Empathy for the Future

Image by Stanford d.School

In our continued exploration of the Five Approaches to Futures Thinking by Stanford d.School, let’s delve into the next approach: “Empathy for the Future.” As educators, every pedagogical choice we make is rooted in our assumptions about what the future holds. But what if, instead of just predicting or projecting the future, we also deeply felt and empathized with those who will inhabit it?

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Worldbuilding

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Image by Stanford d.School

As we journey through the Five Approaches to Futures Thinking by Stanford d.School, let’s step into the captivating space of “Worldbuilding.” The previous approach, “Tracing Change Across Time” encouraged us to break away from linear perceptions and cultivate an understanding of patterns and shifts over time. Worldbuilding takes us further by allowing us to envision the future in rich, imaginative detail.

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MonoNeon: The Unsung Futurist of Music

Photo by Atiba Jefferson

Futures thinking is often associated with technologists, economists, and thought leaders. However, Lisa Kay Solomon’s recent article discussing Taylor Swift as a futurist got me thinking. What musical artists inspire me that operate with a futurist mindset?

An artist like MonoNeon, a Memphis-based musician known for his fluorescent fashion sense and his inventive bass guitar playing immediately came to mind.

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Tracing Change Across Time

Image by Stanford d.School

Our journey through the Five Approaches to Futures Thinking by Stanford d.School brings us to “Tracing Change Across Time.” This approach invites us to see our present moment as a part of an ever-evolving narrative, where both subtle shifts and disruptive events shape our collective future.

We often perceive the future as an extension of the present, visualizing it as something similar to today, only marginally different. This linear perception of time restricts our understanding. Time is much more complex and dynamic than a straight line stretching out before us. Change isn’t always a slow, predictable crawl nor is it a consistent speedy progression; sometimes, it’s an exponential leap that disrupts our expectations.

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Seeing in Multiples

Image by Stanford d.School

In the ever-changing landscape of the future, it is essential for educators to equip young learners with the skills of “seeing in multiples.” This concept, part of the Futures Thinking Approaches developed at the Stanford d.School, emphasizes the need to embrace the dynamic and pluralistic nature of the future, where multiple trajectories, scenarios, and possibilities coexist.

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Five Approaches to Futures

Design Credit: Avanear Studios

My journey into futures thinking began in early 2021 when I came across the FutureVersary project from Stanford d.School ‘s K12 Lab. This led me to discover an enlightening Medium article by Ariel Raz, Head of Learning Collaborations at the K12 Lab Network. All this resulted in the realization of the importance of teaching futures thinking in K-12 classrooms.

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Web3 Learning at My Middle School

How an NFT club provided an opportunity for middle schoolers to explore web3

In January 2022, at the height of the crypto and NFT buzz, I decided to do something radical at my middle school. I started an NFT club. At our assembly, nestled between the chess club, yoga flow, and “Sew Awesome,” I put up this slide to pitch this club to our 100 middle school students.

Afterward, I anxiously waited for the sign-ups or the possible lack of them. My initial fear was that none of the students would be interested in doing this. I knew there were a few students who knew of crypto from my investing club in the fall. I had also overheard a couple of students mention the “right-click save” phenomenon. I still wondered to myself if there were enough middle schoolers interested in spending a half hour every week talking about jpegs.

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Teaching with Miss Ann

Improvising Versus Experimenting

In a previous blog post, I wrote about experimenting in education. This was based on ideas I discovered in the book Two Beats Ahead. In this book, the authors describe experimenting as the act of “daring to suck.”

As a musician turned educator I am very comfortable trying new things and then seeing what works, iterating, and discarding the elements that aren’t benefitting student learning. I have discovered that this “relentless commitment” is a key skill in teaching. However, it can also go against the natural instincts of many teachers to backward plan in order to design perfectly constructed learning experiences.

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Fireflies, Education, and the Future

What do fireflies have to do with education, society, and the future?

The Firefly Problem

In a recent episode of “People I (Mostly) Admire,” host Steven Levitt interviewed applied mathematician Steven Strogatz. Strogatz was explaining the phenomenon of the pteroptyx, a Southeast Asian firefly that will synchronously light up along the mangrove forests throughout the year.

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Robots x Humans

The future of education will be humans partnering with artificial intelligence to co-create. I prototyped this partnership by building a multi-day lesson plan using a chatbot. Through this collaboration I was able to address the following needs that are common to many education professionals:

  1. Using time more efficiently
  2. Incorporating problem-solving and creative thinking
  3. Building scaffolded instruction
  4. Real-world application
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The Magic of the Hidden

By the Way

As a musician and educator, I source a lot of insights about my craft from the world of music. One recent insight came from an interview with John Frusciante guitarist in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He discussed how his guitar playing on the album “By the Way” was influenced by Eddie Van Halen. This helped me realize that instruction focused on content loses the magic of what is hidden.

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Happy Web 3 Birthday to Me

This week marks my 1 year anniversary in web3. My web3 birth was on 11/10/21 when I became the owner of the ENS domain dagan.eth. Unless you count the ethereum I purchased to exchange for the domain, it’s the first token I ever purchased on the blockchain. The transaction hash is:

0xd74948b90bf7d85d6b88d934594f6e49901e992a8c964c070eff9ddd62715a57

Since then, I have reached a number of important personal milestones:

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Pedagogy > Technology: Anyone, Anyone

Preface

This is part 3 of a series of articles on the emerging concept of ed3. As a curious and creative educator, my goal is to thoughtfully examine how web3 technologies will impact education in our changing world. Before I dig into this final piece of the ed3 puzzle I encourage you to read my first two articles on this topic. The first article introduces the idea of ed3. The second article lays out why ownership of student identity is important in this emerging ecosystem. This final article will speak to pedagogy and equity. 

Link to my previous articles here:

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Fight the Power: Decentralization and Ownership

Preface

This is part 2 of a series of articles on the emerging concept of ed3. As a curious and creative educator, my goal is to thoughtfully examine how web3 technologies will impact education in our changing world.

To learn more check out my previous article: At the Turning Point: Web3 and Education

The Question at Hand

At the conclusion of my last blog post article, I closed with two questions that educators need to consider as we transition into the web3 space. One was about ownership, and the other was about pedagogy and equity. In this piece, I will focus on the following question: How decentralized technologies allow learners to own their education?

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