Learning at the Edge of Chaos
AbstractIn June 2011, in the UK, the government’s ‘White Paper’ on the future of higher education in England was published (BIS, 2011). At its heart is a paradigm shift from a largely publicly funded system to a privately funded system via significant increases in student fees. So, what might we do, in higher education, in our attempts to negotiate our way through what many find to be an unfamiliar, discomforting, increasingly complex landscape? This paper argues that one of the things we might usefully do is to strive to understand the complex and often chaotic nature of what confronts us. In their most recent annual survey of 1500 CEOs in 60 countries, IBM (2010) found a significant change in what those CEOs considered to be the greatest challenges and the qualities they valued most highly. For the first time, those CEOs now saw dealing with and managing complexity as their greatest challenge, and they identified three factors that might provide them with the best opportunity to capitalise on that complexity: creativity, operational dexterity and reinventing customer relationships or ‘developing customer intimacy’. However, one is unlikely to see ‘developing student intimacy’ in any of our institutional mission statements.
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