“Future Studies: Education’s Front-View Mirror”

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Press Release

Jan 27, 2009

For Immediate Release

Contact: Nadine Fiedler

503-297-1894 ext 301


“Future Studies: Education’s Front-View Mirror”

What does the future hold? Mark Lawton presents the 2009 Esther Dayman Strong Lecture

Catlin Gabel teacher Mark Lawton will present the findings of his year-long foray into the field of future studies and its implications for education on Tuesday, February 24, at 7 p.m. in the Cabell Center on the school campus, 8825 SW Barnes Rd. The event, this year’s Esther Dayman Strong Lecture, is free and open to the public.

Lawton will present exciting developments of the near and far future, serious concerns, and world-wide trends in a dynamic, futuristic setting. His lecture will culminate with a provocative proposal to overhaul education by establishing future studies as the cornerstone of the high school program.

Mark Lawton’s interest in future studies began three years ago, when talking with students about the study of history. He asked. “Why not study the future?” His curiosity led him to the Media Lab at MIT (motto: Inventing a Better Future), where creative people envision and build for the future in a playful academic environment; to the New Yorker conference “Stories from the Near Future,” where he heard speakers including Rahm Emanuel (now President Obama’s chief of staff) speculate on what is to come; and to the annual conference of the World Future Society, a collection of futurists, forecasters, visionaries, and planners from all over the globe.

Lawton believes that in today’s fast-paced world, students must learn critical thinking skills, and that they must apply those skills in forecasting and preparing for the dramatic changes that are coming. “If you create plausible scenarios for the future, your organization will be ready to adapt, no matter what happens.” says Lawton. “And if you are forward thinking, you can shape the future you want instead of just responding to what happens.” In addition to teaching mathematics at Catlin Gabel, Lawton is director of community service and coach of the girls varsity soccer team. He earned a master of arts in liberal studies degree through the great books program at St. Johns College, and an ME in electrical engineering from the University of California-Berkeley. He earned two bachelor of science degrees from Syracuse University, in engineering and television production. In addition, Lawton was a teaching fellow at the Klingenstein Institute of Columbia University.

The Esther Dayman Strong Lectureship in the Humanities was created in 1987 by the Catlin Gabel School board of trustees. The board wished to establish a living memorial to the human and academic values Esther Dayman Strong nurtured throughout her life, and especially as principal of the Catlin-Hillside School from 1944 to 1958. The lecture honors her legacy of lifelong learning by paying tribute to the intellectual excellence demonstrated daily by Catlin Gabel’s own faculty and staff members.

About Catlin Gabel

Catlin Gabel serves Portland and the world as an educational catalyst, drawing together dedicated educators, motivated students, superb curricular resources, and thoughtfully applied technology, in a beautiful and functional setting, all for the purpose of forming bold learners who become responsible action-takers for life. Catlin Gabel is an independent, non-sectarian, progressive coeducational day school serving 730 students from preschool through twelfth grade. Its roots go back to the Portland Academy, founded in 1859. The school occupies 54 acres on Barnes Road, five miles west of downtown Portland.