Reading for a Future

For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual but it is true.

Ursula K. Le Guin

I went to a talk a few years ago about binning off borders and immigration and one of the speakers, Ben Smoke, talked about the importance of imagining the future. This really stuck with me. I often get bogged down in worrying about what’s going on now, or get stuck chatting about how shit things are the moment that I forget to be hopeful, to remember that none of the critique, the discourse or conversations matter if they’re not in the service of a hopeful future. What’s the point of fighting for a better future, if you can’t imagine it?

I think this can often be a trap we fall into. To truly change our education system we need to change the actual structures already in place. Far too often we talk about what is wrong without thinking about how to put these things right. Yes, Ofsted is bad, but what form of accountability comes after that? Yes, exclusions are bad, but how do we
accommodate restorative or transformative processes into our school days? Yes, we’re short staffed, but what should staffing actually look like in the future. These things can be long and sometimes difficult to think about, but they can also give us hope.

For me, the one thing that really challenged me to rethink how I saw education was Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. Connie explores education and schooling in a post-revolutionary future, sees how the village raises the child, how education is a blend of schooling and self-directed work and how young people are given the freedom and
space to grow and explore based on their needs. It was truly inspiring.

I think sci-fi, especially forward looking, utopian sci-fi can give us the hope, ideas and imagination necessary to build a better world. So, here’s a very short, non-exhaustive, crowd sourced*  list of sci-fi books which might inspire us to think more hopefully about education.

Maybe one day we can turn it into a book club!

Isaac Azimov – The Fun They Had (short story featured in The Best of Isaac Asimov)

Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward 2000-1887

Octavia E. Butler – Kindred

Octavia E. Butler – Parable of the Sower

Octavia E. Butler – Parable of the Talents

Arthur C. Clarke – 3001: The Final Odyssey

Becky Chambers – Wayfarer series

Hugo Gernsback –  Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660

Ursula K Le Guin – The Dispossessed

Peter F Hamilton – The Reality Dysfunction

Peter F Hamilton – Pandora’s Star

Herman Hesse – Glass Bead Game

NK Jemisin – Broken Earth Trilogy

Nnedi Okorafor – Binti

Marge Piercy – Woman on the Edge of Time

Rivers Solomon – An Unkindness of Ghosts

*so plz don’t shout at me if you disagree

words by tom