Friday, April 24, 2015

Applying Chaos Theory to the classroom

The Complex Adaptive Theory of Education
How you can use chaos and complexity theories in the classroom

Lee Chazen, M.A.


  1. Turn the class into an open environment with broad units of study.

  2. Use simple rules, but set high expectations.

  3. Act like a facilitator by encouraging self-organization.

  4.  Encircle the “complex system,” sending down occasional messages and reminders, while keeping broad parameters in place.

  5. Set the tone for creativity, expectations and behavior early on in the semester.

  6. These will serve as the broad parameters to guide creativity and scholarship.

  7. Get students out of rows and into random arrangements where they will encounter divergent ideas and opinions.

  8. Guide students to a middle ground or “edge of chaos,” where they can look for new discoveries and make potential breakthroughs.

  9. Work with colleagues to rid the school of rigid, black and white thinking where ideas of perfection or failure and winners and losers exist. Cross any and all imaginary pre-established lines to work with people from all departments.

  10. Work on building a new ethic of camaraderie, cooperation and collegiality.

  11. Create a “hub” in your class or at your school, that serves as a meeting place where collaboration and brainstorming can take place.

For information on how I can help your school, company or organization please contact me at lee@hikestorming.com

For the research supporting these ideas, click here.

Note: originally published on June 1, 2005. Revised and edited on April 24, 2015
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