EARLY CHILDHOOD TODAY: How can educators and parents be responsive to the needs of children in the 21st century?

CORINNE KUYPERS-DENLINGER: First of all, we can prepare children for the future by helping them learn how to learn. We have to encourage their passion for discovery, foster their creativity and intuition, and teach children to appreciate their own individuality and uniqueness. Remember, we don't all have to be computer programmers. We don't really even have to know how computers work. But we will have to know how to use computers as tools. Adults must understand that there is nothing more important than education. We have to let our children see us demonstrate a love of learning, reading, seeing, and doing. Embracing learning as a lifelong pursuit better prepares us for the reality of the future-changing not just jobs, but careers, three or four times in a lifetime.

ECT: What are some of the most important emerging trends affecting families that you foresee for the next millennium?

KUYPERS-DENLINGER: One will be the growing diversity of the world's population, at least in the developed world. We will continue to be a multicultural global village. There will be no melting pot. People will go to school and work with people from different backgrounds, languages, cultures, and histories. And, as far as changes in education, we can look forward to lifelong learning.

ECT: Could you talk a little more about lifelong learning?

KUYPERS-DENLINGER: Each educational moment builds on the next. The Internet may play a much more important role in how workers and older adults study and learn, but early childhood and elementary education will continue to be about hands-on experiences and interaction. Learning to work cooperatively in groups will still be more important than learning facts and figures. Creativity, intuition, cooperation, and leadership are the skills that will still be needed in the workplace of the future.

ECT: What are some things we can look forward to in the next 25 years?

KUYPERS-DENLINGER: The extension of life-quality as well as years-and a growing interest in spirituality and humanitarianism, and developments in the life sciences. You know, we are going to be living so much longer, not to mention healthier. With people living so much longer and in such better shape, older people will need the mental stimulation of work long past the traditional age of retirement. And early childhood is when we develop the foundation for this active involvement in life-a foundation that enables us, as older people, to adapt to new situations, develop a love of learning, and have the confidence that we can acquire new skills throughout our lifetime.

Corinne Kuypers-Denlinger is executive director of Global Network's Trend Research and Analysis Division, which researches, identifies, and analyzes social, political, economic, and technological trends and interprets their impact.