Stories about the Future: Join the Podcast collection!

Stories We’ve Been Told & Our Visions of the Future

The 1982 book “The Whole Kids’ Future Catalog” promised kids of the 1980s that floating schools would surely be the wave of tomorrow.

This September-October 2020, the Equity Unbound community welcomes you to add your voice and reflection to a podcast episode exploring the stories we grew up hearing about technology and education, and how those stories shape our imagination of the future potential for education. 

We draw inspiration from Audrey Watters who joined Anna Smith‘s class mid-September 2020 and shared her memories of flipping through the The Kids’ Whole Future Catalog, a book she had as a child that she can see shaped her imagination of the future of education. You can read her reflections complete with images from the book here

She considered: “who else might have had this guide on their bookshelf” as she thought about the implications of the stories we are told in our youth about what the future entails, and its relation to how we imagine what is possible.

Share your story! 

We invite you to think back to the stories you were told about the future, about technologies and what learning and schools would be like. What are the stories we are telling ourselves now? Record an audio message that shares this story. We will be drawing from as many of our messages as possible for a podcast episode created by Anna Smith’s class. 

Steps to Join

  • Go to https://anchor.fm/educationnow and click Message. 
  • You will be asked to create a login and then you can record your recollection.
  • Please use this script at the beginning of the message so that we know to whom we are listening:
    • Hi, my name is [say a name you wish to share] and I am calling in from [say a location you wish to share]. [Share the story you wish and tell us how you think that story impacts how you think of the future.]

Example: 

“Hi, my name is Anna and I am calling in from the United States of America. A clear memory I have from sixth grade was a week when we were encouraged to not watch TV. The school even had shirts printed up with a TV and a red circle cross-out symbol over it. We took a pledge to not turn on TV and I remember being part of a team of students who delivered pamphlets around the school to remind students of their promise. Why were we not turning on TV for a week? From what I remember hearing over and over, it was that TV would “rot our brains.” It’s gross, but I remember having an image in my mind of a brain-melting. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure my brain did not rot or melt from my TV watching as a child, or even now from my TV streaming binges. 

This story, though no longer about TV and instead about media and screens, is alive and well now. Pre-pandemic there were headlines all the time warning of changes to our brains from reading online or using social media, and I think that has compounded the many fears people have about digital devices in schools. I emphasize pre-pandemic because during work-at-home and emergency remote learning during COVID-19 when so many of us are logging many more hours staring at screens than we used to, it seems the dangers to our brains are somehow not as important as getting our work and school hours in. So, post-pandemic, I am not sure how this story will shift. Will we begin to tell stories about the lost year when our brains atrophied? Will the story expand to include more of our bodies? Or will screens become more prevalent than they are already in our schools and lives so that there is not an option of turning them off? What story will be told then?”

-Anna Smith, PhD, educational researcher & teacher educator blogging about composition in the digital age, contexts for learning, theories of development, and global youth

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