Dr. Adrian Bejanof Duke, author of Design in Nature, has been kind enough to help clarify our understanding of how the constructal law will drive the design of future K-12 learning systems. The constructal law requires that systems that carry some flow tend towards a tree-shape design (see earlier posts for clarification). I queried him thusly: with massive interconnectivity amongst teachers, students, and nodes of knowledge management around the globe, will this not lead to a structure of the knowledge web that can be more accurately mapped as a net or web, not a tree-shaped structure? I did not understand why schools or colleges must be the largest flow points of knowledge in the future.
The flow is from area to point, from the plain to the river mouth. It is tree shaped.
In education of all kinds, including sports training, the area is the inhabited land, and the point is the university, or the K-12 school.
The pathways are tree shaped, because they connect the area (an infinite number of points, approximated by the large student population) to one point, or to two or three points—the school, the art school after hours, the basketball team practice after hours.
The channels that have come to dominate the Internet happened naturally because they serve the largest numbers of Internet users. No one is “slave” to anything. Users click voluntarily on what works better and faster for them, and from this common urge to move faster and more efficiently (with less effort) on the web sphere emerges the rived-basin of channels that the Internet has become.
My mistake was in seeing the future of learning as defined by our concept of school, when in fact this has never been the critical nature of learning. The critical nature of learning is the creation and management of knowledge, the exact words I have used to define the system I call the cognitosphere. Knowledge has always been created and flowed through this system, and up to now most of that flow has been through nodes we call schools. That is changing, and the rate of change is increasing. From our point of observation access to knowledge is becoming increasingly democratic, tending toward anarchy, which made me see the design resulting in an amorphous web or net. This is not actually the case: the number of connected points in the system are increasing, but the structure of the system will still evolve in a tree-like design based on the unchangeable critical nature of learning: the flow of ideas.
If you believe schools have a role to play in the future of the learning experience, you care about this. Empirical observation aligns with the demands of the constructal law: learning will have more depth, power, and importance where the flow of ideas is greatest, whether or not that flow is at all related to schools. If you want your school, or schools in general to maintain importance, they have to be at or near the core of the tree-shaped design of the cognitosphere. If they are on the fringes, they will be largely irrelevant. You can’t control the design of the universal system of knowledge; you very much can control where your school, teachers, and students are within that system.