I came across this blogpost today, written by Harold Jarche and mentioned by Wilfred Rubens. He explains a summary by Curtis Ogden of the differences between network-centric and hierarchy-centric thinking, called “Network Thinking”. Based upon 5 ideas, this theory is a refreshing view on how we should organize:
- Adaptability instead of control
- Emergence instead of predictability
- Resilience and redundancy
- Contributions before credentials
- Diversity and divergence
I believe schools work the same way. Imagine a school build upon these principles! It would create a very open ecosystem, as Harold calls it. A school should be an ecosystem. Not a place where knowledge is poured into the heads of the students (hierarchy thinking), but instead a collaboration of thoughts created by a network.
Letting go of control and embracing emergence of unpredictable new outcomes is a second item. This is a very important characteristic in our schools today. I have always wondered why we are so hooked on control? Why do we insist on knowing everything, every outcome, every answer, etc. when the world is made up of far more than any one person can hold, control. Why do we need to know in advance everything our students do or will do? The ecosystem described above is one where goals can be set, but the way or the means to achieve them should not be uniform.
Also there should be made available the time and space needed to achieve certain goals. Not by stipulating a path in advance, but giving the learners the freedom to “wrestle” with the information, so they can interpret it the way they need to, in order to “get it”. It’s this wrestling that enables higher learning. Learning about something is done not only by reading 1 source, 1 book, but instead give students access to multiple views on the subject. Give them the means to compare notes with each other, but also other experts! It is by this way, our students will be able to be flexible and able to adapt to the circumstances at hand. This is one of the most common items of the “21st century skills”-list. This diversity in which we live, enriches our environment. Using it instead of standardizing everything to “one-size-fits-all” will enable more creativity and ingenuity.
Interesting, this Network Thinking!