Relationship Hypotheses Generator


An Aid to Speculation


Above is a version of the "Master Conceptual Framework" described in "An Any-Century Curriculum."

The Generator allows individual elements of that framework to be juxtaposed in myriad ways to facilitate speculation about their possible relationship. The arrow in the center means "is related to" or "this may change that."

For example: In a window on the left of the device may appear the concept "Setting: Climate." In the window on the right of the device may appear the concept "Actors: Physiological characteristics." The hypothesis-generating question becomes, "Are climate and physiological characteristics related?"

The elements in each window can be changed by clicking on the scroll bars. "Climate" may be left in place, and "physiological characteristics" replaced with "art" or "patterns for play" to trigger speculation about possible relationships.

Or "physiological characteristics" may be left in place and "climate" replaced with concepts such as "tools" or "waste," again to trigger the generating of hypotheses about possible relationships. There are about 60 concepts in each of the two windows. About 3,500 combinations are therefore possible. Some of these relationships will be simple and obvious, even silly. Some will be so complex, subtle, or indirect it will seem that they couldn't possibly relate.

If the terms appearing in the two windows were drawn from the vertical columns #5 and beyond on the Master Conceptual Framework (e.g. "rainfall" instead of "climate," or "childhood games" instead of "patterns for play,"), the lower levels of abstraction would make the task of generating hypotheses about possible relationships much easier. It would also expand the number of potential relationships to near infinity. The Master Conceptual Framework is on Pages 6 and 10 of "An Any-Century Curriculum."

The device will serve its purpose if it:

  • Suggests relationships that demand the use of complex thought processes
  • Helps students see that relationship exploration is the basic learning task
  • Displays the holistic, systemic nature of knowledge
  • Dispels the simplistic notion of "covering the content"
  • Reinforces our "natural" way of segmenting and organizing knowledge