Corporate social responsibility has been in the news for at least two or three decades now. The whole rationale behind the idea is that in order to be convincing for customers, an organisation should also be contributing towards creating a better world instead of just focusing on monetary gains. This idea has sprouted many books, interviews and start-ups.
“My dream would be that everyone starts to care and starts living accordingly with that prosocial sensibility,” wrote a young entrepreneur Benjamin Goldhirsh in a book What’s Next: The Experts’ Guide published in 2008. The book set a question about what the next ten years will look like for 50 experts in the United States.
Goldhirsh’s hope is a perfect example of an overly positive outlook of the future; While most of us do live pro-socially among our own close-knit social circle, we certainly haven’t acquired a capacity to be prosocial towards those living far away from us, and most likely we never will.
But we keep dreaming about the better world, and with that dream we actually do take steps towards the goal. Younger generations have very different assumptions of what is a sustainable way forward, be it about the environment, gender issues or worker rights. They are also in a better position to take a global look at things than any generation before them.
But how about education?
Creating a better world is a difficult task in education, because it partly requires that we have to be honest with children about how wrong things in the world are. Being honest is tough, since we want to protect our children from the harsh reality. We must find ways to tell about the problems in an age appropriate way.
We should start emphasizing ideals such as gratefulness and responsibility with children – the idea of always getting more for oneself is getting old as the golden era of individualism is giving space for a more communal way of thinking.
To really create a better world successfully, there are some aspects that should be stressed more in curriculums worldwide: How the current economic system works should be taught for all, so that we could have more bright minds thinking of solutions to fix its shortcomings. Ethics should be as fundamental part of teaching as mathematics. Futures literacy is a whole new capacity that has been promoted even by UNESCO. The logics behind climate change, inequality, poverty, consumer culture, fake news and yes… pandemics should be discussed. We have no answers, but we must teach the children to ask the right questions.
Also, as much as future skills are stressed these days, one cannot really understand the future if one doesn’t understand the past. History is not just history, but it is a story of how we have travelled this far. Instead of highlighting single heroes of the past and their accomplishments, in a better world we will have an understanding of how most great things in this world are obtained by working together towards the same goal and this is what we should strive towards.
Writer: Kati Melto
More information on futures literacy can be found here https://en.unesco.org/futuresliteracy/about