Three Horizons – Inspiring a Future for Educational Change

On Wednesday 4 Sep 2019 at 5:30 pm at the South Adelaide Football Club, I will be delivering the Mary Mackillop Oration for 2019. The oration is titled “Three Horizons, Inspiring a Future for Educational Change”.

When you think of a horizon, you quickly think of what separates the earth from the sky, a theoretical horizontal line which can best be observed over the sea surface. The visible distance can vary depending on your location above sea level and the atmospheric conditions. The horizon can also be considered in terms of the future, the immediate or emerging future. Again what can be perceived can vary due to the conditions and the lens on the future landscape.

We are challenged to look at the educational horizon with hope, passion and purpose, but we need to make it manageable and be driven for the benefit of our students to embrace a future which is filled with impact and influence. At Cardijn we use a model of thinking titled “The Three Horizons”. This thinking is based on looking at the future through three horizons. Horizon 1 (H1) is our immediate horizon and involves all that we do as “routine business as usual”. These activities are what we see as most prevalent in our schools, they could be relevant and highly effective, however whilst they may well address our immediate needs and outcomes, over time these activities would no longer be effective or relevant. One example is the speed at which technology becomes irrelevant, for instance the life cycle of a computer is at best three years. Our 3rd horizon (H3) is the emerging future, these are the activities and practices which will be most prevalent in 5 to 10 years’ time. A great example of this would be the iPhone of 10 years ago compared to the iPhone of today. There is no comparison, but can you imagine what the iPhone would be like in 2029? The emerging future is somewhat unknown but would most certainly have a prevalence of autonomous vehicles, robots, artificial intelligence and learning which involves greater use of technology, virtual reality and access to online tools, apps and personalised learning.

The 2nd horizon is those activities and developments which take us from business as usual H1 to the emerging future H3. These activities are often innovative and disruptive. Sometimes these activities could in fact be deemed as H2 negative, because these activities would just prolong the existence of the H1 horizon. Business as usual, a fear of change and wanting to languish as long as possible with what we do, if it is not broken leave it alone. At Cardijn, we know that this thinking is not in the best interest of our students nor our families and community. This is why our activities are based on a H2 positive (+) approach where these activities, ideas and innovations contribute to Cardijn being best prepared for the emerging future (H3). A great example of our work in this area is our redesign of the Year 7 curriculum. The integrated curriculum with the core disciplines grouped as Global Perspectives, Future Thinking and Healthy Lifestyles.
Our exciting strategic directions document “Towards 2025” is a deliberate strategy to position Cardijn College as community with Local Touch and Global Reach. Our goals to engage with marketplace learning and teachers as enterprise educators driven to provide empowering pathways are crucial in achieving graduates from Cardijn who have impact and influence in their life. Cardijn is investing in the future and meeting the 3rd horizon with passion, energy and commitment is our number one priority. Why not read our strategic directions document and learn more about what we are doing about our future.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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