Education far from equilibrium: chaos philosophy and the quest for complexity in education

It would be futile, John Dewey argued in 1902, to think that we have to choose between child-centered, progressive education and traditional, subject-matter-oriented approaches. Calling for adaptivity, he stressed that we need the act of balancing the one with the other. The tendency in current educational policy to lean in favor of traditional, disciplinary modes of control appears to lose sight of this need. The aim of this paper is to reconnect to the task of maintaining a balance between educational freedom and structure, using a variety of theoretical resources such as complexity science, and the philosophies of Deleuze and Guattari, Schiller, and Nietzsche. Based on these resources, the authors also discuss Steiner Waldorf education as an example of how educational practice may approach, and integrate the significance of chaos in the form of a “virtual pedagogy”.

Article first published in “Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education”, V. 9 (2012), n. 2, pp. 1-14. Reprinted with permission.

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