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Possibility, not prediction

In the vast complexity of life, historical experience—what takes place—emerges from the innumerable interactions among living beings that all strive to maintain themselves through their relentless reciprocal interaction. Each lives in a world facing indeterminacies, experiencing their determination with inexorable unpredictability in the unfolding present. Each day's news is new, however hackneyed it might seem, another increment of actuality, precipitated out from the indefinite potentialities the future bears within it.

Whether at the personal or the public level, in the historic world actualities take place, emerging from the flux of complexity. People arrogantly structure education instrumentally through a set of predictions about probable situations. But education does not causally produce effects, either in the lives of students or in the sociopolitical landscape they inhabit. We try to do so imprudently. No sagacious body can predict what children in the millions will each want to know forty years hence. In late modern pedagogy, prediction has a dangerous, inflated role in educational effort. It nurtures a monoculture, rigid within normality, brittle when hit by the sudden onset of unexpected conditions.

Historical possibility involves the unpredictable. It begins with the capacity of each person to shape in some degree the substantial particulars of her own life. The possible and the predictable differ and stand in significant tension with one another, especially in the dynamics of living. Would-be educators — parents, teachers, adults, public leaders — far too often exaggerate the educative value of predictions and overlooked the pedagogic power of possibility. Indeed, far too often they discount possibility, understanding it merely as a highly uncertain prediction.

Prediction kills self-formation and liberal learning  . . . . .