes, he says no

– ask a friend to ask him out for her – he says yes, he says no, he goes out with Mary’s friend

– never ask him out – he asks her out, Mary pines away.

Take a look at the Futures Wheel below. It is very rudimentary for sure but now it gives you a chance to “fill in the blanks” yourself.

So what might an implementation of P21 look like for us? What do you think? What do you think about your own futures-based thinking?



“The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Invent it.” Return to the P21 Model

That quote belongs to Alan Kay, a Xerox Corporation visionary whom Steve Jobs admired very much (Kindle, 12476).

And it brings me back to the P21 model I am using as a baseline for exploration of a futures based school system.

We will get back to the other process / thinking skills systems more specifically as the foundation for the P21 model and for interdisciplinary curriculum design. However I thought it was a wise time to pause for a blogging moment to remind myself and the reader  that the vision behind these cyber – conversations is to create a tipping point (see Malcom Caldwell!) or a critical mass that makes the conversion from inadequate schooling and backwards facing curricula (see Toffler) to schools and school systems, however constituted, that prepare children for the future we choose to design instead of a future that happens TO them.

The link below contains a brief audio of Tim Magner, Executive Director of P21 who was interviewed by the American Way Magazine.

In it he argues that their model, a combination of as he puts it “the 3 Rs,” plus specific new core competencies is well suited to invent that future we all should want.

I think that some would argue that Magner’s rationale may be too economically based. That is, the model he advocates has its justification in the needs of our economy’s restructuring to the benefit of our students and to their eventual employers.

Perhaps some would say that in the United States, education’s rationale may be partially economic but that it is also grounded in citizenship values and in producing well rounded individuals.

I can embrace both points of view since I do not think they are mutually exclusive. But as a person I once worked with often said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” When he used it , he was basically saying that if one wants X or Y to happen then one will have to work very hard and very wisely to make it thus.

That is my fear of the P21 model. It’s fine. I support it.

It’s the implementation that scares me.

American Way Magazine interview

Listen to Tim Magner’s interview on American Way Magazine’s Executive Report, which was featured by American Airlines in their November-December issue. Tim explains why 21st Century Skills are cruicial for all employers to consider.

“Ms. President, Should We Launch the Missiles?”

And the value for Edufuturing I think it pretty obvious. Tomorrow’s students will need to make reasoned, futures-oriented, consequence-calculated, choices that must be grounded in clear, moral, and healthy values not only for their good but also for that of the societies they will be leading.

 The decision-making model I offered in the last post was taken from the National Council for Social Studies. It is a great model to “teach” but it is I think really a poor model in practicality.
Think about the decisions we each face every day, from ” Which color socks should I wear?”, to “Should I marry him ?” to ” Should I launch the missiles?”.These sorts of decision-occasions don’t lend themselves to a linear approach as I offered in the previous post.
But if you accept the proposition that we are morally obligated as educators, to have our students practice and master decision making skills then we are equally obligated to use experiential – decision-occasion teaching strategies to ensure that they will be intellectually equipped towards making futures based sound decisions.
I have another blog,, that elaborates on this. But the purpose here is to dramatize the rationale for teaching PAST the content TOWARDS the process of among other systems of thinking skills, decision making.