The History of the Future . . .


Antarctic ice massJust last week two independent research groups on climate change both came to the exact same conclusion. The Antarctic Ice shield is melting and the rate of melt has accelerated to a point of no return.  We have definitely reached a tipping point concerning the impact of global warming on Antarctica.  One of the studies basically forecast “the inevitable collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.”

For Antarctica as a whole, the study found the current rate of ice sheet mass loss to be about 160 billion metric tons of ice per year. The extra water pouring into the sea is raising sea levels by about 0.1 inches per year.  

And the Greenland ice mass is also shrinking at an alarming rate.

It’s definitely time to start thinking about a different global future concerning sea levels, ocean current patterns and weather disruptions. I suggest it’s also time to start thinking about the future in other ways as well.  And one of them is the  education process.

Teaching History

Every school in every country teaches History.  The story of the past.  Although they may rearrange the facts a bit to suit whatever political or religious group is in power at the time, the fact is, children from entry-level to high school study some form of history. I understand the rationale.  History is important to give people a sense of continuity, history, perspective, understanding of why things are a certain way, and of course the hope that the current generation will learn about past mistakes and not repeat them.

Well, that reasoning is definitely false.  In general mankind has not learned much from studying the past. The fact is we keep repeating the same behaviours and mistakes over and over.  Consider the British, Russian and American invasions of Afghanistan. Each one making the same mistakes, only with a greater loss of life on both sides each time. Repeated experiments with socialism shows the same patterns of ultimate collapse each time.

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience. ~George Bernard Shaw

A new curriculum: The History of the Future.

Instead of teaching history, the way it was, why don’t we teach “the Future”, the way it can be?  Unless we create the future, we will end up recreating the past.

We should be teaching children about how to make decisions for the long-term, about envisioning a future that works for everyone.  Businesses need to create a future of sustainability. Communities need to think about the future of water, sanitation, infrastructure, new forms of energy, immigration, employment, retraining.

The fact is, today, and even more so as every day passes, the world is interconnected and what happens in one country or region impacts everyone, everywhere.  Dry weather in Kenya or Costa Rica and the price of coffee goes up around the world.  Crime in South Africa impacts the global economy by stalling investment in a country rich in resources and labour. Deforestation in Brazil impacts weather and ocean current patterns, as well as air quality and biodiversity.

Instead of teaching about the past, why not start a curriculum and dialogue about how the future should be?  One planet, one people, one goal = sustainability and development for the common good. Let’s help the next generation take mankind forward, instead of being stalled in the past!

You can’t drive a speeding car using the rear view mirror! Or a speeding planet for that matter.

John R. Childress

Author of LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture, and FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution, available from Amazon in paperback and eBook formats.

See the review of LEVERAGE in The Economist (January 9, 2014.

John also writes thriller novels:


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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2 Responses to The History of the Future . . .

  1. Ted Browne says:

    …but who decides which vision of our future and worldview to teach? And what if *they’re* wrong?


    • Seems to me that right now is the time to start a dialogue about a sustainable future rather than just reviewing the past. I would say that “sustainability” is fundamental principle and we dialogue about how. Right now there is no real dialogue about the future so it’s worth giving it a try.


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