Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.
A future for our students or not?
June 27th, 2008

This afternoon my colleague, Wayne, and I were chatting in the car on the way home. Wayne mentioned that he had read that if we look far enough into the universe we should eventually be able to see the back of our head as the universe folds back on itself, apparently. I mentioned I would like to be around if instantenous interstellar travel was ever invented. A few of the places I would like to visit are depicted below.

The Andromeda Galaxy. Photography by DJMcGrady. Some rights reserved.

The Horsehead Nebula and Flame. Photography by DJMcGrady. Some rights reserved.

The Great Nebula In Orion. Photography by DJMcGrady. Some rights reserved.

Of course, things would look a little different given that the light visible in these photographs may have taken hundreds or thousands of light years to reach Earth.

Thinking about the universe reminded me of the relative insignifcance of the planet Earth. Then the thought crossed my mind that its most civilised inhabitants are quite strange. The human race has missed the point. If we were truly an intelligent species would we be working five or more days a week for most of our lives? Would an intelligent species establish a society that is directly contributing to the demise of its planet via climate degradation? Would an intelligent species war with itself?

Global Warming. Mind Map prepared by Learning Fundamentals.

Then, thinking about global warming, mass extinctions of plant and animal species, peak oil, melting ice-caps and so on I wonder what will the current generation of students inherit after we shake off our mortal coils? Some of the more recent predictions regarding the health of this planet are rather dire. The planet is not in good shape.

How long will the human race be around for? Will we ever reach the stars? Will the human race see out the next 1000 years? The next 100 years?

2 Responses to “A future for our students or not?”

  1. Jane Genovese Says:

    It is worrying when you hear scientists such as Dr James Hansen say that this is our last chance to take action otherwise ‘we’re toast’.

    As a 24 year old, I am worried about our future. But if I stay in the depths of despair, I know I can’t be effective. I know I can’t take action.

    So I like to think of the words of economist E.F. Schumacher:

    ‘Can we rely on it that a ‘turning around’ will be accomplished by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world?

    This question is often asked, but whatever answer is given to it will mislead.

    The answer “yes” would lead to complacency; the answer “no” to despair. It is desirable to leave these perplexities behind us and get down to work’

  2. John Larkin Says:

    Hi Jane, Thank you for the comment and thank you for creating that incredible MindMap. I agree… we all simply need to get down to work.

    In terms of education I feel that curriculum needs to be amended so that students everywhere our taught knowledge and practical skills concerning renewable energies, climate change, and so on. We should also be teaching students how to be resilient, more articulate, public speakers, etc.

    I hope that the message that is now being articulated by more scientists, politicians and thinkers is listened to by people with the resources and drive to set the wheels of change in motion.

    Cheers, John.