Learning for uncertain futures: the role of textbooks, curriculum, and pedagogy

Autor(es): Smart, Andy; Sinclair, Margaret; Benavot, Aaron; Bernard, Jean; Chabbott, Colette; Russell, S. Garnett; Williams, James

Publisher(s): UNESCO

Date: 2020

Pages: 18 p.

Series Volume: Background paper for the Futures of Education initiative


Sustained globalization, together with threats posed by climate change, armed conflict and pandemics, are exacerbating a sense of uncertainty in how children and young people live their lives and prepare for the future. This paper argues that textbooks and pedagogy represent potentially transformative strategies to restructure young people’s learning and expand their social and emotional capacities as they make the journey to adulthood. The pedagogical strategies and instructional materials prevalent in many schools today rely too heavily on a kind of teaching and learning that implies and conveys a sense of certainty. As a result, the strategies and materials fail to help teachers integrate dispositions such as flexibility, resilience and self-direction alongside academic learning into their daily practice. This serves to undermine deeper student learning. Drawing on universal principles while focusing mainly on low-and middle-income countries, the paper proposes embedding social and emotional learning as well as community and societal values into curriculum and learning materials. It also explores the essential role of teachers’ pedagogy in incorporating these dispositions and values.

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