This is week one, with the first of four questions in the Future Views national discussion about cultural learning.
We wanted to know a bit about you
Where are you from?
9 from London; 6 from East Kent; 8 from wider South East; 1 from Delhi, 1 from New Zealand, 1 from Wales
How much of the future will you see?
2 of you are under 16; 4 are aged 16- 30; 15 are aged 30-50; 5 are aged 50- 70
In general, how do you feel about the future?
22 out of 26 of you are negative, 2 neutral, 2 positive
We asked: What do you think are the main changes taking place now that will affect our lives and localities in the future, especially thinking about creativity, culture and education?
The environment is the first thing many of you mentioned:
(The younger you are the more likely this is.)
15 mentions of Climate change
e.g. “climate vulnerability” and “climate chaos tipping points being breached”.
Awareness of other Environmental issues
Mass extinction; Anthropocene era; Ecological destruction and land degradation; Loss of groundwater & topsoil; Loss of Biodoversity x 2; Death of the oceans
Socially, you are most concerned about worsening inequality:
- Economic and social inequality x 2 mentions of this phrase
- Poverty; Cost of living – especially housing costs; Lack of low cost homes; Student debt; Economic disintegration; Class and race stratification.
You are concerned about conflict escalating and affecting refugees:
- War x 3 mentions of the word
- The refugee crisis x 3 mentions
- Mass geographic movements of people.
- “Inequality in society and between countries / regions of the world, political / civil unrest”
- “Growing population and scarcetified resources” (16 yr old)
- “Enlightenment v religion wars”
Politically, you are mostly concerned about a right-wing drift and austerity:
Some common themes:
- Brexit x 7 mentions
- Austerity x 3 mentions (and “NHS being sold off”)
- “Driven by selfish neoliberalism, rampant capitalism and testosterone”; Rise of right-wing nationalism; neoliberal government; Right wing politics and increased militarisation; The rise of the Far Right; Tory government; Neo-liberalism; The logic of late capitalism.
Issues with democracy
One party state; Polarisation of views; Out of touch politicians
Geopolitics; Systemic crises within global capitalism; Aggressive Russia and dubious China; Trump
But a positive note:
The potential for a new democratic socialism.
Technological change is mostly neutral or positive:
- Digital advance/Development of technology x 6 mentions
- Virtual reality x 2 mentions
- Digital economy; Sharing economy
- A shrinking of the world through technology and social media.
- The collapse of old media
- Creative thinking
- Shifts towards peer-to-peer trading, information sharing and tech/manufacturing know-how
- Affordable technology, free internet
- New technological developments including automisation and genetics
- Galactic space travel, driverless cars, solar power, wind power
Changes in education and skills to the detriment of creativity:
- The changing education landscape
- A return to top-down/one size fits all education systems
- A narrow, out-of-date curriculum
- Curriculum focus in education steering away from the arts.
- Interning for free over being paid to work (reducing diversity of cultural sector)
Health and wellbeing was the least common theme:
- Drug resistant microbes
- Mental health
- Genetics (see Technology)
- NHS being sold off (link with Austerity)
- Pressure on NHS with an ageing population
On our general state of mind: “Our growing disconnect with nature, the search for our identities, our effort to understand time – How we are now looking to slow down in a world of fast-paced movement, development, and race.”
We then asked you to expand: What are the impacts of these changes on young people in the future?
Only one of you described positive impacts
In the future, I see young people being curious and inquisitive about the world around them, carving out unique personal identities in their families, communities, and the world. They will discover the distances- between humans and nature, between people and communities, between action and ideas- and will collaborate to bridge them.
Around 8 or 9 of you were neutral or mixed:
- Either Increasing intolerance and division. Or ground up transformation over generations
- [After some negative impacts listed] Potentially, a big enough increase in awareness of what’s gone wrong with our culture, and what’s needed to mend it, to allow the seeds of a new/old, land-revering, cooperatively managed, regenerative culture to take hold in some areas, and (we can only hope) to spread. Potentially, enough desperation and momentum to drive people to come together and remake politics and economics according to a more equitable model (that’s with a following wind and some luck, and it might involve bloodshed).
- Generally, war, inequality, and environmental issues are all negative but virtual reality is positive & we don’t yet know how it will change our approach to the other 3.
- The typical 20th-century idea of choosing one type of work and making a living from it will change – debt, uncertain politics between nations, and quickly-changing trends mean that training for one career may not guarantee the success it once did.
- I think the world will become a smaller but more complicated and intense place. I think there will be more pressure and more division but for a few, greater opportunities. I feel a bit like I’m writing a dystopian novel!
- I put the issues as neutral as it’s about how we equip young people to be able to take issues and make what they can out of them internally and externally.
- Growing demographic clashes; greatly increased opportunity for some, but less for most
- Technology could open up more jobs but take away manual jobs- increasing use of robots. Climate change could have significant impact on land and food availability. Brexit could limit people’s ability to work in Europe.
- Young people are being educated in taxonomies derived from enlightenment thinking which actively disable their thinking about the present. we need to create context-responsive learning and enable people to learn from what is around them and then… think for themselves collaboratively, not as high-stakes achievers…
But most of you painted a concerned and negative picture:
I fear the future looks devastating for western civilisation, feels like we are on the cusp of significant change with our eyes closed tight shut. I wish the message was not save the planet. I think it needs to be much more personal and urgent. Why have we let the media set such a soporific and shallow tone when we are careering into such uncertainty. The surprising thing is that young people have not already risen up to rebalance the obvious inequity of the consequences of their parents and grandparents selfishness…? Where is the collective outpouring/movement? (of young love in the 60s or the energy of punk in the 70s) I am struggling to work out what we can do to help younger people reclaim their educations, healthcare, culture, social and personal security.
Grotesquely increased inequality, where the majority will struggle to find the resources to feed and house themselves and will be consigned to insecure, degrading work. Insecurity of food and safe water supplies; fewer places where the air is breathable. Horror and grief as the reality of ecological and social collapse hits home.
I’m sorry to be gloomy, but I do see more darkness than light in the future for most young people, at this stage.
And some briefer responses:
- Fewer jobs – as there is population explosion, and technological advancement means fewer people needed to carry out manual work.
- At the moment we are seeing a lot of protracted conflict in parts of the world and I fear this might increase due to resource scarcity.
- Mass displacement, resource wars, drought, famine, ‘natural’ disasters increasing, xenophobic politics
- It’s bleak.
- Ecological disaster, increased media spin of fear, totalitarianism, war on creativity.
- An increase in migration, rising sea levels, food scarcity, war, famine, mental health issues, water pollution, disengaged young people
- Enslaving everyone
- Unstable work, disappearing resources, control of basic needs (water, clean air) in the hands of big business
- Less choice, less culture, less integration, fewer opportunities, …maybe I’m being a pessimist.
- There will be a lack of resources which will lead to a global crisis.
Thank you very much to everyone who responded. Feel free to comment on this post, to add your own views. And you can give views on the second question here.