Some words, and agendas attached to them, have come to dominate the discourse in many schools and systems, I would argue that this is to their detriment. The prominence given to these words, they dominate so much thinking and practice, has led some to lose sight of all that we are trying to achieve, and how we might do that. Education and learning are complex activities, but ones where people sit at their core. People should be central in our thinking and our actions, not systems, structures and devices designed to manage what is often unmanageable.
I read an article today put on Twitter by Rachel Lofthouse, 'The empty brain' by Robert Epstein @aeon.co, about how it is a nonsense to view the brain like a computer. Epstein argues convincingly that our brains do not operate like computers in that they aren't controlled or programmed by algorithms, they don't store words, memories and information like computers do, for retrieval later. For this to happen each individual cell would need to have these capabilities. In truth, we still understand very little about how our brains do work, but what we are coming to recognise is that every single brain is unique to the individual, and as we seek to understand more we will have to focus more and more on individuals and their particular ways of thinking and being, in relation to their particular context and experiences! That may take a while.
I think that schools and education systems are similar. Every one is unique and different. To my mind this has to be so, because every school, classroom and system is made real by different individuals, with their individual ways of thinking and being. Trying to devise a model or a system that will work in all circumstances is possibly a fruitless waste of our time or energies. In a later tweet today, Rachel suggested that the way forward may lie in '..the need for a little phronesis. Wisdom in and through thoughtful practice' when she responded to a query about dealing with conflicting pieces of 'evidence' and research. I think we discard such suggestions too easily when we still feel we can 'manage' and 'control' complex systems. The best we can seek to do would seem to be to better understand them and their particular characteristics, then seek to grow and develop them organically from within.
If we were to adopt such an approach, then perhaps our focus would return to where it should always be, the learners and the people around them who are trying to support their personal development and growth.
My two pictorial representations are below. I am sure everyone could construct their own. They would all be different in some way, as will your perceptions of this piece.