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Du monde entier

Edith Ackermann

Visiting Scientist,

Cambridge, United States

Human intelligence itself is about establishing an inner dialog between what is and what could be, between actualities and possibilities.

The best thing to give a child is roots and wings. Yet no child will fly if not securely attached!

To be human is to dream, and to dream is to imagine! Human intelligence itself is about establishing an inner dialog between what is and what could be, between actualities and possibilities. Envisioning what’s not is a prerequisite to both rational and creative thinking. To be human is also to create the conditions which allow us to explore otherwise “dangerous” ideas on safe grounds, usually through play, and to find our ways and places in the world. People spend much of their time staking their territories, carving out their niches, and adjusting their surroundings to fit their needs. Early on, human infants are eager to venture into the unknown, provided they see a possibility of return!

It is also a part of what makes us human to presume that we know better than others what’s good for them, and to forget that one man’s dreams can be another’s nightmare! Any creative leap designed to improve other people’s lives (“educate” them on their behalf) is a balancing act with potentially devastating consequences. At the other end of the spectrum, our culture as a whole seems to be losing its bearings:  erring mindlessly, driven by the spur of the moment, and incapable of holding back, seeing through, or regulating its own erratic swings.

What the future holds in store for us is hard to guess. One thing stands out though. Entrepreneurial qualities, IQ, or concerted efforts to boost today’s children’s growth potential and scholarly achievements won’t suffice! For it is our model of growth itself (more, faster, better/consume and dispose) that needs to be questioned for the paradoxes it engenders. It will take much wisdom, in the times to come, to use a person’s intelligence in ways that won’t undermine the grounds on which we stand.

I dream of a world where educators, business leaders, and decision-makers will use the tools and resources available to help today’s hurried kids, and their families, regain an appreciation for things well done and, together, rethink the impact of their acts. A world where people, once again, will care to cultivate their garden, literally and metaphorically, knowing it is ultimately its livelihood that matters, as well as the physical and emotional well-being of its inhabitants.

In 2112, we will remain connected not only locally and globally, but also steeped in the ground, alert to the senses, aware of our bodies, and in touch with ourselves, and with others. Our lives will be simpler but fuller. Personal fulfillment and collective well-being will override smarts, spark, and tech-savvy. Our children are showing us the way. Many are already quitting the rat race! We rely on their insights to be able to pursue our dreams!

Edith K. Ackermann Bio:

Edith K. Ackermann is an Honorary Professor of Psychology, University of Aix-Marseille, France, and Visiting Scientist at the MIT School of Architecture, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Current collaborations include the Exploratorium Science Museum, San Francisco, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, AIA New York, and The LEGO group, Denmark. Previously, Ackermann was a Senior Research Scientist at MERL – A Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts; an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and a Scientific Collaborator at the International Center of “Epistemologie génétique,” under the direction of Jean Piaget. She earned a Doctor of Developmental Psychology; two Master's degrees in Developmental and Clinical Psychology; and a Bachelor of Experimental Psychology, all from the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

“In my work, I team up with partners from varying backgrounds to help shape the future of learning in a digital world. I study how today’s youngsters see themselves, relate to others, use space, and treat things. Two lessons I have learned: When it comes to learning and creative uses of technologies, children have more to teach adults than adults to children! When it comes to innovating for others, don’t guess what they want or do what they say: co-create what they—and you—will love once it is there!” (E. Ackermann)