How you can use chaos and complexity theories in the classroom
Lee Chazen, M.A.
- Turn the class into an open environment with broad units of study.
- Use simple rules, but set high expectations.
- Act like a facilitator by encouraging self-organization.
- Encircle the “complex system,” sending down occasional messages and reminders, while keeping broad parameters in place.
- Set the tone for creativity, expectations and behavior early on in the semester.
- These will serve as the broad parameters to guide creativity and scholarship.
- Get students out of rows and into random arrangements where they will encounter divergent ideas and opinions.
- Guide students to a middle ground or “edge of chaos,” where they can look for new discoveries and make potential breakthroughs.
- 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.
- Work on building a new ethic of camaraderie, cooperation and collegiality.
- Create a “hub” in your class or at your school, that serves as a meeting place where collaboration and brainstorming can take place.
For the research supporting these ideas, click here.
Note: originally published on June 1, 2005. Revised and edited on April 24, 2015