top of page
  • Writer's picturePhil Jarvis


Updated: Oct 26, 2023

In a post-humous blog post entitled Rehearsing the Future, H B Gelatt says, "The future hasn’t happened and it never will. Once it arrives it becomes the present and then the past. However, I believe it is possible to say that your image of your future, before it happens, is a very important factor in determining what it will be when it happens. What you do now makes a difference in your future. Doing nothing also makes a difference. What you do and don’t do counts; and it depends on what you believe.

Collaborative, project-based learning focused on real-world issues that need solving is doing something meaningful now. It builds students' awareness of global issues and sense of personal agency, while helping them develop increasing social-emotional competency. It teaches them how to reach consensus collaboratively and respectfully with those with different strengths and perspectives. It allows them to discover issues about which they are passionate and with which they want to make a difference, now and in the future. It helps students bring into focus their image of their future, which further influences their actions in the present.

The heliotropic effect is the tendency for all living systems to move towards that which is life-giving and away from that which endangers life. It's why a plant placed on a windowsill tilts toward the sun and sunflowers follow the sun from east to west every day. People who imagine a bright future tend to do things to move closer to that future and avoid doing what impedes their vision.

World-class skiers visualize every turn and jump ahead while at the start line, even leaning into imagined turns. Organizations, large and small, do scenario and contingency planning and rehearsing before critical events, and sports teams prepare and rehearse game plans. Young lovers, with beating hearts, imagine a first kiss. They are all rehearsing the future.

Public education should be rehearsing for real life. Collaborative, project-based, multi-disciplinary, experiential learning focused on pressing, real-world issues affecting individuals, families, communities, countries, indeed the entire world, should be the medium. The only comprehensive framework of such issues, developed by 193 countries in collaboration, is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This framework can spawn an almost infinite number of project possibilities for students of any age that align with the way they imagine themselves contributing to a better world. It can also illuminate millions of stories about the present or future to be told as students Write a Book to Change the World.

117 views0 comments


bottom of page