Our new mission statement brings in two of the most important pillars of the MVAD: student development of possible futures and, my favorite pillar, Impossibleness. Yes, I assure you, "impossibleness" is a word. I have a feeling it will be a buzz words soon.
I really love the philosophy behind multiple possible futures. I think most people see the future unfolding in a linear way. That what we get or what we become is just a natural progression of what we've had or what we've been. I whole heartedly disagree. The future or possible futures must be forged intentionally. Happy accidents will happen. Terribly unsettling accidents will also happen. But, it's people, not some unseen force, that brings the future(s) to us – or in the eyes of the futures makers, create the futures with us.
What is the difference between "the future" and "futures"? For many, if you can't see it, it just doesn't exist and is, therefore, not a possibility. For the student designers of the MVAD, that which does not exist is the most interesting thing to explore. Since there are so many things that do not exist and we do not know when they might exist, we need to lay out multiple futures in which those things are possibilities. "The future" is something that will exist in time. It only offers what others make for it. It's linear. "Futures" are several possibilities which force us to consider our tools, materials, behaviors, actions, wants, and needs. We lean forward and investigate consequences of development, dig into problems to learn what others want and need, and prototype solutions. Since there is rarely a single correct answer to any problem, the solutions are multiple, plural, open. Futures offer exponential opportunities compared to The Future.
Since we have to challenge that which exists to create that which does not, we have to ask: "what is possible?" Building impossibleness into curriculum forces students to challenge the resignation of the masses that some things are just impossible. Often, an expert will make a glaring declaration that a solution is impossible and it is generally accepted. One such example was that heavier than air travel was merely fictional and fantastical; it would never be a reality. Thankfully, we no longer have to survive the drudgery of a weeks long trip from New York to Paris via sea. We face yet another perceived impossibility right now. There are people who believe that humans will not be able to sustain colonies on Mars. That it is, in their minds, an impossibility. Why? There are probably several reasons. Some may not understand the infrastructures presently in development to solve the major problems involved with travel to and living on Mars. Some may not understand that happy accidents happen which immediately make the impossible possible. Some may not believe that humans actually have walked on the Moon. Whatever the reason, those perceptions can be proven wrong if we teach kids how to defy impossibleness. It's my favorite thing to do as an action-based design school facilitator.
Help us make these pillars popular thought. Help us put into action the behaviors, mindsets, and habits required to see impossibleness as a challenge rather than a fact. Help us develop futures rather than waiting for the future to happen to us. If you love to challenge the status quo as much as we do in the MVAD, you might be a good fit for a partner, mentor, advisor, or fellow learner/maker.