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Readiness vs preparedness

Posted on: July 4, 2015

This week there were a few online rumblings on being “future ready” in education. These are barks woofing up the wrong tree.

You cannot be truly future ready, but you can be prepared. Readiness is a state of body (being); preparedness is a state of mind (thinking and doing).

For example, you cannot be fully ready for an earthquake, but you can be prepared for one. Likewise, you cannot be absolutely ready for the uncertain future of education, but you can be prepared for what comes. In both cases, the unpredictability of events prevents complete readiness. The capacity of people to respond positively is a sign of preparedness.

I came to this realization after reflecting on this at least four other times:

Now I add a bit more to the mix.

Prepare, Adapt, Survive by matthileo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  matthileo 

I am not playing some petty semantic game. Words not only hold meanings, they also represent values and can shape behaviours. A non-critical use of “future ready” sets people up for an unrealistic task.

Readiness is like a binary state: You are either ready (1) or you are not (0). You are either ready to leave home or you are not. If you think you are not sure, you are actually not ready.

It is all right not to be ready, particularly if the circumstances change constantly. You will manage if you are prepared to adjust, improvise, or change.

Pragmatically speaking, we need thinkers and doers who do not just feed the rhetoric of being “future ready” but focus instead on preparing constantly.

There are bad and good ways to prepare. There are some people in the world who actively prepare for a fictional zombie apocalypse. Sometimes they seem to do this so that if it happens, they can say “I told you so!”.

This is not why educators should prepare for change. We prepare because what we do with educational technology, for example, is important now. Despite how quickly technology can change, being immersed with it keeps us nimble and adaptable. We prepare because such practice helps now and such a mindset also helps in the future.

1 Response to "Readiness vs preparedness"

mushydot: RT @ashley: Educators cannot be future-ready but they can be in a state of constant preparation #edsg… via


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