At this time of year, there is no shortage of advice about making resolutions. The New Year is sold to us as a moment of renewal - a chance to become a slightly better version of ourselves. Most of these resolutions don't stick because habits, particularly bad ones like not exercising, are hard to break. … Continue reading Change one thing, change everything
People feel they understand complex phenomena with far greater precision, coherence, and depth than they really do; they are subject to an illusion - an illusion of explanatory depth.Rozenblit and Keil, 2002 How does a toilet work? I am confident that I have a fairly good idea. If asked, I would rate my confidence at … Continue reading Everyday mechanisms
Over the last 18 months, I have been co-authoring a new book with Becky Allen and Ben White. It is about educational fads. More broadly, it is about why it is so difficult to improve the school system. The time we spent researching and developing our ideas generated far too much content to fit in … Continue reading Can we make our schools anti-fragile?
When you go behind the label ‘human error’, you see people and organizations trying to cope with complexity, continually adapting, evolving along with the changing nature of risk in their operations. Eileen Munro, Munro Review of Child Protection There are two warnings before you read this post. First, it is long as it was originally … Continue reading Catastrophic error
complex processes produce order and beauty when you zoom out and look at them from enough distance.Nate Silver (2012) In the 1960s, the US Navy coined the acronym KISS. It stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. As a design principle, it takes some beating. The thing is, we are not up to the job of … Continue reading KISS
Being certain is emotionally satisfying. Whether it is knowing an answer in a pub quiz, retrieving the name of someone you haven't seen for ages, or working out why the dishwasher has stopped working, there is a tiny release of positivity when we 'know' something. The neurologist Robert Burton calls this feeling 'the sensation of … Continue reading Causes work in teams
Problems are gritty, grounded, local. We only understand them close up, case by case. We're tempted by high level solutions when we should be getting down and dirty. The solution may lay in the idiosyncratic and pragmatic, not the intellectual.Michael Blastland, The Hidden Half (2019) I'm going to go out on a limb here and … Continue reading The School Leader as Plumber
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world, often formed in childhood, which blends the real world with imaginary places, characters, and events. Children may develop a … Continue reading The Imagined School
If we look at the history of educational reform - whether it be the introduction of a universal right to education, the dismantling of the tripartite system, or the attempt to sideline local authority control - we may view it as being driven by radical ideas and powerful interest groups, or as a consequence of … Continue reading Is the education system about to reform?
From where does a school's persona arise? And what role does the headteacher play in creating this persona? There has been much written and said about school culture - what we mean by the term, how it comes about. In this post I would like to highlight a systems perspective on this matter. Discussions around … Continue reading Culture and Context