May 16, 2006
Future Time Orientation

Along with many of our readers, I was confused by the term "future time orientation" as used in the Seattle Public School's definition of cultural racism. (Mentioned in this SP article) So I did some Googling.

It turns out, judging by the number of hits, "time orientation" is a big topic in education and psychology, but hard definitions are not easy to find. The best I've seen is "how people compare the present to the future [or the past]." Even that definition is sketchy, so I'll summarize my impressions from reading a number of pages relating to the subject.

The time orientation of a person or culture can be past, present or future. (There are other dimensions, such as monochronic and polychronic, which we don't need to go into here.) Past-oriented cultures tend to believe all the great decisions were made in the past, and present society is a degenerate version of some past golden age. They don't value innovation highly, preferring to preserve what already exists. Tibet is a good example of such a culture, and fundamentalist Islam fits the definition, too. Future-oriented people, in contrast, believe in setting goals, planning how to reach them and innovating when necessary to accomplish their aims. Western society is the prime example of a future-oriented culture, and even for us it is a relatively recent invention, really only arising during the Renaissance. Present-oriented folks think only about the here and now, not considering how their acts relate to tradition or will effect their happiness in the future. They are impulsive and will not delay immediate gratification for some greater future reward.

Which of these orientations is best? According to the Seattle Public Schools, even asking the question is racist. However, free academic inquiry still exists as an idea, even if it is dying in the academy, so I will attempt an answer.

Future time oriented cultures have higher standards of living and healthier populations than others, because they produce innovations to create a better life. Future-oriented individuals are more likely to sacrifice in the present (such as studying for exams rather than playing) for reward in the future. They are also more likely to plan ahead for career and retirement, and so be less dependent as they get older. Past-oriented people are more passive but at least have strong tradition to fall back on. If that tradition includes saving for a rainy day or being part of an extended family that helps in old age, a person can do rather well. Present-orientation doesn't provide any safeguards. Too many of our citizens fall in this category, spending themselves into debt, having unprotected sex, and engaging in other risky behaviors without thought of the consequences.

Future time orientation provides more benefits than the other two, and the schools should promote that outlook. "Be prepared," as the Boy Scouts say, and beyond that teach children to know what they want out of life and how to plan and sacrifice to achieve their goals. To do less is to condemn them to a life of sloth and ignorance.

Posted by Andy MacDonald at May 16, 2006 11:55 AM | Email This
1. Good golly, that web page from the Seattle Public schools is incredible. We pay people to sit around and make this crap up?

Someone can actually think that "future time orientation" is a form of racism, and then instutionalize such a stupid idea on a publically funded web site?

Same with individualism vs. "collective ideology" - in other words, people are racist if they aren't part of the Borg?

They can, with a straight face, tell themselve and, worse, kids, that whites are the only racists on the planet? These people have obviously never travelled, because the worst racists and cultural/ethnic/race supremists I've seen are not white Americans. In fact, they aren't even white.

It's no wonder Seattle public schools are such a mess and fail miserably at the one thing we can all agree they should be doing - education kids.

Posted by: BananaLand on May 16, 2006 12:13 PM
2. Here's what I wrote in the comments of the previous post:

"having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology"


We're really afraid of living in a world where merit is the only discerning factor in considering people. That will put a huge damper on our goal of implementing Marxism and other collectivist ideologies and turning the United States away from the rule of law and the concept of individual freedom. So we think it's important to publish this sham definition of racism to try and paint even success and other traditional metrics of value as racist.

In light of the current post and considering just the phrase "future time orientation" it's pretty clear that those who use it intend to classify Western values without specifically assigning merit to them. In other words, leftists and other psychobabble types prefer to think in multicultural terms where all cultures are equal. They believe that Islamic culture is equal to that of American culture, even though all the evidence shows that American culture and Western values are superior.

The relativist left always avoids superlatives and objective, rational, deterministic, merit based thinking, becaused all of that undermines and devalues the philsophy behind Marxism. Marxism always fails in the real world. The only way to sell it is to dress it up with pretty words like "Progressive" and dress Capitalism down with terms like "Future Time Orientation."

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 16, 2006 12:13 PM
3. So, the Seattle school system is telling us that if the government threatens to take away our property or put us in jail, at some future date, if we don't pay our school taxes then the government is racist?

Posted by: Huey on May 16, 2006 12:39 PM
4. WTF is all i can say.

Posted by: righton on May 16, 2006 01:18 PM
5. I guess they wouldn't want me. I've spent too much of my life being future-oriented. :-) They ought to try it sometime.

(and don't give me grief about being 'racist.' I'm of mixed ethnicity and never fit neatly into any of those little checkboxes!)

Posted by: Misty on May 16, 2006 01:37 PM
6. Welcome to Seattlistan and the future oriented SSD looking to impose Secular law in a very Talibanesque way....

If we capitulate now is it called dumbhitude?

It is incredible; if PC does not work, socialism, communism are beaten back and then the threat of sharia law is not working then they will try this...explicitly implying any white kid thinking about tomorrow is a racist and every non white is subjected to the horrors of a society that values liberty rather than teaching math, reading, writing. This is opening the door to the next logical step for their illogic. Reeducation and Prision!

Should liberals be allowed to shout evil in a crowded society when the real aim is not to destroy evil but use it to kill all of us in the stampede to their solution?

Could the US Military explicitly exclude the SSD HQ from any form of protection as clearly they are the enemy and do not need any protection from my enemies.

Posted by: Col. Hogan on May 16, 2006 01:42 PM
7. How interesting:

The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society."

According to them, Racism:
1. Only happens in the United States;
2. Is caused only by 'Whites';
3. Is experienced only by 'Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians'; and
4. Is caused only by those with 'more social power' and experienced only by those with 'little social power.

According to the Seattle Public Schools, 'Whites' have never been the victims of racism, nor has any group outside of the United States. I supposed the Taliban in Afghanistan was not racist because they weren't Whites from the U.S.

It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Posted by: Larry on May 16, 2006 02:11 PM
8. After glancing over a couple pages of this trype, I've concluded that we should have this non-sense read to Al-qaeda detainees at Guantanomo for hours at a time in order to get them to divulge the whereabouts of Bin Laden.
Talk about torturous writing.

Posted by: Reporterward on May 16, 2006 02:19 PM
9. I've spent my coffee break this afternoon reviewing this particular blog line. I've also checked some of the better web sites for reviewing Marxist ideology. The parallels are stunning.

The SSD may write of cultural racism but this is classic Marx. And I am convinced this isn't an accident.

"A communist society," writes Herr Marx, "is one in which human beings freely develop their nature in cooperative production." So,if the State owns and runs everything, then there is no need for so called "racist" future orientation, or the acquisition of wealth. We need only focus on the present and living our happy communal lives.

You are dying the death of a thousand cuts Seattle, and that may be your choice. But you are taking the rest of us with you. I envision a future time orientation where there is a whole new school board. You should too.

Vote them out.

Posted by: Diogenes on May 16, 2006 02:21 PM
10. "I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit... It's the only way to be sure."
-- Sigourney Weaver as Flight Officer Ellen Ripley, Aliens (Twetieth Century Fox, 1986)

Cr*p like this is why we can no longer believe meaningful and lasting reform in the govenment schools is possible. There are too many of these post-modern PC nitwits too deeply entrenched in our own version of the madrassas to believe that any attempt at reform would have any chance.

Stop rearranging the deck chairs. Turn off the pumps. Bring in the lifeboats and rescue fleet (vouchers, charter schools, home schools), and let it sink. It's the only way to be sure.

Posted by: TB on May 16, 2006 02:34 PM
11. So they're laying off teachers at the very same time that they're hiring a luminary like this Hollins woman? So much for putting kids first.

Our servicemen in WWII had an acronym that describes SSD perfectly: FUBAR! Nothing more needs to be said.

It was such a relief when I finally had the coin to pull my kid out of that cesspool and get him into Catholic school.

Posted by: speedloaded on May 16, 2006 04:25 PM
12. The issue of future- vs. present-orientedness was addressed as far back as 1968 by Edward Banfield in his prophetic and controversial book "The Unheavenly City". He nailed not only this characteristic of what since became known as the "underclass" (I once heard a reference to the "bioclass"--humans who respond only to primitive biological urges to eat, sleep, stay warm and dry, defecate, and reproduce).

There is one most glaring difference between liberalism in the 60's and its malevolent 21st century mutation. Both 60's liberals and conservatives believed agreed on the existence and extent of urban and societal problems, even though only liberals held these could be cured with the right government initiatives and intervention. Contemporary liberals, however, not only hold that phenomena such as present-orientedness are not only not problems (what Daniel Patrick Moynihan called "Defining Deviancy Down") but positively GOOD and PREFERABLE to the dreary, anxious, and desperate lives we hidebound suburbanites live (what Charles Krauthammer called "Defining Deviancy Up").

Furthermore, while 60's liberals at least gave lip service to free speech and First Amendment rights (convenient when they were out of power), today's left makes no apology for its blatant effort to silence its opposition in the name of some unspecified "right not to be offended" held ONLY by non-white, non-straight, non-male individuals.

I would like to say that resistance is building, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Posted by: Howard Hirsch on May 16, 2006 05:17 PM
13. Why do the parents in this district put up with this nonsense??

Posted by: Me on May 16, 2006 10:28 PM
14. TB - Too funny! Excellent quote!

Posted by: Peggy U on May 17, 2006 10:03 AM
15. The Seattle school district has a nasty, insane message for budding entrepreneurs, civil libertarians, and free market conservatives: your belief in individual rights or individual initiative brands you as a racist.

The Seattle Public Schools define individualism as a form of “cultural racism,” declaring that “cultural racism” includes “emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology.”

On their web site, they also define racism to include stereotypically white traits such as “future time orientation,” which seems to be a pejorative expression for studying and “acting white” to reap future advancement rather than fatalistically enjoying the present.

It is racist for the Seattle schools to stereotype achievement as a “white” characteristic. Plenty of non-whites study and exercise self-discipline. No school system should disparage student studying and achievement. That is at odds with a school system’s basic educational mission.

In an apparent conflict with federal law, the Seattle schools deny that whites can be the victims of racism. They define racism as limited to acts against groups that have “little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites).”

By contrast, federal appeals courts routinely rule against institutions that fire or harass white employees, recognizing that whites can indeed be victims of racism. See, e.g., Bowen v. Missouri Department of Social Services (2002) (racial harassment of white employee by black co-worker); Taxman v. Board of Education (1996) (termination of white teacher instead of black teacher). And the Supreme Court held that racial discrimination against whites by local governments is generally illegal in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989). Affirmative action can’t be used to justify terminating or harassing an employee.

The Seattle schools’ racist policy, which appears to condone unlawful racial discrimination and retaliation against whites, is on the web site of its Equity and Race Relations department, directed by Caprice Hollins, a politically-correct self-proclaimed multicultural “educator.” Some education.

It appears that the Seattle schools would rather spend their time teaching (and practicing) racism, rather than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Posted by: Hans Bader on May 19, 2006 11:38 AM
16. Where are the liberal trolls?

Why doesn't Bruce expound the virtue of present-orientation and liberal living in the now?
Where is unkl ditz on gotcha future-orientation against Karl Rove?
How about that tolerant present-orientated private24 and his highly insightful reasons for keeping immigrants stupid and ignorant?
When will Dennis regale us with tales of derring-do by savages who murdered eachother in the name of tribalism until they lost to future oriented settlers who kicked their a$$ed up between their ears?

This could be such a rich dialogue about the liberal superiority of its pinheaded give-a-$hit present-orientated attitude.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on May 20, 2006 07:40 PM
17. Wow, this is absolutely unbelievable! At one time, my major critique of the works of Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, etc.) was that the villians (collectivists) did not truly correspond to reality--that they were a caricature, an exageration. I was wrong, sadly, and regrettably wrong. What evil, what terrible evil people would condone the thought process of the Seatle school board?

Posted by: Mitch on May 24, 2006 07:47 AM
18. "Future time orientation" is a mechanism to suggest, for political gain, that some races are "past time oriented" and that rascism that occured in the past is so ingrained in their culture that it effects those who were born after the racism occured. This bogus arguement is used to support the arguement for reparations and used to explain why certain cultures do not perform well as others academically, even though current sociological phenomena, such as children born to unwed mothers, have been shown to have a stronger cause-effect relationship.

I hope this crap is seen for what it's worth, but common sense seems more and more uncommon, especially in academia.

Posted by: wes on May 24, 2006 06:59 PM
19. Let's face it...and I'm going to be generationalist here...the baby-boomers are the root of all evil :) While my parents are Boomers and pretty strongly conservative libertarians, the "activist" segment of the Boomer population has wrought untold damage on the people, institutions, and even the history of this country.

My solemn hope is that once they all start dying off, this nonsense will cease. I see in my son (15) and his friends, as well as younger adults (early 20's), far more in common with my beliefs than those of the liberal pc-mongers in positions of power today. On the disturbing side, those same demographics don't see oral sex as sex...hmmm...they got that from a Boomer too.

Posted by: Scott on May 25, 2006 09:19 AM
20. The SSB is self-satirizing. They've come up with a definition of racism which is independent of race in order to justify collectivism. Only in the land of 451 where no word is subject to conventional definition can these folks survive. However, if they can remain in office after these revelations, they have proven one thing beyond a doubt: that the good citizens who elected them are not capable of self-governance.

Posted by: Bill on May 26, 2006 06:30 PM
21. Amused, there are liberals blogging about this issue, and they are as peeved at the bureaucrats in Seattle as everyone else is. The SSB's position is not liberal at all, it is, as Diogenes points out, Marxism clothed in the language of racial politics in order to grant it authority. True liberals would properly point out that the board is itself racist for claiming that one race or another is more likely to buy into "future time orientation" or "collective ideologies." The history of "collective ideology" is, after all, a European idea (weren't Marx, Lenin, and Stalin white?), and there were plenty of individual-oriented societies in the non-European world (Ghengis Khan, anyone?)

Posted by: Samuel Alito on May 30, 2006 10:36 AM
22. "weren't Marx, Lenin, and Stalin white?"

Marx was Jewish. Accordingly, marxism in all its forms has been predictably Jewish in nature, to the point where a diligent observer could reach the conclusions the two terms are synonymous.

* * *

Lenin was half Jewish and spoke Yiddish at home.

Stalin is said to have been at least part Jewish.

Posted by: Aldous on June 7, 2006 02:20 PM
23. I suppose that present orientation folks realize one thing that is true. The past is over and the future might never come...

Posted by: Sarah on June 8, 2006 04:23 PM
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