My response to the what is futures thinking in eduction is a combination of teachers defining their own goals and pursuing them through the development of personal learning networks (PLNs) while at the same time administrators, program directors, professional development leaders, essentially all other stakeholders working together in order to create the affordances necessary for teachers to pursue their own goals. A common discourse among all stakeholders based on current research will be required but the means in which teachers develop their PLN and interact with others will be open. In fact, the future of education will see increased opportunities to interact with others, and although this seems like a simple notion, this shift in culture – one that makes teaching practice a more transparent learning process – in many cases is far from simple. The future involves working through change like no other time in history.
Why is it important that we focus more on the teachers than students? And why is it more important that teachers learn how to define their own professional development paths (with the support of other stakeholders)? We focus on teachers because we can’t expect to increase student achievement if we can’t implement a change in teaching practices. Also, teachers have more options than ever before to interact with and learn from others, both within their own school as well as outside their own school. Old paradigms that involve top-down directives rarely have long-lasting affects on changing teachers’ behavior because learning doesn’t happen within isolated instances (e.g., workshops, meetings, conferences, etc.), usually with the assumption that all teachers have the same level of knowledge and pedagogical skill set. Learning – indeed changing one’s teaching practice – is more complex and ongoing and must be approached through a diverse set of assumptions. The primary assumption is that professional development evolves around a rhizomatic education.