Education for uncertain childhood futures

Year: 2019

Author: Knight, Linda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In May 2019 The Guardian journalist Lorena Allam (2019) reported that despite making up only 5% of young people in Australia, Indigenous children and youth are “17 times more likely to be in detention than other Australians”.

During her UN-sponsored research into disaster zones Karen Malone (2017) observes how “thyroid cancer among children is one sickness the medical world has definitively linked to radiation after the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. If treated, it is rarely fatal, and early detection is a plus, but patients are on medication for the rest of their lives.” (p. 210).

The UNHCR refugee agency reports that “Today, there are nearly 15 million refugees globally, half of which are children. Many have no choice but to live in refugee camps, where an absence or lack of light after sunset can have a devastating effect on safety and security” (Rich, 2015).

I present here a provocation. Visions of future childhoods are constructed from mixed pasts/presences/futures temporalities that are immersed in crisis discourses: the future cyborgian child defined by datalogic and algorithmic controls; the biohacked child surviving the ruins of the anthropocene; the invisible child existing (but not living) as a displaced non-citizen; the activist child fighting the prejudices and challenges of a white supremacist world.

Given these crises I ask how on ‘earth’ do we prepare for future childhoods that are so divergent, uncertain and contingent? And “under what conditions is it possible to project A Future when we live in a world where our individual futurities are so precarious” (Haapoja, 2019)? How do we decide what is important for these uncertain future childhoods?


Allam, L (2019) Young Indigenous 17 times more likely to be in detention than other Australians. The Guardian. [] Accessed 11 June 2019.

Haapoja, T (2019) Three modalities of futurelessness. This is not a blog [] Accessed 11 June 2019.

Malone, K. (2017) Children in the Anthropocene: Rethinking sustainability and child friendliness in cities. Palgrave.

Rich, S. (2015) Brighter lives for refugees: thank you for supporting the brighter lives for refugees campaign. UNHCR [] Accessed 11 June 2019.