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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


VAN DER WALT, JL (Hannes). Citizenship Education for living successfully in 2050 and beyond. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.4-2, pp.1204-1225. ISSN 2224-7912.

Children attending primary school in 2020, typically between the ages of 6 and 12, will be between 36 and 42 years old in 2050, and those in high schools will be between six and twelve years older. This means that they will be in the prime of their lives, possibly at the apex of their careers, and preparing for the next phases of their lives, namely working towards retirement and old age. Education in general, and school education in particular, now, in the year 2020, has a duty to prepare children (learners, students) for life up to 2050 and beyond, so that they will be able to traverse those life-phases successfully. Citizenship Education (henceforth abbreviated CE), in addition to the foundation provided by all the other school subjects, has the special task of preparing young people to live successfully in society, in their own communities, within their own national borders and also in the wider world. The problem that confronts one in this regard is how to predict the future: What will the world be like in 2050? Future studies are known for their many pitfalls, among others historical determinism and over-simplified predictions. Many methods have in the past been employed to "predict" the future, and none of them has been proved to be infallible. What is the point then of trying to equip young people in 2020 for a successful life and existence in 2050 and beyond? A twofold answer can be given to this question. The first is normative or prescriptive: to outline a desired or preferred future, one that we assume to be the best for our children as the grown-ups and the society leaders of 2050. The second is descriptive: As fallible human beings who are in principle and in practice unable to see three decades and further ahead into the future, we can only surmise what the future will hold for us and our children. A descriptive approach combined with a systems-view about what could potentially be expected to unfold in 2050 and beyond was employed in this study. The approach was not normative and hence did not employ backcasting or "imagineering" techniques. After examining various methods for creating future scenario's such as prediction, scenario sketching and planning, a systems-view in terms of the 15 modal dimensions of reality was adopted. In describing the potential developments in terms of each of these 15 modal dimensions, care was taken not to be too specific because experience indicates that the future tends to take unexpected twists and turns. After having tentatively sketched a possible future in terms of the 15 modalities of reality, the question arises: What should we do now, at this point in time in 2020, to help citizens cope with life three decades into the future? Figuring out what worlds we are building, and our positions in those worlds in relation to others, is the essential task of education. CE as such has a two-fold task, namely to prepare the learners for their civic duties when the time comes for them to leave school, but also for the more distant future, when they are at the top of their performance in their careers as citizens of their countries and of the world, and even for life in the final stages of their existence on earth. CE should, therefore, be future-directed, but this orientation should be realistic. A heavy responsibility rests on the shoulders of CE educators (teachers) and all other school educators to guide learners in order to prepare them sufficiently to cope with the future as it unfolds. They also have to strengthen the learners' innate moral sense of what would count as right and wrong, good and bad behaviour in their particular societal configuration, also in the more distant future. Successful CE will have taken place if and when these two sets ofvalues coincide in the consciousness of the learners. The challenge is to achieve this in the short term, albeit with a view to a more distant future. CE teachers or educators also have to guide their charges to peer ahead into the future, to 2050, and to help them come to terms with what may be expected when they are adults at the peak of their careers and of their lives as parents and members of society. New technologies might pose new challenges to teaching and learning. CE teachers, furthermore, will have to guide their charges so that they are ready and prepared to face the challenges awaiting them in this rather hazy future: the different roles that they might have to play, the pitfalls of an unpredicted and unpredictable future, the challenge to be creative and to be able to think and act on their feet, the challenge to remain true to oneself, to one's own value system (one's moral structure) and one's religion and religious commitment, and many more. CE teachers will have to equip their charges with an understanding ofwhat it would mean and take to live successfully in 2050 and beyond; they have to understand that success needs not necessarily be expressed in terms of wealth or a neoliberal or neo-conservative understanding thereof. The teacher's own integrity, life-view and religious convictions are likely to play a role here as part of the hidden curriculum. Innovation will have to be a key concept in CE; innovation is essential for adjusting to rapid and accelerating change. Students have to be prepared to be comfortable with working and living alongside robots, machines and other technological innovations. Students have to be equipped to cope with constantly changing and fluid conditions. Already in our own time, students have become accustomed to the notion of boundaries weakening or disappearing altogether, especially those between workplaces, homes, entertainment venues and educational establishments. Finally, citizenship educators will in the near, as well in a more distant future, apply renewed concentration on educating the future generations to become and remain individuals able to maintain a healthy balance in life. It is suggested that CE teachers take note of the developments expected to unfold in the next three decades, as described and discussed in this article under the headings of the 15 modalities of reality. By attending to each one of these modalities in educating the youngsters in their care, they will arguably contribute to a healthy balance in the lives of those youngsters entrusted to their care. It is not humanly possible to predict or forecast the future. It is nevertheless incumbent upon the educators of 2020, parents and teachers, to prepare their charges to be ready and prepared for the future as it unfolds. The impact of all future explorations, the respective potentials for the future, can only be meaningfully assessed in our own time. The relevance of any discourse about the future lies in the present. In view of this, the argument proffered in this article comes down to the following: Although we cannot be specific about what exactly life in 2050 and beyond will be like, Citizenship Education as school subject can already now, in 2020, begin to equip, guide and direct children and young people by helping them master a set of skills that will arguably be suitable for all conditions, such as instilling a consciousness and a conscience regarding what would be to the advantage of humankind; what would lead to the well-being of self and of society, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad; that success need not necessarily be measured in materialistic and neoliberal terms but rather in terms of leading a good, fruitful and meaningful life; that one's life-view and concomitant value system will remain the guiding light on the way to an unknown future, to be imaginative, innovative, creative, able to think on one's feet, and be resilient in the face of affliction.

Keywords : citizenship; Citizenship Education; future; Future Studies; preparedness for the future; education; technology.

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