Fractal education

I love fractals. They are essentially art made from maths. The Mandelbrot set pictured here is one such fractal, and I sometimes use it in my talks to illustrate a key educational point.

Fractals are varied, but the self-similar examples such as the Mandelbrot Set replicate their patterns at every iteration, perfectly repeating themselves almost to infinity. Essentially fractals represent recursive mathematical equations, but don't ask me to explain exactly how they work - I'm not a mathematician. The important point here is that they continually repeat themselves, with no deviation from the original. And some education is similar in nature.

The teacher has learnt a body of knowledge around their specialism, and can teach this readily to the students. However, if that is all that occurs, and the students go away knowing exactly what the teacher knows, and nothing more, then I believe education has failed. If nothing new is ever learnt, humanity will be in crisis. And before you point out to me that university is where all the new learning and research is done, I would like to mention that schools are great places to do research. Some very important new things are continually learnt in compulsory education. But this only occurs when the teachers sees themselves as a co-learner alongside their students. One example of this is seen in the TED video featuring neuroscientist Beau Lotto and one of his research collaborators, Amy O'Toole - a student from Blackawton Primary School in Devon (below). Amy and her fellow primary school students became the youngest ever children to publish their research in a peer reviewed journal at just 10 years old. The study was on a science project researching into the vision of bees.


We need to move from fractal, recursive education to discursive learning and push the boundaries of our knowledge constantly. And this also applies to our school children. As Einstein once remarked, 'We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.'

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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Fractal education by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.br />

Comments

Los fractales, Steve, representan la uniformidad, mejor dicho, la uniformización, todo lo contrario a la inclusion y la personalización, por eso mismo creo que si bien mucha gente los adora porque son "patrones exactos2 los que abogamos por la diversidad luchamos contra ellos.

@juandoming
Simon Ensor said…
Hmm. Fractal Education - not sure about that as a concept.

But you have sparked my curiosity:

If we shift to "fractal learning"

Stephen Downes http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=50373

Michele Pacansky-Brock

http://brocansky.com/2014/07/the-fractal-life-my-day-of-learning-with-linkedin.html

Interestingly Steve Wheeler, Stephen Downes and Michele Pacansky-Brock are récurrent figures in my emerging learning story.

Plus Ca change plus c'est la meme chose (et personnes)

Hence I conclude: learning is fractal :-)

Education is often an attempt to simplify fractal complexity.

Thanks for helping me think!

PS. I was speaking about your role in my learning only yesterday.

Si el aprendizaje es fractal no puede ser inclusivo y por tanto es imposible que sea aprendizaje ya que aprender todos por igual no solo es materialmente imposible, sino que con la aparicion de las TIC, intenrnet etc... aún lo hacen más imposible.

@juandoming

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