At Aroundsquare, we're interested in the idea of platforms--structures on which incredible things can be done. In one way or another, all of our activities are related to establishing these kinds of platforms, whether physical or conceptual. In a recent conversation with another educator and toy developer, he remarked about the Goodwood Deconstruction Blocks, "We really like the interaction between the pieces and the "structured complexity" that is involved to create something of significance." This structure is the platform I am referring to. It is the three dimensional grammar which makes the toy interesting. Without rules, there is no game. The rules are what make the fun possible.
In a similar way, our research in the education sector is focused on structures. But rather than physical objects, this research is exploring a kind of conceptual grammar. We're looking at the ways in which culture is learned in schools. In the process, we're working to better understand the tacit structures that are permeate the school setting. These structures contribute powerfully to socialization, and our objective is to figure out how they can be reoriented to support the achievement of social development goals related to sustainability, democratization, and social justice
Our broader development consulting work is principally in the areas of performance measurement, results monitoring, and program evaluation. In this work, we develop and apply structures in the form of results frameworks--frameworks which provide scaffolding for the design and implementation of programs, as well as the basis for the accountability of those implementing them.
Just like language, these tools--physical and conceptual--are platforms by which we can express or achieve something of significance. Even Aroundsquare's visual artwork reflects these principles, through the application of simple structures for the creation of something meaningful. There is very little in this world which is built on nothing. Human civilization provides ample evidence of this. It also provides ample evidence that we'd be well advised to pay close attention to the tacit structures around us, and the subtle, yet powerful ways in which they direct our development. This is an important part of Aroundsquare's mission. It's why we're a B Corporation, and it's why we appreciate the B Labs Impact Assessment tool so much. These structures are foundations.
Our latest tool, Monkey Knuckles, is very simple. It's two sliding balls on a string, with two beads at either end, and a couple of fancy knots. This simplicity creates a kind of limitation, a constraint. But with this constraint comes a kind of freedom. There are things that can be done and can't be done. There are things which are encouraged and discourage, simply by the structure of the toy. But at the same time, there is no right way or wrong way to play with it. It's structure as freedom, and we can't wait to see where it leads.