3D Education

I am finding Charles Koch’s framework for education more and more useful. If nothing else it helps me place some of the drier research on things like dual-coding and spaced retrieval in the context of a richer, more human approach and what Jeremy Barnes calls “Albert Hall Moments”.

I came across Koch’s model listening to him being interviewed by Tim Ferris. He calls it:

three-dimensional education. By that I mean programs that enable students to identify their innate abilities, turn them into valued skills, and apply them in ways that contribute in society.

Charles Koch

As a way of educating the whole child, it feels both practicable and powerful. In terms of back of the envelope categorisation, it has given me a framework for thinking about curriculum, learning, outreach and the like:

  • Identifying innate abilities:
  • Turning them into valued skills
  • Applying them in ways that contribute to society
    • For me this is pastoral education, service, social enterprise and a far better place for wellbeing than simply seeing it as a way to maximise marks or “coping with exam nerves”. Values-based education, books like Martin Seligman’s Flourish, fundraising, outreach and the superstar at my school who in Year 7 sold his own artwork to raise money to install swift boxes in the school grounds all work here.

There is also, I think, grace in the fact there are three dimensions rather than two. By no single dimension outweighing the other two, it helps sidestep the more binary spats online (Research is the only thing that matters vs research-can’t-prove-anything/is overrated has been popping up on my radar a lot recently). It also helps me focus on the context of the discussion a little more tightly.

Perhaps 3 really is the magic number.

(Picture from the Pop Culture Experiment)

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