Let’s reinvent education

This is a huge subject and my thinking is incomplete and unfinished 😉 I hope the following gives a taste of what I am muttering about! The following are a few of my scattered thoughts from a journey I have been on!

The key is around Spinoza – everything is connected.  If anyone wants some jargon, try: “Humboldtian”

I formally propose the reintroduction of commonplacing!

When children read something, maybe they should write down at the same time their favourite phrases, describe smells, colours, tastes, textures and feelings, draw pictures about it. .. maybe take photos.

This may be done roughly and later transferred to an exercise book with page numbers or work directly in the book. At the front of the book, they keep an index of subjects and they put all the page nos under each subject.

It is critically important at this stage that it is multi-sensory, reading, writing drawing, colour, smell texture – not flat digital.

This means they slowly build up an encyclopaedia of their interests 🙂 with cross-references to where other stuff is. Reading and writing are treated as digesting, chewing.

The commonplace is teeth and stomach and digestion for thoughts, ideas and dreams!

A couple of years ago we were on a coach holiday in the Eastern US. Whilst in an Appalachian national park, the coach got stuck in a traffic jam. Why?

A baby bear was at the top of a tall tree hanging upside down, as you do!

I think the purpose of edumacation is about teaching the tricks we have learnt about enabling a good life. I think we have forgotten the well-tried and tested ways over millennia and throughout the planet to do this, and have got stuck in subjects and skills, losing how it all relates, how to bring together the whole.

This needs to be part of a continual process of dialogue, of relationship. Umberto Eco discusses this in Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages.  I do tai chi, and being thick, only slowly realise tai chi is precisely about this.

I have collected here some thoughts I have found about commonplacing, and have recently come across two authors who are critically important.


and here


This is an example of what I am muttering about


I think one of there most important things anyone can do is teach how to write things down and draw them. What commonplacing is, is a way of structuring writing and drawings, to enable children to put things together as they want to, not necessarily alphabetically or numerically or date – they will work out where to put things and may come up with very interesting patterns.  Da Vinci did this, and Sir Richard Burton did – he categorised according to sounds.


The point is to continually find patterns and rhythms. Movement and dance are critical here, this is partly why I think cycling is so important, it brings together our bodies, our minds and a human scale machine.

The specialisms we have, maths, art, music, surgery …. are all built on foundations of bringing together our minds bodies senses in enjoyable ways 🙂

Commonplacing is a centuries-old technique to do this that has been forgotten!  Maybe we do not need to pour knowledge into children in schools, there are other ways:-)

I know I am crazy! 🙂


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