According to Peter C. Bishop, Ph.D., there is a hole in the educational curriculum that has been there for a long time. He believes the digital revolution has accelerated change to a point where society must get better at anticipating and influencing what lies ahead. And, in his opinion, the way to do that is to include futures thinking in all of education.
"My vision is that we teach the future as we do the past," he told educators in his keynote address to the 48th Annual Conference of Association for the Advancement of International Education(AAIE) in Boston on Feb. 8, 2014.
Bishop announced to conference attendees that he has formed an organization called Teach the Future (www.TeachTheFuture.org) to tackle this mission. He hopes to sign up educators and community partners who are interested in joining the movement to teach futures thinking in schools, or to encourage others to do so.
Bishop has been teaching foresight and futures studies for over 30 years, primarily as the Director of the University of Houston's Master's program in Foresight. Since he recently retired from that full-time position, he now has the time to pursue a dream he has been nurturing for many years.
"It's not necessary for educators to mount a separate course to teach the future," he says. "It's not even necessary to spend more time teaching the future. Using futures thinking in any subject is a natural way to teach the skills teachers want their students to learn anyway."
Bishop has conducted a number of pilot projects over the years to demonstrate methods of teaching students the concepts of strategic foresight. In 2010, the Center for Houston's Future kicked off its Scenarios 2040 initiative to explore the long-term possibilities for America's fourth largest city. Last year, they enlisted Bishop as a Center Fellow to develop a curriculum in futures studies with an emphasis on scenario planning for high school students. As a first step, Bishop taught a course at Emery High School in Southwest Houston using the Center's scenarios. At the end of the term, the students presented their findings to the Center staff.
"The students clearly got the message about the high stakes," says Catherine Clark Mosbacher, CEO and president of the Center for Houston's Future.
About Peter C. Bishop, Ph.D.
Bishop is president of Strategic Foresight and Development, a firm that offers training and facilitation in strategic foresight (long-term forecasting and planning). He delivers keynote addresses and conducts seminars around the world on the future for business, government and not-for-profit organizations. He also facilitates groups in developing scenarios, visions and strategic plans for the future.
Bishop's client list includes IBM, The NASA Johnson Space Center, Nestle USA, the Shell Pipeline Corporation, the Defense and Central Intelligence Agencies, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for Houston's Future and many more.
He has published two books on the topic of foresight, Thinking About the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight (2007) and Teaching About the Future: The Basics of Foresight Education (2012), both with co-author Andy Hines. Bishop is a founding board member of the Association of Professional Futurists.
Bishop has worked with the AAIE previously, and with the Office of Overseas Schools at the U.S. Department of State that runs an annual workshop on futures thinking for teachers in American schools around the world.
Bishop came to the central campus of the University of Houston in 2005, after teaching futures studies at the UH Clear Lake campus since 1982. He holds a BA in philosophy from St. Louis University, where he also studied mathematics and physics, and a doctoral degree in sociology from Michigan State University. Bishop resides in Houston and is married with two children and two grandchildren.