Teachers have to be future-proof:

Teachers have to be future-proof: 

If something is future-proof, it will continue to be useful or successful in future when the situation changes.

Being an educational futurist is not only about building scenarios for the future, and sharing it with others and exhorting them to follow your suggestions. It is more about developing in all who care about their future or the future of their children, grand-children, nephews and nieces, the attitude. competencies and skills for anticipating their own possible futures and choosing the best one. 

Since most learners and educators today depend on some other person or committee to give them an ‘authorised’ vision of the future, this is a rather challenging task. To make it easier for such persons I have created a set of 4 WhatsApp sessions of about an hour each, which can be pursued on Friday evenings. The set of 4 sessions can be completed over a month. 

1: Developing Foresight:


All of us must learn to anticipate the future. All sportsperson playing cricket, football or tennis for example have to guess ( successfully) where the ball is headed. Foresight is the secret ingredient of all success, because without foresight we cannot prepare for the future.

One characteristic of intelligence is to be able to imagine the future. It may be a short time ahead or even a long term future. In fact the biggest success of AI applications is in making good predictions at low cost, giving rise to the success of companies like Amazon or Netflix. 

All of us can learn to anticipate the future. All sportsperson playing cricket, football or tennis for example have to guess ( successfully) where the ball is headed. Foresight is the secret ingredient of all success, because without foresight we cannot prepare for the future. Effective foresight has always been important in human life, but it is now much harder to come by, because our modern world is changing faster than ever before. Our technologies, jobs, institutions, even some of our treasured values and ways of thinking are all shifting radically, making it very difficult to plan ahead and prepare for future challenges and opportunities. Indeed, in our age of hyper-change, many people have no notion of what sort of world they should prepare for. 

Proposed flow of WhatsApp posts for this session. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • Why anticipating the future is important.
  • Ostrich versus Giraffe : Newton’s quote about standing on the shoulders of giants. 
  • Challenges to predicting the future 
  • The Gartner Hype cycle
  • Technology MegaTrends
  • Developing foresight: 5 ways
  • The world in 2030
  • Social MegaTrends 
  • Resources to be kept informed

2:  Avoiding natural stupidity: 


The literal opposite of Artificial Intelligence is natural stupidity, and you would be surprised by its pervasiveness. Even if we may not have the help of AI technologies to empower ourselves, we could significantly improve our lives, if we could cut down on the natural stupidity prevailing in our lives. 

These are times when Artificial Intelligence is everywhere. Either Godlike who will help in solving the most difficult problems of the day or as the devil incarnate out to harm us in every imaginable way.

The literal opposite of Artificial Intelligence is Natural Stupidity, and more people are regular practitioners of this. There is a famous quote attributed to Einstein “ Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.“ Edward de Bono has also noticed the rampant stupidity all around and has a book with title “ Why so stupid? How the human race has never really learned to think “

There is another interesting book by David Robson. The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things and How to Make Wiser Decisions

There’s even a word for the significant mismatch between intelligence and rationality: dysrationalia.

Earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is limitless :  Gustave Flaubert

If we want to avoid repeating past mistakes, we must acknowledge that even the brightest people can do monumentally daft things.

Gullibility is a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action. It is closely related to credulity, which is the ( stupid) tendency to believe unlikely propositions that are unsupported by evidence. 

The purpose of this session is to help us reflect on our actions, and avoid the elements of stupidity in them. One definition of critical thinking is to “ thinking about your thinking while you are thinking to improve your thinking”. To that extent this may be seen as drawing attention to critical thinking.

Proposed flow of WhatsApp posts for this session. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • What is stupidity? Definitions, Descriptors and its basic laws
  • Why take interest in Stupidity? Reflecting on one’s own stupidity
  • Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance.
  • Common Causes leading to Stupidity ( functional stupidity) 
  • Stupidity in the digital world
  • Stupidity in Everyday life: Laws, Regulations, Conventions
  • The intelligence trap : why smart people do stupid things?
  • Protecting oneself against deception and frauds
  • What next?


3: Ideas: their generation and spread


It is widely believed that we have evolved from hunter-gatherers, agricultural, industrial to a post industrial society driven by creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. And ideas are the currency of such a society. The goal of this session this is to give you pointers and examples of how you could play an important role in both generation of new ideas, as well as being a propagator or evangelist of useful ideas generated by others. 

Proposed flow of WhatsApp posts for this session. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • What is an idea? Philosophical perspectives 
  • Creativity: generation of new ideas
  • Where good ideas come from?
  • The structure of good ideas 
  • Innovation : incremental and disruptive
  • Propagation of ideas: memes, diffusion and viral
  • Brilliant ideas that are not so well known
  • Protection of ideas: Intellectual Property Concepts
  • Begin your own ideation process

4: Questioneering : the skill of asking incisive questions.


We were not only born learners, but naturally curious with a lot of questions. The growing up process required that we stop questioning and accepting the various authorities. This session draws attention to the importance of asking questions and how one becomes wiser for having asked good questions.

Isidor Isaac Rabi, the Physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944 was once asked what made him choose  a career in Science. He said “My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist.”

The essayist Robert Louis Stevenson in his well known but short 2 page essay ‘ El Dorado’ ( http://web.thu.edu.tw/ccj/www/El%20Dorado-Robert%20Louis%20Stevenson.pdf ) says “ Desire and curiosity are the two eyes through which he sees the world in the most enchanted colours…

Please watch this 18 minute video on why you should question everything? https://youtu.be/EmbwS-maS0A

It seems that children aged about 4 years ask the most number of questions. On average, kids under four ask an average of 73 questions per day, some over a grueling 14-hour stretch. But there was an instance of a 3 year old girl who asked her mother about 400 questions in a day. 

Read More: Ever Wonder How Many Questions Your Kids Ask Every Day? | https://wnaw.com/study-shows-kids-ask-parents-an-average-of-73-questions-a-day/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

It may come as a surprise to many that the Indian Constitution is perhaps the only one where the citizens have been cast a duty to ask questions. 


It shall be the duty of every citizen of India-

(h) To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

Developing the spirit of enquiry and a Scientific temper begin with asking questions. That is why I began this piece on Questioneering ( the skill of asking incisive questions) with the story of Rabi’s mother checking whether he had asked a good question at School. 

Here is a link to a very interesting and stimulating article in the New Scientist on the biggest questions ever asked : https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/biggest-questions/

At the end of the session, we share a playlist of videos that help you develop the skill of Questioneering. 

The proposed flow of the sessions is as follows. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • Why Questioneering ? 
  • The story of Rabi
  • El Dorado: Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Thorstein Veblen
  • Why no questions ?
  • A template for questions 
  •  Attributes of a good question 
  • How to ask a better question?
  • A questioning habit

Enrolment and delivery process: 

  • These sessions are being offered for the first time on Friday 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th September. And thereafter on the first to fourth Friday of every month. 
  • A WhatsApp group will be created for each ‘talk’. The group formation is not contingent on a minimum number enrolled. Even if there is only one person enrolled for a particular slot of a course, the course will be delivered to that person. 
  • I will be making my posts during the scheduled time slot of 10pm to 11pm. These posts may be in the form of text, images of PowerPoint slides, my audios, my videos or curated videos of others…
  • About 10 minutes before the scheduled time of my posts I will post a message in the group to the effect that the session is about to begin
  • If any course participant  has a query, question or observation, they may go ahead and make it right there. If this concerns the whole group, please make it in the group. If it is meant as a message to me, then please send me a direct message rather than posting it in the group.
  • If I can make a quick short and effective response, without losing the thread of the conversation, I will respond right then, else I will pool all these and make a special post in response. 
  • Towards the end of the session I will share the PowerPoint slides as a pdf file that can be used in ways that the learners find convenient.
  • You may keep posting your queries and comments even after the scheduled time for my posts is over. All the posts and conversations ( including audio) will remain with you until you consciously and deliberately delete them. This is the greatest advantage of this method 
  • As these ‘talks’ are being delivered through WhatsApp, the enrolment process is simply that of sending a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724
  • There is no FEE for participation in any of these evening events.
  • Those who have already expressed their interest in joining these sessions, and have received a confirmation from me, need not confirm again. They will be included in the WhatsApp group, and receive a message within that group a few days before the start of the session. 
  • To know more, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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