I've been really enjoying people's threads about their dream X-men teams, and which characters people think should be leading the X-men. With that in mind, I've been trying to work my opinions on the matter out for myself. Thinking in terms of major conceptual themes, character relationships, history, leadership, function/role, sustainable cast size, and what, as well as how many, X-men books I would currently be interested in seeing.
I haven't included things like X-force and X-factor because they seem like they should be, by their nature, conceptually far enough away from the key concepts of the X-men to warrant their own existence as distinct alternatives. I also haven't included characters who have moved on to the Avengers (Havoc, Rogue, Cannonball, and Sunspot), because I feel that the X-men have more than enough good characters to go around, and it does seem only natural that some of them would join the Avengers in a world where most super-powered people are mutants (although I do like that characters like Wolverine and Beast play at least minor roles in both).
This is Storm's team, based out of Wolverine's school. These are the X-men that the Avengers like. These are the X-men who dare to live under public scrutiny to justify their ideals. These are the characters who have incorporated Xavier's dream into their own.
the Uncanny X-men
This is Cyclops' team, based out of Emma's school. These are the X-men the world hates and fears. These are the X-men who live underground as outlaws to protect each other from the injustices of a cruel and unfair world. With respect and admiration for the work of Xavier, these are the characters who stand for mutant rights.
the Next X-men
This is Kitty's team, based out of Wolverine's school. These are the next generation of X-men who fight both to protect their school and for the right to go on more field trips.
the Astonishing X-men
For the threats that are too important for any faction of X-men to ignore, a sometimes uneasy alliance must be maintained between the various leaders of the mutant world. In the service of the greatest threats to mutants and the world, the world has the Astonishing X-men.