The future that never was

Paleo-FuturePaleo-Future is a very cool website that collects visions of the future as seen by people in the past. The motto is, “A Look into the Future that Never Was.”

Ideas for the classroom might be:

  • Use these as examples to create your own videos, pictures or articles about the future
  • Discuss what people thought would happen, but didn’t
  • Find examples of predictions that really did happen
  • Find out why these videos were made (eg was it a commercial, a contest, a prediction intended to warn people, etc.)
  • Find out more about who made these videos
  • Discuss the difference between technology change and social change, and why one might be more or less hard to predict
  • Look for examples of current commercials, books, or websites that predict the future. How far in the future are these predictions? What else might happen if they come true?

The Homework MachineHere are some fun places to start –

  • The Homework Machine is a good one. Chemistry done without actual messy chemicals and math drills – bad ideas never go out of style. Searching for things like “homework”, “classroom” and “textbook” provides hours of good finds.
  • 1999 AD and Online Shopping both have pretty good predictions about the use of technology in kitchens and for shopping, but the happy homemaker who controls all this and is a slave to her husband and children is pretty funny. She selects things and he pays for it, while grimacing at the picture of the handwritten bill on his screen. Why did they get some of the technology right (the appliances), some miss the mark (the handwritten bill), and the social stuff just completely wrong?
  • The Road Ahead: Future Classroom is from 1997– not that long ago. Cool technology, but does the student really say anything in his report?

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