This is an interesting idea, but how do you really do it?

Schools should teach life course skills to help children cope with future longevity

Sarah Harper, Professor of Gerontology and Demography of OIA [Oxford Institute of Aging], called on Schools to consider introducing life course skills to help children cope with future longevity.

"Half of the girls born in the UK at the end of last century are predicted to live into the 22nd Century," said Harper. "it is thus essential that our schools start to prepare our children for the significant increases in longevity which we are now facing…. Helping young children understand that they have many options over their lives – when to study, when to have children, when to work and for how long – and that their lives may not be the current pattern of 'education, work, retirement' – will be a first start. Older children will most certainly need to learn life course skills such as financial preparation for times of need, understanding healthy living, knowing how to increase their skills across their lives. Future generations will have to rely far more on their own resources, and not rely on government or others to look after them. We need to ensure that they have the skills to cope with the very varied life options that they will face in the 21st Century".

I'm certainly all for the idea of teaching people to cope with the future, and kids deserve as much attention among futurists as CEOs, but I think there's a big difference between explaining to kids that they could live longer than their grandparents, and making sense of that in their own lives. Translating those broad trends into a shadow that can fall on today's decisions is tough– and something that very few futurists have really thought seriously about.

The statement that "Future generations will have to rely far more on their own resources, and not rely on government or others to look after them" is also striking. Is this mainly a reflection of the general anxiety among Western policy wonks over entitlements and the cost of social services, or is there a deeper claim here about either the relationship between individuals and the state in the next century, or even about the natural relationship between aging and the role governments play in your life?