Article Eleven

Futures-Oriented Education from Present Moment Acceptance & Participation

Only when we understand ourselves as intrinsically connected with all that is, can we begin to accept and forgive reality as it currently is. From this place of acceptance and participation will come the creative solutions to our most urgent problems.

A transformative education paradigm is inherently ‘futures’ oriented. There is a natural focus on how learners’ development will contribute to the world we are creating. With this comes a natural critique of the current systemic problems in our societies. This might include social inequality, climate change, extreme relativism, environmental destruction, crime, political polarization and many others. In an earnest effort to address these problems, we educators can easily teach and mentor young people into an attitude of opposing problems without leading them first in the hard work of acceptance. This may be because we have not fully engaged in this inner work ourselves.

There is a growing understanding that healthy and integrated action or change first requires a full acceptance of current reality (including the shadow) and a realization that we are not separate from it. 

In a paradigm in which we are separate and discrete beings we will naturally engage in change from a place of opposition, anger, frustration or fear. These actions often result in lateral transitions in culture rather than transformation. They might even create more problems than they solve. One regime replaced by another, one prison for another, one finite game for another. This is exemplified in many political revolutions through history and the underlying myth of redemptive violence. The act of separating ourselves from what we see as problems creates a fractured and dualistic reality. Us versus them, humans versus nature, the future versus the present.

The suspension of judgement and de-problematizing of the present reality (personal, cultural, ecological) allows us to both accept it as it is and acknowledge our part in it.

From this more integrated way of ‘being in the world’ we are much better equipped to engage in truly transformative and creative future-oriented actions while remaining present and at peace. We are then humbly transforming ourselves and the world we are intimately a part of rather than posing as a righteous separate actor exerting force on a bad and broken world.

For education to be the transformative experience the future needs it to be, educators must lead the way in their continued personal development. This involves the transition from the dominant paradigm of separation, competition and opposition to one of deep interconnectedness, acceptance and creativity.