Writing the Futures Imaginary
This digital arts-based research project takes up futures literacies among teacher candidates in two complementary senses: futures as literacies, and the ways in which future possibility can become a focal point of our literacy practices, and the futures of literacies, and the likely increase of digitally saturated communicative practices and platforms. In this study, I will investigate how a group of teacher candidates express their futures literacies through digital writing in a web-based environment. Through a series of interactive writing prompts, this study will provoke creative engagement with the futures imaginary and inspire teacher candidates to (re)story their futures perspectives while simultaneously engaging in generative digital literacies practices.
Education has always been future-oriented— young people today acquire the skills and knowledge they will put into practice tomorrow. However, students have begun to feel a disconnect between what they are learning in classrooms and the possible futures that fill their news feeds and popular media platforms. Several existential catastrophes darken our futures imaginary: environmental degradation, global warming, the unintended and possibly catastrophic consequences of technological proliferation to name but a few. Educators have the difficult task of ushering young people into an inherited reality that is characterized by these undeniable problems, while simultaneously providing young people with opportunities to cultivate their creative agency to have a positive impact, as well as the 21st century literacies they will need to imagine, enact, and communicate their stories of change. Yet educators themselves are surrounded by an onslaught of troubling future images. Educators’ implicit futures consciousness, comprised of their hopes, fears, concerns, and anxieties about the future, will necessarily infuse their own literacy practices and pedagogies. Futures literacies is a proposed curricular intervention that is aimed at explicitly foregrounding the future imaginary in literacies practices and pedagogy with the intention of increasing both educators’ and students’ agency, resiliency, and creative capacity for meaning making in the face of change and uncertainty.
I take up this work within a posthumanist theoretical perspective that is an invitation to decenter the human from our inquiry practices and instead cultivate interest, curiosity, and relational empathy for the multitude of other-than-human collaborators and inheritors of our mutually entangled future present. A posthuman ontology has infused the design of the digital writing prompts and will guide the arts-based analysis of the data. I hope this research will contribute innovative curricular interventions that may be taken up and expanded upon in both futures and multiliteracies research and discourse. Additionally, I offer the digital writing prompts, website, and a futures literacies curriculum package to teacher candidates for use in their own practices, in gratitude for their future work as agents of positive and proliferating change.
Key Words::futures narrative, creative writing, futures orientation, teacher education
July 22, 2021