How Cities Work in Real Life – what is

In short, I shall be writing about how cities work in real life, because this is the only way to learn…(p4)

Jacobs identifies a running theme here, one I understand as: Take a perspective of what happens naturally. Meaning that we have to adapt our intentional methods to suit what is, not for what we think will be best or for what suits our methods. Methods work best when they suit what happens naturally, not what the method implies. On p19 she uses the term “strengthening existing functions”, which captures this idea nicely.

In terms of education, this means looking at how we learn, and adapting method to suit this process – Not adapting methods to suits the teacher, the system, or the content. Of course, what is always changes and will change in certain ways because of intentional methods, which will need to adapt to the changing what is, and so on– this is the dynamic system, it takes guidance from the past.

But, there’s always the potential to swing this balance too far, to privilege the what is view to an extent that treats any method as bad, and that treats structure as bad. Structure isn’t unwanted in education, just, it should originate from within, not from the external. I notice this tendency in the Rhizomatic perspective, for example, which seems to want to stay unintentional, at the point of what is – not wanting to choose any method for fear of limiting learning.

Rhiozomagicians don’t want to cast a vote because choosing a candidate somehow eliminates the freedom of democracy.

The point of taking perspective of what is to make better decisions, to decide, to eliminate options. Observing how learning in humans takes place doesn’t mean that we have to ride those mechanisms out (or that they’re inherently ‘good’). It’s just the starting point.


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