When working with issues of rural sustainability or considering the suitability of elements of a new curriculum document for rural students I have used my ideas about what rural communities will require of community members in the future. That is, I have attempted to image rural futures, and used those expectations as a tool for a critical reading of rural education and curriculum documents. Gough's (2010) research on futures thinking has provided a means for being more precise and methodical in thinking about rural futures. In his research he identified three broad categories of futures thinking: probable futures; possible futures; and preferable futures. Conclusions about probably futures appear to provide the most valuable insights into rural futures and for rural education. Probable futures can be developed through examination of present events and trends. Methods and procedures for developing images of probable futures include inferring from present events and trends, consensus about what might or should happen, and looking at combinations of the ideas from these methods.
In this paper I will outline reasons for the importance of identifying rural futures. I will then present findings from a survey of articles about events and activities in rural South Australia appearing in mainstream print media and rural publications. Findings indicate that probably rural communities in the future will require members with high levels of ability in literacy, numeracy, facility with use of digital media, problem-solving and leadership. With these skills and abilities available in rural communities there will be increased opportunities for strong advocacy for rural education and advancement towards preferred futures for rural communities.