Thinkin’the future


How do we have to think (about) the future?
How can we think about the future?
What does “future” means?

Here are some very inspiring speeches, taken from the rich and powerful archive of ,  hoping that they can help us to find our path: We will see the future as it is told by an astronomer, a psychologist and a very particular entrepreneur. We’ll explore the future from a cosmic perspective, from a children point of view, and through the sight of our personal future-self.

At least, they will offer us some questions to start with.

1. Martin Rees: Is this our final century?

Speaking as both an astronomer and “a concerned member of the human race,” Sir Martin Rees examines our planet and its future from a cosmic perspective. He urges action to prevent dark consequences from our scientific and technological development.

Lord Martin Rees
  one of the world’s most eminent astronomers, is an emeritus professor of cosmology and astrophysics at the University of Cambridge and the UK’s Astronomer Royal. He is one of our key thinkers on the future of humanity in the cosmos. Full bio
 # Comprehension: 
– what is Sir Rees talking about?
– what’s the aim of the project of his research group?
– what does the symbol of the snake represent?
– What does it means the symbol at the bottom?
– why is the 21st century so “special” in the very long history of the universe?
– what are the two challenges that Sir Rees indicate for the science of our century?
# Discussion:
– what do you think about Mr. Rees’s vision?
– do you agree with his concern? (why’)
– wich processes, dynamics, institutions characterizing our civilization could represent the biggest dangers for the survival of the planet?
– who is responsible?
– what’s our role in these circumstances, as individuals and as citizens?

2. Richard Neville: How can we give our kids a brighter future?

To better understand child development, Richard Neville decided to see the world from a child’s point of view. What did he observe? Children want to learn, and we might just be getting in their way…

Richard is founder of Animl, a new kind of agency that brings together innovation and storytelling. He believes in the power of purpose: the need for brands to take on social causes and contribute to issues their consumers care about. In a world in which corporate entities can be as influential as governments, he is convinced that consumers will prefer to support brands that put good things in the world.

# Comprehension: 
– what is Mr. Neville talking about?
– what kind of company does he run?
– what’s the aim of the research project he describes?
– For wich reasons does he think that children are so important in relation to future?
– What does all the children have in common, according to this research?
– What kind of problems/limits does he indicate in relation of the children of our times?
# Discussion:
– Do you feel yourself already out of childhood? or do you feel still a child? why?
– How do you judge the world that the previous generations have given to you?
– How do you judge the education you have received/you are receiving?
– Who has some responsibility (and which responsibility?) in the relationship between generations?

3. Dan Gilbert The psychology of your future self

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”
Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case.
# Comprehension: 
– what is Dr. Gilbert talking about?
– what are the main concepts in his speech?
– he shows a few graphics: what do they mean?
– what does he mean by “end-of-history-illusion”?
– What is the difference between the behavior of a young person and an old one, according to his researches?
# Discussion:
– Why does “Time” is so important?
– How does this dynamic of our psychology affect our happiness?
– Do you feel well represented by the theory of Dr. Gilbert?
– …

4. Let’s work on it.

  • These three speeches have shown three very different perspectives, from which we can think our future. Of course there could be many others.
  • Now it’s time for us to get into the debate, and say what and how we do think the future:
    • please reflect on the given inputs and choose one particular item/topic/idea which you think is especially important and meaningful.
      It could be one of the suggested  or a new and personal one;
      just be sure that your topic has any “philosophical” implication/interest
      (why should be talking about it in a philosophy class?)
    • find a picture (take one by yourself or search one on the internet) that can well represent the issue you have chosen: it could be a painting, a movie frame, a graphic, a comic….).
    • prepare a 2 minutes presentation to describe, deep and discuss the chosen topic and your point of view.
      You also can (but don’t need to)  build a brief power point or keynote or preezy, to help yourself.
    • in the next lesson, every student will deliver his/her presentation to the class.
    • afterward,  we will discuss them: so, while your mates are presenting their thoughts, you need take notes of your observations, objections, questions and ideas.
    • we will vote for the four best presentations…. so, do your best.
    • and we will vote also the four more interesting ideas.
    • every student will get a grade for his/her presentation (valuing contents and form): the quality of your English will matter only in positive

5. Workgroup

  • Let’s build four workgroups: one for each selected (more voted) idea
  • Each group has now to investigate and deep the idea… from a philosophical point of view:
    • what are the involved concepts?
    • what kind of problems/questions arise from that topic?
    • what kind of relationships can we notice between the topic and the philosophy we have learned?
    • can we find any trace of an existing debate about it?
    • how could we approach these problems/questions?
    • do we have any idea for a solution?
  • focus on this: we are not wizards! we don’t  have to predict the future, but to problematize the topic, look for questions and implications (moral, metaphysical, logical, epistemological, esthetical…)
  • The goal is to prepare a 5 minutes presentation:
    • the form of the presentation is free: it could be a traditional one, a speech, a theater piece, a song, a video (documentary, fiction, short movie, animation…) , any kind of art-perfrmance… be creative.

6. Utopia and Dystopia

  • This last part of the module works as a  “driven discussion” or an interactive class
  • teacher try to involve students trough two apparently opposed literary and philosophical genres, discovering how they deeply coincide
  • at the heart of this opposition/coincidence lies the couple criticism/desire: two ideas wich we can identify as the eternal engine not only of philosophy, but also of human life, conscience and action.
  • see the handout:::
  • Here are some brief but interesting and inspiring TED lessons:
  1. Alex Gender, How to recognize a Dystopia

2. Roey Tzezana, How science fiction can help predict the future



Un pensiero su “Thinkin’the future

  1. Mr. Neville essentially discusses how children perceive their world and their surroundings in a way never to be looked into before. In fact, he actually claims that children are not so “crazy” at all, possibly due to their attitudes, but that they get in touch with the world differently than we would except. And what we can highlight today and mark it as truly noticeable is that children should comply with so many laws, regardless of their mind, but under a positive point of view, given that they have a better-plan calendar of the so-called to-do list, taking advantage of every opportunity offered to them. Nevertheless, in such a world with so many rules, never have we truly proven that brilliant intuitions come out of a restrictive society, but that everyone needs not to be affected by someone else’s obligation to fulfill his thinking, developing new revolutionary ideas as a consequence.
    Neville runs a business concerning child-developments; his company invents a “cutting-edge camera” able to capture how children see the world and how they approach towards it. He also claims that children learn from everything and we should make no assumption on whether a child can become clever regardless of the environment he lives in, but that he actually requires a society capable of appreciating his ideas and prompting his brain to embrace positive skills in a world which is getting tougher and tougher.
    Next generations will tackle hard problems of a magnitude never seen before, thus they should be able to decide themselves what to undertake in the next future, without being forced to do it on their own. To live in such a postmodern world, we need whichever skill, such as: adaptability, creativity, autonomy and initiative; as Neville pointed out. In order that our children, the children of the future, can take control of their life, without being affected from others at all, the only thing that needs to be done is to permit them to choose ranging from a scale of increasingly difficulty, so that one day they can meet their expectations.
    In extremely demanding situations next generations will be therefore able to act for the better, opting for the most convenient choice – if there’s only one – not worsening further what is going on.
    R. Neville admits that every child has:” the potential for a brighter future” – quoting him -; making it possible for every child to contribute “to the very best of their ability”.
    Children, as limited category of human beings, match to each other perfectly from all over the earth, having in common every typical features. That means that irrespective of their origin they actually are all the same. They enjoy the better of our society, avoiding “bad things”. But, as I would suggest, there something more intriguing about it: it is always true that children aged three years can develop even negative aspects laughing at somebody else’s misfortune.
    Children of our time, as described before, have so intensive scheduled plans that they should respect rules, but that makes it hard for them to have their own space of time in which to be themselves.
    In the society of technologies, we can’t help speaking about smartphones and how irresponsibly children use them, isolating themselves, without experiencing joyful things of childhood and related-recreational activities…

    Mi piace


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