When we teach futures to youth, do we teach them how to design their own future, or how to embrace uncertainty?

Hanze University

This is a relevant question for futures teaching and thinking in every context, but it especially became apparent a couple of weeks ago in a project called WorkInProgress: a long term project initiated by Oxfam the Netherlands, where local youth organizations in Nigeria, Somaliland and Egypt collaborate on preparing the next generation on the youngest and fastest growing continent for a job market that is anything but certain, if existing at all. One of the capabilities that the youth organizations (PoiseNigeria, Shaqodoon) are being trained in, is Futures Literacy: the skill to imagine multiple futures to look at the present new. Although not an official part of the Futures project, it does resemble its purpose: how can futures literacy and futures thinking contribute to the choices young people are making? For the African continent this means perhaps a greater sense of urgency… where an uncertain jobmarket is closely linked to the local context, the future of the country, the economic development of the continent and global power dynamics. The need to solve problems can feel contradicting to becoming more open to emergence in the present. But this might be a false dichotomy: after all, for youth to make better informed decisions, they need to plan and prepare, and keep an eye open for opportunities that lie in the unexpected. For young people, this starts with the idea that the future is not something that is fixed, or written in stone. That the narratives told by adults, do not have to be the futures they themselves want or need. Two weeks ago, Futures partner HUAS started the learning journey of WiP! In Somaliland, where they trained ten youth workers and educators in Futures Literacy. They, in return will educate the Somali youth in Futures Literacy, as an essential 21st century skill. The desired outcomes? Imagination, creativity, critical thinking and …. empowerment. Skills that, no matter your age or cultural background, everybody could use when entering unknown territory (aka the future).

People with certificates in front of buliding