Restoring resiliency in education

When forests experience an episode of creative destruction, they lose their efficiency, rigidity and momentum toward total collapse. They may endure partial devastation from floods, droughts, insects or fire. They become more resilient as a result. I find this to be a great metaphor for anticipating education reforms.

A resilient forest is less efficient. In social systems, this equates to the constituencies remaining or becoming "high maintenance" and labor intensive. The upkeep becomes more costly. Everything needs more personal attention. More time is taken for outreach, bridging and bonding. There is more listening and relating. The issues are more diverse and complicated. The synergies are less consistent. The outcomes are more varied.

When any system becomes less efficient, there is more creativity, innovation and novelty. The niches that had been locked up in done deals become explorable and exploitable. Experiments come back into the mix. There is more disequilibrium and instability. Yet the chances are greatly increased to respond to the long list of issues that efficient college systems cannot handle.

The loss of efficiency means there are fewer mechanisms that tightly-couple cause and effect or provocation and response. The loose-coupling says "not so fast" instead of "consider it done". The system considers new options and innovative combinations of current resources.

Increased resilience implies the downfall of legacy subsystems. Time-honored arrangements for coordinating activities and resources fall by the wayside. Meanwhile, there's an uprising of new growth, new species and new reciprocities. There's an upside to the down cycle.

When education systems experience episodes of creative destruction from Web 2.0 and cultural changes, these dynamics could easily come into play.

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