Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Seeing Visions

A couple of things prompted me writing this post.  On Monday it was my birthday and my son took me for a surprise day out to Kew Gardens, on the south bank of the Thames in south-west London.  As we walked around, we talked about the vision of the landscape gardeners who planted up the gardens.  Kew was founded in 1840 as a 9 acre botanic garden that contained various buildings such as the Orangery, Pagoda and Ruined Arch.  Later George III employed the garden architect Capability Brown to landscape the park. The gardeners of the 19th century never saw the park the way we do today - with huge mature trees - when they planted they knew they would never see the gardens in their full glory, and they certainly could have had no idea that it would be listed today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 30,000 different kinds of plants, but they were visionaries, thinking not just of their own lifetimes but of creating something for the generations to follow them.

Today Kew is still looking to the future.  It's a botanical research centre and has the largest plant collection in the world.  Kew is also home to the Millennium Seed Bank which opened in 2000 to store the world's seeds as an "insurance policy" against the extinction of plants in the wild.  In the future, if necessary, these seeds can be germinated and reintroduced to the wild.  In its first 9 years, the MSB stored seeds from all of the UK's native plant species, and it now aims to conserve 25% of the world's plant species by 2020.

This weekend also marks the 200 year anniversary of the death of Humphry Repton, a landscape gardener from Bury St Edmunds (where I'm currently staying at Mum's) who designed many of the gardens in London's "squares", for example Russell Square.  Repton moved from Bury to Romford, where I also used to live, and was the first to coin the term "landscape gardener".

Visionaries are interesting people - they think about what the future will or could be like and plan the future with imagination.  They are different and more expansive than innovators, who are focused more on new ideas, devices and methods to improve things today.

And this got me thinking about who are today's visionaries in education.  Are they people or are they schools?  Frequently we are planning for a future just a few years away in education (schools are planning to get students into college for example), and yet if we take a much larger picture - a whole life or even several generations, as our landscape gardeners did - what impact could this have on education?

The second thing that prompted me to write this post was that I got an email this morning from someone who participated in a workshop I did 2 years ago asking me for a link to a video I used about what life will be like in 2028 - the time when students who were in KG in 2016 would be leaving school.  This video contains interesting trends, and questions and as I'm thinking about them I'm sharing the video again on this blog.  And I'm asking the question:  what are our visions for the future of education - not just for our currently students but for the life of our children's children?

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