Friday, April 10, 2020

The Path Into the Future

If you've read here for any length of time, you'll know that I'm dismissive of anyone talking about those mythological jobs of tomorrow. No one can possibly know what jobs the children we teach will be applying for when they start to enter the job market 20 years from now, but there's never a shortage of deep voiced know-it-alls who assert not only that they know what's coming, but how we can best prepare our children for it. During the Industrial Revolution they told parents that their kids better get ready for a future on the assembly line, when I was a boy the future was all about plastics, now our kids are all going to grow into technology careers whether they like it or not. It never comes to pass because no one ever knows the future, except maybe the five-year-olds who will be the ones inventing those jobs of tomorrow, and they're currently quite busy planning their futures as princesses and baseball players.

We've all had occasion to contemplate the future these past couple months as we're living lives very few of us anticipated. Of course, like earthquakes and stock market crashes, pandemics are to be expected, but most of us haven't spent our lives preparing for them. We might have some canned goods and bottled water stashed away on a bottom shelf of the pantry, laid away in anticipation of disasters to come, and I know a few people who live each day as if the sky were about to fall, but most of us choose to not spend our short and precious time here on the planet preparing for doomsday.

Yesterday, a knowledgeable friend predicted that we will be living like this for 12 to 18 months. Another smart friend is insisting that we might as well get used to this, because the pandemics will be coming in waves from now on forcing a complete re-think of how society operates. When I turn on the TV, which I do not recommend, I hear people with power proclaiming that we'll all be back to work by Easter or by May Day or that the schools might still re-open before the end of the school year. I try to listen to experts, people with credentials, people in respectable positions, but they're likewise all over the place to the point that the only ones that seem credible anymore are those saying we're just going to have to do our best with what we know, then wait and see. Or rather, live and see.

When I look back over the sweep of human history, when I contemplate how we got from there to here, I'm taking a hindsight view of a story that now makes perfect sense. As the Grateful Dead sang, "I see now how everything leads up to this day," but for the people who lived our story it was all earthquakes, stock market crashes, and pandemics separated by whatever it was they called "normal." We all, always, live in a present that is as unpredictable as the future. The only real preparation we can ever count on is to remain flexible, cherish our loved ones, find something meaningful to occupy ourselves, do our best, then live and see. That will always be the path into the future.


And now, another in my series of short videos for parents who find themselves suddenly homeschooling their preschoolers. I'm making these videos for parents. If you're a teacher, please feel free to share it with the parents of the children you teach. If you want to watch all of my tips videos, visit the Teacher Tom TV YouTube channel:

I hate to do this, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've just had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 6 months. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the donation button below. 

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