SYSTEMIC PLANNING FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE: Planning for Educational Futures

The study of “educational futures” has prompted an upsurge of interest in planning. Planning is necessary since administrators have no choice but to anticipate the future, to attempt to both create and adjust to it, and to balance present operating goals with longer-range goals. Peter Drucker states:
Unless the long range is built into, and based on, short-range plans and deci¬sions, the most elaborate long-range plan will be an exercise in futility, and conversely, unless the short-range plans, that is, the decisions on the here and now, are integrated into one unified plan of action, they will be expedient, guesses, and misdirection. (Drucker, 1974, p. 122)
The essence of planning is to make present decisions based on knowledge of their future impact. Thus the old adage “Forewarned is forearmed” is especially true in planning.
Educational administrators must be able to anticipate the future; that is, be able to visualize how choices made today will influence tomorrow’s educational practice. This requires that administrators be prepared to look beyond the traditional firing line to the future alternatives that will be available to their educational systems. The dizzying work pace and concern with economic survival does not encourage such a future focus. However, its absence in educational systems will betray our youth and put our schools at the mercy c future. Those who cannot project themselves into the future can only res to the immediacy of the present, unable to envision and assess possible fur Those who cannot visualize the future are destined to regret the past ant the future.
Educators are very conscious of the increasing rate at which social char occurring. This increased pace of change has caused their plans to ha shorter and shorter operational life. Writers such as Herman Kahn Alvin Toffler have addressed the causes of the increasing rate of change in society. Gradually, people are coming to see that they cannot expect the future t the same as the past.
The United States came out of a deep depression to some dazzling Neigh population and riches. We walked on the moon, industry became computerized, superhighways Criss-crossed the nation, education was expanded to a a broader set of human needs, and our standard of living improved. Industry grew at a rate unparalleled in human history, and then leveled off as other .lions began to out produce us. As cheap petroleum products became more pensive, we teamed about our global dependence on others.
We have seen difficulties unfold at a rate many have been unable to absorb—Vietnam, youth and racial uprisings, the drug cult, the Arab oil embargo, detente, the renewal of the cold war, the Watergate scandal, hosts Iran. soaring joblessness and inflation, loss of pride in workmanship, loss of productivity, changes in the roles of women, government control and sidles, increase in the average age of Americans (from 24 to 37), increases in urban decay, pollution, suicide, divorce, and so on. The changes we have seen are dizzying but, as Barnum and Bailey might say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The experience of race car drivers can be used to illustrate the important the future during increasing rates of change. The faster a racing car travels c a cross-country course to its destination, the farther ahead the driver must I if he or she is to avoid collision and manage the obstacles in front. This image should appear very accurately to the educational administrator who is faced with .the fast pace of our present times. Educational administrators must ha view of the future even if a blurred view—if they wish to stay in the race.
The fast pace of present society can be represented more specifically broadening our race-car example to the transportation industry in general. carriage used in the late 1800s was the same kind of vehicle as a pharaoh chariot, and it traveled at about the same rate of speed. But in the last seventy five years, rapid strides in transportation have occurred with the refinement the piston engine, the jet, and the rocket engine. In little more than a half, century, technology has enabled us to advance from speeds of a few miles per hour to seven times the speed of sound; and nothing indicates that there is an end in sight. Although the examples in education are not as dramatic, there have been significant changes from America’s one-room school houses at the end of the 17th century to the large complicated school system that exists at the end of the 20th century. It is already clear that the list century will be quite different from any our history has recorded.
The administrator cannot just decide whether or not to make decisions with futurity in mind; he or she must make them by the definition of the role. All that is within an administrator’s power is to decide whether to make decisions responsibly or irresponsibly, with an improved chance of effectiveness and success, or as a blind gamble against unforeseen odds. Lacking divine guidance, administrators must face the difficult responsibility of forecasting and planning for the future.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
What will happen in the next twenty years and beyond? Few dare make public pronouncements of prophesy because of the role of the prophet down through the ages. In mythology there was Cassandra, the Trojan princess who was endowed with a gift of prophesy but fated by Apollo never to be believed. Then, of course, there were the Old Testament prophets whose very lives depended on the accuracy of their predictions. If they were wrong, their fate was death by stoning. Today when we need some image of the future we turn to a whole new species of intellectual- the professional futurist or futurologist. Unlike the old-fashioned prophet or seer, this new breed of thinker considers himself or herself to be a rigorous analyst, studying the laws that govern social, political, economic, technological, and educational trends and their effects on one another (Hoyle, 1980a).
The educational division of the Work Future Society (WFS) has made a definite impact on the educational leadership in the American school system. The WFS defines modem futuristic as primarily an attempt to examine systematically the factors that can influence the future, and then project possible futures based on the interaction of these factors. But futuristic also involves imagining and exploring desirable futures in hopes of discovering new ides, new alternatives, and new goals to aim for.
Futurists explicitly point out that we face a variety of futures, not one single future. These alternative futures are dependent on several factors: history, that is, past events and trends that have, an influence on the future; chance, the oc-currences we are unable to plan for; and human choice, the decisions we make that affect the future. It is important to understand that futurists do not claim to predict the future; rather they attempt to heighten our awareness of the range of alternatives rather than what is certain or inevitable These perspectives can be best illustrated by two metaphors. One can view life as a long roller-coaster ride and the future as the track upon which we ride. We are unable to see all the twists and turns of the track in advance and can only see each part as we come to it. We cannot change the course of the ride or even get off when we want. We are a captive to this experience and can do little about a future that is fixed. Another view characterizes the future as a great ocean on which we are navigating a ship. There are many destinations that we may sail toward While navigating. we take into consideration such factors as the currents, weather conditions, and unfamiliar waters in order to reach our destination safety. The first metaphor views the future as determined by our circumstances; there is not much we can do to change or alter it. Motorists reject this notion and instead choose the second metaphor, which claims that by using foresight, one is able to determine, to some extent, one’s future (Main, 1979). This is the same no¬tion upon which planning must be based.
The alternative-futures approach requires the use of skills that can be developed through “futuristic” techniques. First, we must learn to think more imaginatively about the future in order to avoid the single-future trap. This often necessitates scrutinizing previous notions of likelihood and the impact of the future and reconstructing them to fit more flexible perspectives of the future as something to be created or invented. Second, one must evaluate the impact of possible futures. Reflecting upon the effects of certain actions is essential when considering future possibilities. We must not only be aware of alternative courses of action that are open to us, but we must also choose wisely among them. This process raises basic questions of what is possible, what is probable, and, above all, what is preferable. Alvin Toffler (1970, P. 475) notes:
Every society faces not merely a succession of probable futures, but an array of possible futures, and a conflict over preferable futures. The management of change is the effort to convert certain possible into probable, in pursuit of agreed-on preferable.
So we can look ahead to an array of possible futures, of which some are more likely to occur than, others. With this in mind, we can choose the most desirable future and then take steps to reach Ii. It is from this perspective that we disclaim the inevitability of a single future.
Futurists see the challenge now confronting educational planners as a shift in the mode of thinking from conscious adaptation to conscious anticipation. They see this as a conversion from maintenance and shock learning to innovative learning. “Maintenance’ is defined here as the tendency to fall back on, to rely on, old formulas to meet new problems. Innovative learning occurs when new forms of actions are considered on the basis of the understanding that occurs when one learns that a rather large set of conditions has changed.
Anticipation is the ability to deal with the future, to foresee coming events a:; well as to evaluate the medium-term and long-range consequences of current decisions and actions. It requires not only teaming from experience but also en¬visioning future situations. Conscious anticipation is not limited to encouraging desirable trends and averting potentially catastrophic ones, but must include “inventing’ or creating new alternatives where none existed, and “preferred” alternatives where the possibilities were undesirable. It is directed at warding off the increasingly more traumatic and costly lessons of shock during the reac¬tive or crisis-planning process. We have learned that shock can be fatal or very costly to the human species. Botkin, Elmandjra, and Malitya (1979, p-.26) state:
In non-anticipatory, adaptive learning all we do is “react” and search for answers when it might be too late to implement solutions. We exhibit great in¬sensitivity to small but critical signals. Under the influence of maintenance learning, those who should be alarmed are often not moved by gradual deterioration. Then when shock occurs and events roll like thunder, people finally stand up only to look for the lightning that has already struck.
Since innovation emphasizes preparedness to ad in new situations, the exploration of what may happen or is likely to occur necessarily becomes one of the main pillars of the learning enterprise. At the present time, however, anticipation does not play a sufficiently important role. As individuals, we do not speak enough in the future tense; and as societies, we tend to speak only in the past tense.

“Societal anticipation” will be one of the most important characteristics that a society of the 21st century can display. Botkin, Elmandjra, and Malitya (1979) end their comments in this section by stating, ‘Thus a key aim of innovative learning is to enlarge the range of options within sufficient time for sound decision-making processes. Without such innovative learning, humanity is likely to rely solely on reactive !earning, making new shocks inevitable” (p. 44).
SCENARIOS
One of the better methods to plan probable, possible, or preferable futures is by de-Moping scenarios of the future. A scenario is a “future history,” a narrative that describes a possible series of events that might lead to some future state of affairs. This fictionalized forecast is written from the point of view of a specific future date, such as five to ten years hence. It-describes the events that will occur from the present up to that date. In writing a scenario one attempts to construct a logical sequence of events leading from the present, or any other given time, to a Future condition (Hoyle, 1980a).
A scenario is nothing more than a narrative in which the author strings together a series of probable events (planned and unplanned) that might occur over some given period of time. By weaving realistic data into a narrative, the planner can often build a powerful and convincing case for the probability of occurrence. The planner can also use the scenario as a strong argument for the desirability for strategic and/or operational plans needed to support, in Toffler’s terms. a s,-t of “agreed-on preferable.” In this and other ways scenarios can be dramatic calls to action providing motivation and purposefulness to present actions. Tae works of Herman Kahn, Anthony Weiner, and Paul Ehrlich have been especially adept at motivating action through rather dramatic scenarios. Ehrlich’s 1969 essay -Eco,-Catastrophe”‘—in which he states that “the end of the ocean carne late in the summer of 1979, and it came even more rapidly than the biologists had expected”—was given considerable credit for motivating bans on DDT and for leading to significant reductions in the ways in which DDT can get into the oceans. In this essay Ehrlich did not really forecast what would happen, but what could happen if nothing were done. Ehrlich’s scenario was also projectable on the basis of scientific discovery that DDT slows down photosynthesis in marine plant life, which all life in the sea depends upon.
There are some basic rules, in developing scenarios. For example, scenarios should be based on projectable events that are forecasted from data at hand. Certainly projection involves imagination, but it is not to be confused with it. Prediction has a taste of foretelling or prophecy that futurists find unpalatable. They deplore statements made without all available data in hand to support the probable developments. One must also guard against myopia caused by a tendency to assume that the future will be merely an analogical extension of past or present. One must he able to creatively put together known and unknown to visualize a new future.
This requires one to keep an “open and unprejudiced mind” and be able to see interrelationships among presently occurring technological, biological, social, and human events. Paradoxically, those who are not limited by the bounds of some specialized expertise are free to discover more probabilities than those who are committed to verifying estimates permitted by whichever closed system of knowledge they are expert in.
Scenarios are not intended to be the future; they are future possibilities or desirabilities. They may or may not occur, depending in part on what people choose to do or not do. However, the future will be guided by people’s actions or lack of actions and their effects on what happens in the future. For example, Seif (1979) suggests that a devastating nuclear war or a major energy crisis is not inevitable, but is in tact dependent on the actions of individuals and nations:
If. for example, the Soviet Union and United States agree on a nuclear arms treaty that greatly reduces arms spending and the arms race, then this would have a profound effect on the potential for war and on the economy of the world. If during the next ten years there are serious efforts in the United States to reduce oil and other energy consumption acid begin instituting sun power or other simpler forms of energy, then our energy problems could be very different in the future. Individual and collective decisions will influence and help determine. how we will live in the future.” (Self, 1979, p. 84)

This suggests that planners have a responsibility to use time, energy, and money to seek to create and shape an improved tomorrow. Planners must answer the question, “What can we do now to hake tomorrow better.
POSSIBLE ISSUES FOR AN EDUCATIONAL SCENARIO
Planners interested in developing anticipated (and/or preferable) scenarios con¬front a taxonomical problem. What systematic classification should be used to describe the future? We must be able to look to the future of schooling in some systematic fashion if our efforts are to be helpful in the planning process. Developing a classification system begins with a checklist of aspects of education that require delineation. The education section of the World Future Society and the Old Dominion University were involved in 1979 in a major research project using scenarios for strategic planning in education. Part of the project was to develop a classification system of issues that were believed to be central to education’s future. Ea&. of the issues identified needs to be an¬ticipated and addressed in present planning efforts.
The issues are grouped under six headings: responsibilities of different agents, content, process, improvement of the profession, interaction with the individual, and interface with society. Planners in each school district can pro¬ject future developments in each issue area, based on present initiatives, and these predictions can then be synthesized into an overall picture of how educa¬tion within the district is evolving and improving. The following section outlines the twenty-three issue areas that can be used to classify the future (Aller, and Dede. 1979, pp. 37-56).
I. Responsibilities of Different Agents
A. Schooling. In the next thirty years, rapid technological innovations and unstable financial and social conditions will require great sophistication and flexibility in the education of children . . . and the continuing education of adults. Do schools, as now defined and operated, provide the best delivery system for educating children and adults?
B. Families. In recent history, both the exended and the nuclear family structure have come under considerable strain because of changes in social values, and many educational tasks once the responsibility of the family are now seen as the function of the schooling system. How can alternatives and changing family struc¬tures be accommodated within the educational framework? Regardless of the allocation of responsibility, how can the schooling system work toward a position of educational partnership with the family?
C. Communities. Should communities, with their broad but localized range of skills and knot% ledge. assume major educational responsibilities? If so, which? What mix of local/national/global tradition and culture should communities convey?
D. Media. In the next thirty years, drastic alterations in existing media delivery systems went probable, including increased popular access to prerecorded materials, computerized libraries, and interactive systems. To what extent will schools increase their reliance on media and shape its concepts, programming, and delivery?
E. Industries/Professions. How can training best be structured to foresee and address short- and long-term variations in career goals? How should counseling be done to maximize the fit between individual abilities and interests and the types of work society needs? How should society coordinate training agents so as to minimize total cost?
2. Content
A. Social Responsibility. What are the values and attitudes vital for successful cultural evolution into the twenty-first century, and by which educational agent is each best conveyed? How can and should instruction be individualized to respond to the diverse array of attitudes and values held by learners?
B. Best Cognitive Skills, What cognitive skills are needed by all citizens, and by which educational agent is each best conveyed? How can the expression of creativity be encouraged?
C. Best Affective Skills. Recent rapid and unexpected changes in cultural values have caused many people to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and unable to control their future. How can affective skills be coordinated and integrated to build higher-order constructs such as self-awareness, personal esteem, and ability to resist adversity? How should the affective domain be interfaced with social responsibility
D. Values. Should the educational system deliberately communicate values and attitudes beyond those necessary for socialization? By what meant, can the values of individuals best be changed, and to what extent is this desirable if at all possible? How should values education (if any) be integrated with instruction for social responsibility
E. Future Thinking. Forecasting is difficult because events, trends, and values of society are interdependent; the next thirty years are perilous because world sup¬port systems have become interdependent before world cultural systems have recognized this shift. This means that people of the world who now depend upon each other for their survival have not learned to get along with one another–nor to understand their cultural differences. How can education best convey an understanding of ecological, cultural, and social interdependence? In what ways should education build toward a “global consciousness”? To what extent can education prepare citizens for issues that may first become important in five years? a decade? a generation?
3. Process
A. Diversity of Learning. Each learner has different needs, expectation-, capacities. life experiences, and readiness—and all these attributes vary with time. To what extent and in which areas of instruction should individualized learning packages be developed? What needs to be done toward further understanding of the development and cultural basis of learning styles?
B. Educational Technology. How major a role can technology legitimately play in the educative process? What effect will large-scale uniform instructional programming have on diversity of human resources, end to what extent is the specialization and individualization of technological instruction possible, given high software produc¬tion costs? What new types of training for educators will be required to utilize these developing tools for instruction?
C. Evaluation. Evaluation in education, as distinct from credentialing, is concerned with providing feedback on performance. to learners on their mastery of instruc¬tion, to educators on their achievement of Seals, and to organizations on their ac¬complishment of purposes. For each type of educational agent, which evaluation techniques are moss accurate and in what manner should these be incorporated. How can evaluation validity be maximized? What are the best -strategies for com¬municating evaluation results in a constructive manner? By what methods can evaluation results of “work in progress” be incorporated into decision structures?
4. Improvement of the Profession
A. Professionalism. How can the scope of education be more clearly- delineated so that a more detailed analysis of the nature of the profession can be made? By what means can ‘he most effective practitioner techniques be identified? What role differentiations are appropriate within the field, and what standards of technical and ethical training should each role meet? How can the degree of ex¬pertise required to be a competent educator be made apparent to the society, so that recognition of the importance and difficulty of education can be increased?
B. Staff Development. Regardless of the educational agent-schooling system, family. community; media, industry-our cultural roles are presently structured such that the educational function is relatively nonrewarding. How can the image of the profession be improved so that educating is seen to be as challenging and difficult as being a surgeon, a basketball player, or an executive? Given unionization, how can procedures be developed for removal of practitioners who have ceased to be effective? How can the “burnout” of educators be prevented? Far each educational agent, how might professional development take place?
C. Professional Governance. In the next thirty years, a lack of professional cohesion may sorely damage education. Leadership and cooperation are needed to meet the tremendous responsibilities and financial challenges society will place on education. How can the different educational agents (schooling system, family, com¬munity, media, industry) develop a framework for collaboration on common issues? What types of authority and power distribution will function most effectively in education?
5. Interaction With the Individual
A. Life long Learning. What types of educational experiences are important during in¬fancy and early childhood, and by which educational agents would these best be delivered? What instructional systems can most effectively serve the needs of peo¬ple and society for retraining, more sophisticated citizenship, and social interac¬tion? How can instruction facilitate the fusion of work and leisure styles? By what means can this expansion in traditional instructional services best be staffed and financed?
B. Credentialing., Credentialing of learners, instructors, and educational institutions is a means of certifying future performance. How can educational creden¬tialing systems be made a more effective means of determining quality, without eliminating the diversity and individual uniqueness valued in a free society?
C. Special Needs. Education is primarily provided for the middle-range-of-talent, physically and emotionally healthy individual in the majority culture. li, as diverse a society as ours, this assumption means that many people are ill-served by educational institutions. How can instructional settings be structured to incor¬porate the maximum range of learner needs, so that through direct experience our culture will lose its fear of physical, sexual, intellectual, behavioral, emotional, linguistic, racial, cultural, and chronologic differences? How can learners with special needs best be given a sense of personal worth and a positive self-image? At what point doe3 the responsibility of educational systems cease for learners for whom no instructional strategy seems to function?
D. Equity. No highly technological, complex society can survive either the loss of talent resultant from discrimination or the dissatisfaction and defiance that bias generates. What biases in each type of educational agent need to be removed, and how can these agents to promote equity of access, outcome, and staffing? What are the limits (if any) to the pluralism for which education is responsible? How can equality of outcome be best interpreted so as to still allow for maxi-mization of individual potential?
6. Interface with Society
A. Motion to Other Human Services. The field of human services is split into numer¬ous specialties, each having its own delivery system (e.g., education, health, wel¬fare, etc.). Such specialization encourages a kind of parochialism in which a person is viewed only from certain perspectives (e.g., health) rather than as a total human being How can educational and soda] services best be coordinated and under what overall authority, How can administrative governance systems be evolved that will transcend the problems of hierarchical authority and allow human ser¬vices to view the individual holistically.
B. Funding. Without both a strong campaign to inform the public or. the costs of not educating in a complex society and an equally strong drive to improve the efficiency of educational expenditure, schooling systems as currently constituted ray well collapse. What is the best mixture of educational funding sources: individual, local, state, national, international? Can new sources of funding be generated (e.g., international taxes on deep sea mining)? How should resources be allocated among the various educational agents? What should be the relationship between funding and policy control? How can the costs/benefits of education be delineated to society so that informed expenditure decisions can be made? What economies of scale in education are significant? What is the most likely means for improving educational productivity?
C. External Controls. A fundamental task for educators is to apprise diverse external groups of what an instructional system can and cannot do within given funding limits, then ask for collective and coordinated goals and support. How can a coherent picture of the accomplishments and limits of the educational system, and the tradeoffs between its duties and costs, be communicated to the public? What mix of governmental, community, family, and individual input should shape educational policy? Can these different groups be organized to coordinate demands and evaluation procedures, and what types of assessment can best be made from outside the profession?
Each school district must develop scenarios to aid their individual planning regarding issues that are relevant to them. Dwight Allen and Christopher Dede are editing a volume entitled Creating Better Futures for Education, which will address each of these twenty-three issues with solutions from access the nation.
CONCLUSION
Educational futurists suggest that to develop the needed planning perspective, school systems must emphasize problem detecting, problem perceiving, problem formulating, and common understanding. This perceptual base, along with the solid planning process outlined in this book, plus vision and wisdom, will go a long way toward creating a bright future for educational systems.
Planning involves making some futuristic projections about a desired state of affairs given expected conditions. These are followed up by some strategic plans on how this desired state can best be achieved and how it will be funded. Next the projections are refined, which provides greater detail and fits all of the pieces together into an operational plan. In this way, planning provides a commonly understood, structured process by which all interested parties can communicate; ultimately, this will facilitate reasonable agreement and commitment. h is a collaborative process in which interested parties come to a mutual agreement as to future expectations and commit themselves to specific levels of accomplishment. Planning is a way of managing that must go’ on continually – a way of managing that guides present actions through anticipatory learning regarding probable future consequences. Planning seeks consistency of purpose and flexibility of action.
A certain mystique has grown up around planning because it is so often viewed –is some kind of arcane futuristic wisdom and exotic technique to which one cannot hope to aspire. This book encourages educational administrators to incorporate the full potential of planning into their repertoire of management techniques. Me key demand for the twenty-first century is planned action:
This is perhaps the most important knowledge that futuristic brings–that the future is not some predetermined drama in which human beings can only act out their assigned parts, but rather the sum total of all the individual choices, actions, and aspirations of people everywhere. (Richardson, 1980)

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