Monday, October 18, 2021

Creating Spaces for Graduate Learners to Emergently Design Curriculum Inspired by Complex Systems



Lens of Time: Secrets of Schooling, Biographic, 2017

How do we come to know and understand more about ourselves as part of the emergence of the universe in becoming? Inspired by the characteristics of The Living Universe (Elgin, 2011), as part of Living Systems (Capra & Luisi, 2014), and nurtured by insights from the dynamics of complex adaptive systems and complex emergence, complexity-informed teaching and learning open up fresh perspectives and approaches.

In emergentist approaches, the process of teaching and learning itself becomes centered as a part of the curriculum. Go meta! This term, that means in an eight-week graduate course, I am designing two of the weeks of the curriculum, and also supporting the students as co-designers developing five weeks of the curriculum. We all engage in synthesis in the last week. 

There are river banks to this river of emergent curriculum. These river banks in this case are guidelines for mini-syllabus development and materials curation. Many of these students are doctoral education students, so the approach of engaging in co-designing the curriculum is particularly relevant. We have core texts and readers that students select some chapters from to weave into their particular approaches. They also innovate catalytic experiential activities to warm up the Zoom class sessions. 

 A key approach is that in order to facilitate complex emergence, rather than focusing on linear outcomes that rely on cause-effect and reductive logics, complexity and systems-informed educators CREATE CONDITIONS. How do we create conditions for transformation and growth?

Two grounded resources come to mind for those interested in this approach:

  • Crowell and Reid-Marr's luscious, narrative-based descriptions in Emergent Teaching: A Path of Creativity, Significance, and Transformation (2013)
  • and Marilyn Taylor's Emergent Learning for Wisdom (2011).

Two research-based volumes that support this kind of approach include Bill Doll & Jayne Fleener et al's Chaos, Complexity, Curriculum, and Culture: A Conversation, and Mark Mason's edited collection on Complexity Theory and the Philosophy of Education (2009). 

The journey begins...

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