Educating for an Uncertain Future

In this article we'll talk about the knowledge and skills that children and young people should learn. These will help them to prepare for a relatively uncertain and very complex future.
Educating for an Uncertain Future

Last update: 04 June, 2021

We live in an age of constant change. Everything is passing, transforming, transient and ephemeral, so there’s little certainty. Although we don’t know what the future holds, we shouldn’t stop trying to make the present better. So, it’s necessary to educate for an uncertain future. This in order to educate young people to face the future with motivation and a sense of responsibility.

What does uncertainty mean?

Uncertainty is the lack of certainty or confidence about something. It refers to the indefinite, to the absence of principles and unique truths. So, when we don’t have evidence or reliable knowledge about something, we speak of uncertainty. When we feel uneasy, nervous, doubtful, or undecided, we speak of uncertainty.

As a result, uncertainty is linked to all areas of life. This is because it influences human motivation and expectations of daily life. And people need certainty, knowledge, and information to make decisions and act.

Mother with daughter studying as part of educating for an uncertain future.

Sometimes, when uncertainty invades, paralyzes, and immobilizes us, it’s necessary to employ strategies in order to reduce and control it.

Why educate for uncertainty?

Precisely due to what we said in the beginning, an education that factors in uncertainty as a formative element is crucial in our time. Especially as our constantly transforming world is evidence of an unpredictable, uncertain, ambiguous, and complex future.

Therefore, neither the school nor its educators have absolute certainty about what knowledge and skills are necessary for young people to develop in the future.

It’s clear that children and youth in school must learn specific knowledge and techniques, but they must also learn to reconsider, adapt and even modify this knowledge. And they have to do this by taking into account the constant changes and transformations that our social reality is undergoing.

So, educating for an uncertain future, or in an uncertain context, means providing new generations with adequate tools. It also means providing children with values and attitudes so that they can positively face the times we live in. Moreover, they have to be capable to turn uncertainty into a reason for making a better present.

“Knowing and thinking aren’t about reaching an absolutely certain truth, but about dialogue with uncertainty.”

—Edgar Morin—

What does education and pedagogy for an uncertain future look like?

The only certainty we have is that we live in a globalized world mediated by technology and dominated by the economy. We’re part of a global society made up of the clash and coexistence of diverse cultural identities. And we’re, more or less, aware of the multiple social, economic, and political inequalities that do exist in our reality.

Mother talking to son about an uncertain future.

However, in this scenario of probable certainties, the future isn’t so certain, and it’s this scenario that justifies an education based on factors associated with uncertainty as constitutive elements of our reality. We’re speaking of education aimed at training people to think and act based on factors such as instability and uncertainty, or discontinuity and indeterminacy in all social spheres.

A more humanistic education and collaborative pedagogy: keys to educating for an uncertain future

In the above-mentioned social scenario, we require a humanistic education connected to life and based on ethical and moral values.

As a consequence, a more humanistic education requires a pedagogy that sets out teaching-learning situations reconsidering the academic content in terms of real-life problems. We need a pedagogy capable of developing critical thinking in students, a pedagogy that can relativize the knowledge in the light of diverse and often unjust and unfair realities.

Therefore, this type of pedagogy must be methodologically supported by promoting teamwork and interdisciplinary work. Theoretical knowledge of various disciplines and subjects can jointly help students understand and analyze reality.

All of this must always be based on dialogue, debate, and collaborative work. In this way, the new generations will have the possibility to think about methods to improve the present and the future, which, besides being uncertain, is also challenging.

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