The Long Now Foundation Summer Teacher Institute
Fostering Long-term Responsibility
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
August 8-10, 02016
“Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed—some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries.”
-Stewart Brand, Co-founder and President of the Long Now Foundation
When today’s students become tomorrow’s civic leaders and entrepreneurs, they will confront global environmental and societal challenges that require long-term strategies and solutions. The Long Now Foundation is offering a new program—the Summer Teacher Institute—to engage with educators to develop middle and high school curricula that will better prepare students for these challenges by cultivating their ability to think critically, frame issues, and solve problems using time frames that include centuries and even millennia.
During a three-day engagement including interactive presentations with Long Now thought leaders and hands-on sessions using Long Now’s multi-media and museum resources, participating teachers will design creative and compelling curricula that foster long-term thinking skills within a wide range of subject areas and disciplines. Teachers will leave the Institute with a new approach to framing critical thinking and problem solving in a long-term time horizon; concrete curriculum activities to implement in their classrooms that build long-term thinking skills; and a new network of Long Now educators committed to fostering long-term thinking and responsibility among its students and schools.
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop projects to challenge our short term attention span and time frame and embody the notion of deep time. It hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common through its ambitious projects such as:
- The 10,000 year clock, a mechanical clock that ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.
- The Rosetta Library, a publicly accessible digital library of human languages.
- Revive & Restore, an initiative to selectively bring back extinct species.
The Long Now Summer Teacher Institute is an opportunity for educators to collaborate on creating practical teaching approaches and learning activities that develop long-term thinking among their students with the intention of cultivating graduates with the skills and responsibility to balance the short and long views of civilization.
- 12th grade history of science students discussing the long-term implications of a world without disease;
- 6th grade humanities students prototyping what farming looks like in a century;
- 10th grade science and humanities classes comparing the outcomes of immediate short-term interventions with long-term strategies for living with severe drought;
- 8th graders exploring urban life by examining a specific city’s history, present and future across centuries to determine what has changed and what remains constant.
The Summer Teacher Institute is designed to take educators through a three day schedule of provocative conversations with experts, field trips, and hands-on problem-solving activities that culminate with the development of implementable curriculum activities.