Thoughts on "Seeing the whole picture"

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    Avatar of Lewis A. Rhodes
    Lewis A. Rhodes

    As I opened the latest Responsible Subversives Newsletter: What is education for? several words and phrases immediately caught my attention
    1.  a purpose stated as: Equipping future generations to shape a better world
    2.  A description of the context of UK education that seemed similar to what’s happening in the US  – such as
         –concerns with planned changes to …. examinations
         —politicians going  round in circles. Political point scoring trumping the fundamentals of education every time
    3.  a podcast:  Education: it’s about seeing the whole picture.
      …and then at the bottom, the name of an old friend, associate and co-learning thinking partner – John Abbott.
     In terms of full disclosure, I need to explain why these caught my attention, and provide a bigger picture as context for citing John’ role in turning me from a “Responsible” Subversive into a “response-able” subversive
    •            I was an early participant in the 21st Century Learning Initiative’s knowledge synthesizing and generating conferences held at Wingspread. These involvedr a unique group of individuals whose thinking and practices were at the cutting edge of the new understandings. 
    John was the “strange attractor” who brought together these varying perspectives on the seemingly complex factors impacting schooling to focus on the simple principles of learning at their common cores.
    •            My reason for noting the “seeing the whole picture” title of the podcast was that I came to those meetings with a different lens for “seeing the whole picture” that helped me make sense of the varying perspectives and ultimately led to much of the content on my current learning-sharing website whose homepage asks:
    “Having trouble making sense of schools?
…trying to connect-the-dots
…get-out-of-the-box to find a different Big Picture?

    ….. Find out if this site can help you Think differently about what you See People Doing every day in schools?
    •            Additionally, several products on the site were direct outgrowths of the Wingspread experiences:
    One offers a tool for understanding the consequences of “going against the grain of the brain”
    •    Finally, as I read the purpose statement: “Equipping future generations to shape a better world,” I realized how much the 21st Century LI had helped transform me from a “Responsible” Subversive into a “response-able” subversive.  One who could focus not just on “future” generations, but had the understanding to respond to the needs of those who have no choice but to deal with today’s.
     •            Don’t know if any of the original Wingspread participants are still around, but if so, would enjoy exchanging thoughts now that we’re actually in the 21st century.
    Lew Rhodes


    Hi Lew

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and links. I’m sure John will be thrilled to see you here and I have passed on the link to him. I like your use of the word ‘response-able’ – absolutely what we all need to be in order to help guide our children both today and in the future.




    Hi Lew, it’s good to be reminded of Wingspread, and i am fascinated by your description of me as a ‘strange attractor’. I think you meant it in quite a flattering way, for over the years I seem to have attracted people around me with far more fascinating ideas than my own. The issue remains as to how we capitalise on all this.  I have often taken up cudgels with our Minster of Education Michael Gove but feel increasingly incensed with his frequent description of Daniel Willingham’s work as being ‘brilliant’… especially when he urges a very narrow cognitive-science view that motivation is stengthened by the challenge of exams. I am in touch with Dan Willingham, and will be producing a blog on this in the near future.

    It would be good if more of the Wingspread group could join in this conversation, for it seems that rather than seeking to create ever-deeper and more meaningful synthesis, academia has become the battleground between separate specialisms.

    Here more from you,

    best wishes




    Avatar of Lewis A. Rhodes
    Lewis A. Rhodes

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    John – I used “strange attractor” in the flattering way that “Chaos Theory” suggests: “Strange Attractors are mysterious focal points or fields that seem to generate order within and among seemingly random events.”  (It’s the “attractor,” not the “strange” that applies to you   :-) )

    In education, I’ve always found that strange attractor to be the personal need of each person to make a difference with children.  That’s what your Wingspread conferences tapped into…and the need today, as you note, is to do it again to break through the walls that keep people from developing and acting on the base of common knowledge they all need.  Is that still part of your mission?

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