Chapter 3, Decentralized Networks of Learning as Biomimicry | Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. | 12 Min Read

May 12, 2022

I ended the previous chapter with a teaser, one that I promised in this installment to explore: Can we really have learner-centered and competency-based education in our current education system? The thing is, this might be the wrong question to ask because it suggests that both learner-centered and competency-based education are final destinations. Both are steps in the right direction (away from traditional instruction), but if we’re not careful, we might forget that better is the enemy of best. I’ll focus briefly on the question’s three elements, one by one while keeping an eye on the bigger picture.

The current education system is for my purposes the one we typically think of, the one created from Cartesian-Newtonian models. It values things like age-related standards, university readiness, fixed curricula delivered through structured teaching, and individual achievement using external metrics. There are, of course, variations within the system. Some schools have innovated by integrating SEL or PBL programs as alternate means of achieving their goals. These programs often still have college in mind and a set of content to deliver. They’re not quite free of the demands of the traditional system, but they have acted to mitigate…

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Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. is the co-founder of Coconut Thinking, an advisory that supports schools and learning organizations to co-create, co-develop, co-stress test, and co-implement ideas that nurture the conditions for emergent learning. Benjamin is also the Head of Upper School at Green School, Bali. He was previously the Whole School Leader of Learning and Teaching at Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Thailand. He was the Academic Coordinator at Misk Schools, one of the most prestigious and high-profile school in the kingdom. In 2018-2019, he was also the Head of Upper Primary and Middle School at Misk. Prior to this, he was Vice-Principal of the Middle School and High School at the Harbour School in Hong Kong. He holds a Ph.D. in History, an MSc in Education, an MBA, an MA in International Relations, and a BA in International Affairs. Benjamin was born and grew up in Paris, France. He moved to the U.S. when he was 15 and spent 11 years there in different cities before living in the U.K., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and now Bali, Indonesia. He started his career in consulting for Internet start-ups in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, working with people whose ambitions were no less than to change the world. This experience had a profound effect on Benjamin's outlook on education, innovation, and entrepreneurship.