Although the growth of complexity during evolution seems obvious to most observers, it has recently been questioned whether such increase objectively exists. The present paper tries to clarify the issue by analysing the concept of complexity as a combination of variety and dependency. It is argued that variation and selection automatically produce differentiation (variety) and integration (dependency), for living as well as non-living systems. Structural complexification is produced by spatial differentiation and the selection of fit linkages between components. Functional complexification follows from the need to increase the variety of actions in order to cope with more diverse environmental perturbations, and the need to integrate actions into higher-order complexes in order to minimize the difficulty of decision-making. Both processes produce a hierarchy of nested supersystems or metasystems, and tend to be self-reinforcing. Though simplicity is a selective factor, it does not tend to arrest or reverse overall complexification. Increase in the absolute components of fitness, which is associated with complexification, defines a preferred direction for evolution, although the process remains wholly unpredictable.
There is now a developed and extensive literature on the implications of the ‘complexity frame of reference’ for education in general and pedagogy in particular. This includes a wide range of interesting contributions which consider how complexity can inform, inter alia, research on educational systems and theories of learning, as well as work dealing with specific pedagogical domains including physical education, clinical education and in particular the learning of clinical teams, and learning in relation to systems engineering. This material has contributed considerably to my thinking about the subject matter of this essay which is not the implications of complexity for pedagogy but rather how we might develop a pedagogy OF complexity and, more specifically, a pedagogy of what Morin has called ‘general’ (as opposed to ‘restricted’) complexity. In other words how should we teach the complexity frame of reference to students at all appropriate educational levels?
The article aims at explicating the emergence of human interactional sense‐making process within educational leadership as a complex system. The kind of leadership is understood as a holistic entity called collaborative leadership. There, sense‐making emerges across interdependent domains, called attributes of collaborative leadership. The attributes give rise to the complex system. They are suggested to be the very agents, i.e. both the source and the outcome of the synergetic sense‐making process. Hence, the agents are not the single persons involved who, however, supply the collective attributes that are modified through human interaction in a holistic way. For studying the emergence process in reality, a long‐term development process within an educational executive team was exploited. The team aimed at co‐creating novel leadership thinking and working practices for its new unit after a merger of separated schools. The emergent sense‐making process was examined through such agent‐attributes that were identified as attractors within the complex system. Moreover, it is argued that illuminating the complex system of collaborative leadership, this can help other leadership teams to better understand their own sense‐making processes in the increasingly complex settings of today.
Rhizoanalysis is introduced here as a way of processing through an assemblage involving research methodology, data generation and analytical possibilities entwined within. In concert, rhizomethodology is presented as a way of working (with) data, complexly; a way of putting the Deleuzo‐Guattarian philosophical imaginary of rhizome to work. With/in/alongside this rhizomethodological approach, which I employed in my doctoral thesis, rhizoanalysis (as both process and product) is concurrent, becoming the inquiry of the research, (e)merging through the whole research process. In this everything is always already happening – dynamic, changing, in flux – disrupting any (mis)conception of rhizoanalysis as a specifically definable process with distinct and reproducible outcomes. Rather, there is an ongoing intermingling of data, methodology and analysis enmeshed with theorising the literature and practicing the theory, in which each becomes the/an/other. In this article I (re)turn to parts of the never ending slip‐sliding (ad)venture of my doctoral research.
The Reggio Emilia perspective shifts the focus of the classroom away from the teacher and onto the students, viewing children as capable, self‐reliant, intelligent, curious, and creative. This approach also treats the classroom as the ‘third teacher’, encouraging teachers to take a great deal of care in the creation and setup of the environment of the classroom and the materials that are introduced. Finally, this approach positions the teacher as a researcher, documenting the children’s relationships and interactions with people, ideas and materials in the classroom.
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