Futureschooling aims to develop children with high and accurate aspirations. This involves developing a sense of self, and maximizing that self against what you decide to value to a satisfying degree. The goal is to become great at whatever you choose to pursue. As I reflect on my experience as an unschooler, I plan to use futureschooling to guide my children’s development.
Peter Thiel outlined a framework for thinking about determinism and optimism. Where one can choose to be either determinate or indeterminate, and optimistic or pessimistic, futureschooling prefers determinate optimism. Which amounts to a belief that the future will be better if we build it.
Modern child development frameworks are failing because they are optimized for the school environment. When people make contact with reality, it turns out not to be like school. People often project the school-like environment on reality, rather than accept and thriving within reality itself. Whatever reality throws at you, it is preferred as a futureschooler to have a high effectiveness and low cost competency for adapting to those changes.
As an unschooler, I come from an educational background where structure was near zero. Modern child development philosophy emphasizes learning process over learning substance. The purpose of learning is to interalize a useful lesson, not to follow a series of checklist steps. Giving children slightly less structure than they are comfortable with is the best way to enable them to be autonomous and find life lessons in non obvious places.
Character Is Built, Not Found
Character is the mental and moral qualities that distinguish you from others. It will not come from ‘looking inward’ in the form of mindfulness, which while a useful tool limits you to the qualities you already possess. And it will not come from ‘looking upward’ in the form of religion, as they are incomptabile with some of the other principles here. Building character requires risk and struggle, which implies a futureschooler ‘looks forward’.
Think In Systems
The most economically important forms of work in the future require systems thinking. Systems thinking is a way of making sense of the complexity of the world by looking at it in terms of wholes and relationships rather than by splitting it down into its parts. In order to realize your potential, it’s important to understand the effects of the complex systems that govern modern life. Navigating these systems and thriving within them is essential.
Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. People often consider an artificially constrained set of alternatives. The best decisions require combining factors from multiple alternatives, as the best path forward is rarely obvious. Being able to generate many possible ways of solving problems, and then rapidly discern the most appropriate alternative is critical.
Partner With Machines
Generative AI is coming for mediocre knowledge work and memorization based learning frameworks. It is better to learn how to leverage AI to further your aims and originate new sources of value than it is to be displaced by it copying what exists. Creativity in the future will look unrecognizable to the analog creativity we have today. Whatever field you choose to pursue, it is certain that you will need to partner with machines to be effective.
Converge on Utility
Impact comes from solving different problems than others and focusing on the utility of the problems being solved rather than the method by which they are solved. Do not toil in obscurity without delivering a value product at the end of it for another human being. Don’t compromise yourself or lose your soul, but be useful. Focus on making whatever creative work you offer the world as useful as it can be as the convergent purpose.
Operating as an agent in our complex future will require specialization. But single domain specialization is fragile. Specializing in multiple fields, and then combining those abilities across domains is more durable. Learning how to pick up new specializations throughout your life is essential to sustained impact. Learning which specializations require which levels of depth and synthesis becomes the core form of learning wisdom.
People often fail due to a lack of focus or a lack of intensity, rather than a lack of resources or opportunity. In a world where social media consumes the excess attention of extroverts and video games of introverts, being able to focus on things for months, years or decades is a crucial skill to cultivate. And then being able to work on those things with uncommon intensity and diligence will make the necessary difference to have effect.