SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • complexity theory;
  • self-organization;
  • emergence;
  • educational philosophy

Abstract

Complexity theory challenges educational philosophy to reconsider accepted paradigms of teaching, learning and educational research. However, though attractive, not least because of its critique of positivism, its affinity to Dewey and Habermas, and its arguments for openness, diversity, relationships, agency and creativity, the theory is not without its difficulties. These are seen to lie in terms of complexity theory's nature, status, methodology, utility and contribution to the philosophy of education, being a descriptive theory that is easily misunderstood as a prescriptive theory, silent on key issues of values and ethics that educational philosophy should embrace, of questionable internal consistency, and of limited ‘added value’ in educational philosophy. The paper sets out key tenets of complexity theory and argues that, though it is useful for educational philosophy, it requires new conceptual tools and mind-sets to comprehend fully its significance.