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The Adjacent Possible for Education




Most people have a fixed image in their mind of what a school is and what it is for. When they hear the word educators, they think of teachers – the people who work in schools. However, educators exist in various forms and have many ideas for how and where teaching and learning can and should take place. For example, educators are sports coaches, religious leaders, and music tutors who have an enormous impact on the growth and development of young people.


Edjacent is an organization that is dedicated to bringing educators of all kinds together to create a community committed to the improvement of teaching and learning. We believe that change exists in the adjacent possible and it is from this philosophy that Edjacent derives its name.


The adjacent possible can be defined as “the set of possibilities available to individuals, communities, institutions, organisms, productive processes, etc., at a given point in time during their evolution” (Loreto, 2015). The adjacent possible helps us understand where ideas come from as well as when and why they are successful. This often takes place at the intersection of what is current and what is possible.


According to Björneborn (2020), “the concept of the ‘adjacent possible’ is useful for understanding how new possibilities emerge, and how they are constrained, discovered, explored, actualized, developed, reconfigured, designed, and so on, in an interplay between what is actual and what is possible for specific entities in specific settings.”


Public schools tend to be the kind of places that Gérard Roland (2004) refers to as “slow-moving institutions.” These institutions need to be propelled toward change and improvement from outside forces. The forces that change public education tend to exist outside the education world – for example, political movements, technology, or economic changes.


In Edjacent, we believe that the next ideas for improving education should come from educators themselves, those still working in K-12 schools and others outside of schools. By bringing educators with big ideas together, Edjacent hopes to experiment in the adjacent possible of our existing school systems. We discuss and build ideas that examine the current actualities and what is possible for schools given the current cultural and institutional contexts.


By examining the adjacent possible outside of current institutions, educators are able to interact as professionals without being bound by the expectations of their employers. These educators are able to entertain ideas and discuss them openly, and while they exercise their rights as citizens to question institutions, they also accept the responsibility of professionals who represent their field.


By engaging in open discourse, Edjacent members and designers model the adjacent possible for all our institutions – the possibility of intelligently discussing the issues that matter most, leading to stronger institutions that operate with the wisdom of our most informed stakeholders at the center.


2 Comments


LouAnne Metzger
LouAnne Metzger
Sep 20, 2022

Asking ourselves "what matters most, what does the world need now, and how can I make that possible" is the gift and opportunity Edjacent provides. This community is smart, kind, and humble. They are also passionate about making the institution of school a life enriching place for all. Thank you Meghan for making Edjacent possible!

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Meghan Raftery
Meghan Raftery
Sep 23, 2022
Replying to

YOU and the rest of the collab make it possible, my friend! It is an honor to be your host!

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