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  • Writer's pictureCoLab

Should we make education work?

Time to decide which question we are exploring an answer for!


Pause and reflect on these 3 questions before reading further:

  • Does knowledge about 'what works' exists?

  • Is teaching an intervention and learning an outcome?

  • Can we make education work?

Hoping that you have reflected on them, let me now take you through my reflections here:

  • 'What works' - as knowledge does not really exist in the exactly same form as expected.

  • Why? - because it is what 'has worked' in some other context and it is not exactly what 'will work' in the context we are looking to apply.

  • To get that knowledge of 'what works', we at CoLab ensure that a solution is tested in a sample size with which we feel confident about that a solution will be applicable in any context. This also enlists the elements of the solution that needs to be contextualised.

  • There is nothing that can be called as an input and an output / outcome because there is a lot that happens between the two. We at CoLab ensure that we have every step of what leads to what is designed, tested and piloted in different phases before we put it out as an evidence-informed design process.

  • And, yes, we can make education work, but not in the Newtonian, quasi-causal way that is only applicable to closed, deterministic, linear systems. Because there is a larger question that requires a shared understanding so that the whole question of 'working' becomes meaningful.

That larger question is - What kind of system is education?

  • Education is an open system - it has porous borders towards what is outside of education.

  • Education is a semiotic system - it doesn't run on push and pull, but runs on meaning interpretation and communication.

  • Education is recursive - people in the system are able to think and they act on the basis of their thoughts that creates interesting feedback loops into the system.

How can we move such a system towards predictable operation? - by reducing the complexity in 3 ways:

  • We reduce openness by not having education on the streets but having it in buildings, classrooms and curricula and age groups.

  • We reduce interpretation through curricula and assessment

  • We reduce recursivity, we reduce the divergent thinking through teacher education

And, as educators most of us do this - reducing the complexity which is fine until we reach a tipping point - where education turns into into total control (indoctrination).


Should we ask the question - 'Can education work?' or 'What should education works for?'


Should education work only for - qualification, knowledge and skills or is there something more that we are missing out upon?


Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for another blog as a followup to this one.

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