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  • Writer's pictureSeth Harrell

Teach the Future in Springfield, MO

Many public school districts in Missouri utilize a nationally recognized program created by the Center for Advanced Professional Studies. CAPS, as it is known, allows high-schoolers the opportunity to work on special projects with local businesses to gain real-world learning experiences. Springfield, MO is one of the hubs for the Greater Ozarks CAPS program which brings students in from area districts several days a week. The student internships are also supplemented by guided classroom discussions focused on skills such as business problem solving and design thinking, and features guest speakers from a variety of vocations. I was recently given the opportunity to lead two classes using the Futures Thinking Playbook provided by the Teach the Future.

Teach the Future is a non-profit online library that exists to help teachers promote skills that will not only help young people of today understand the possibilities and implications of the future they will live in, but use the future as a tool for learning important skills like critical thinking, understanding linear vs. exponential change, systems thinking, evaluating implications of change, and creativity. I like to tell students that I vividly recall sitting in my high-school history class and wondering why there weren't also classes about the future, which seemed equally as important to me.

The students were very responsive to the material and had many questions. I was also fortunate to have my fellow University of Houston - Foresight graduate, Lena Young, to help present and field questions during the group activities. In addition to Play #6 from the Playbook, we briefly used the future thinker archetypes from Views of the Future in Play #1 to help the students understand that people naturally think about the future in different ways.

The first session went so well that another CAPS teacher for engineering-focused students heard about the morning session and decided to bring his entire class to the afternoon session, doubling the classroom size. The engineering teacher made the afternoon session even better because it turned out that he had personally participated in a 100-year space engineering future ideation team for McDonnell-Douglas in the 1990s. We asked him to share some of that experience with the class which was a great way to close our session and reinforce the importance of future-thinking.

One student in particular was so interested in the material presented that I was requested by the teacher to come back to have a one-on-one session where we took a deeper dive into future thinking topics.

If any other Ozarks educators are interested in incorporating Teach the Future material, don't hesitate to visit the website or contact me directly!


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