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Visualising education – first thoughts on uses of imagery

In this vlog I float some questions about the way we visualise certain concepts and processes in education.

1. Why do we think of one type of education as ‘broad’ and another as ‘deep‘? Why does this lead to different value judgements about these types of education?

2. What does the image of a ‘cutting edge‘ really signify? Does it imply something about progress? Does it limit the number of people we can ever expect to work at the frontiers of knowledge?

3. In what ways can we describe the difference between ‘design for learning’ and ’emergent outcomes’? Are there ways to visualise these two approaches which help us see the value in both?

Another pair of contrasting images is referred to elsewhere in this blog, viz ‘the web of knowledge’ vs ‘the tree of knowledge’. These sorts of visualisations have, I think, close connections with breadth vs depth visualisations, but with the added complexity that we are here also concerned about how various parts of knowledge are connected.

UPDATE 18 July 2012. Re Design vs Emergent Outcomes. I think what I am searching to say here is that too much design, whatever its merits, takes away the exploratory dimension of education. That is a serious flaw. We have largely lost the notion that to thrill in something, to really explore, is often not to know exactly where you are going. This is what the phrase ’emergent outcomes’ is perhaps trying to capture in an age where bureaucracy in education dominates and trust in educators to lead in these explorations has all but gone. But don’t most of us acknowledge that exploring something for ourselves or with friends is always more fun and more exciting than the painstakingly mapped-out guided tour?


Facer, Keri

2011    Learning Futures; Routledge: London and New York.

Main photo under a CC licence from viegas’ photostream

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