10 Feb 2020 and beyond
Welcome to a new year and the start of the 2020s. As we enter a new decade, it’s an opportunity for pause for thought around what we’ve achieved, and what lies ahead over the next ten years.
Back in 2013, Woodstock formulated its 2020 vision, a blueprint of what we wanted to achieve by this year. Looking into and accurately predicting the future is no easy task – it’s one thing to see what you need to change in isolation, another thing altogether to do so in the context of an ever-changing world.
"There is no crystal ball we can gaze into to know what the world will look like ten years from now."
Kudos to those involved in developing that strategic vision, who had the foresight seven years ago to have devised a plan that remains absolutely relevant today. Credit too is due to all those members of the Woodstock community, past and present, who played their role in making that vision reality. The elements set out in the plan – redeveloping our learning spaces; the Centre for Imagination; Scholarships for Peace and Community Engagement – are now all key components of life and learning at Woodstock.
This year we enter into a new strategic planning process, one which will define the school’s priorities for the years ahead. That means not just predicting where Woodstock needs to be in the coming years, but doing so within a rapidly evolving global context.
It’s impossible to say what the world will look like ten years from now, but you can be sure it there will be significantly different from today. In technology alone, a lot can change over a decade. Ten years ago, iPads, Instagram and Uber didn’t exist. Smartphones were in our lives, but not integral in the way they are now, and Nokia still dominated the world market. Phones only had one camera, looking out at the world, not back at ourselves. If anything, we can guess that technology will be more disruptive to the status quo and the rate of change faster in the 2020s. As educators, we have to ensure our students are not only prepared for life during what’s been described as the fourth industrial revolution – the pace of change means they must be equipped to make a meaningful contribution in whatever follows it.
"What more can we do to equip our students to play a role in making the world a more cohesive, just, and ultimately safer place?"
Climate change is set to be one, if not the, defining theme of the next decade. In December, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said before the opening of its annual climate conference, “Climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent, more deadly, more destructive, with growing human and financial costs”. Dr Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, was equally direct saying, “Things are getting worse… It’s more urgent than ever to proceed with mitigation”. This decade may well be the last opportunity to make changes to prevent our children, and grandchildren, growing up in an environment that is substantively more hostile to the one we’ve enjoyed. Woodstock and its students need to ensure we’re part of the solution, not the problem.
The world is becoming more divided, at a time when we would be better off putting aside our differences to focus on more pressing social and environmental problems. Rising inequality has been cited as a catalyst for civil unrest in societies as disparate as France, Hong Kong, Chile and Lebanon. Reading Maus, this year’s one-book-Woodstock, is a chilling reminder of what can happen when we fail to tackle these issues. The whole Woodstock experience fosters global citizenship, but what more can we do to equip our students to play a role in making the world a more cohesive, just, and ultimately safer place?
There is no crystal ball we can gaze into to know what the world will look like ten years from now. The best we can do is make an educated guess. So, it’s crucial that we listen to and learn from all our stakeholders, including staff, students and parents, as we set devise our next strategic plan for the school’s future. Only by doing so, can we hope to ensure that Woodstock remains a relevant, innovative and inspiring force in education that keeps pace with an evolving world, in whatever form those changes may transpire.