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'Chaos Theory' Applied to the Classroom

Posted Jul 06 2010 9:42am
Being a math teacher this hypothesis really calls my attention. Viplav Baxi in one of his Meanderings sets this question: "The point that needs to be explored is whether learning is linear, deterministic and predictable or is it inherently non-linear, dynamic and unpredictable."

Baxi proposes his hypothesis based on JoAnn Trygestad's work, Chaos in the Classroom, where the expert discusses the possible impact of Chaos Theory on classroom learning and explores the relationship between chaotic systems and learning.

The abstract of Trygestad developments are posted on ERIC. Chaos in the Classroom: An Application of Chaos Theory:

A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource. A review of studies on chaos theory suggests that some elements of the theory (systems, fractals, initial effects, and bifurcations) may be applied to classroom learning. Chaos theory considers learning holistic, constructive, and dynamic. Some researchers suggest that applying chaos theory to the classroom enhances learning by reinforcing systemic approaches to human interactions, encouraging cultural diversity as beneficial, and reaffirming theoretical notions of intelligence as dynamically multidimensional without linear progression. Other researchers believe that chaos theory cannot be applied to human learning systems; instead many of these researchers suggest social constructivism as a more appropriate model. The paper demonstrates applications of chaos theory using systems, fractals, initial effects, and bifurcations. A final section discusses models of learning, highlighting Piagetian theory and theoretical models. The paper concludes that more important than a model is the development of a perspective encompassing both the theory and its applications, and that researchers should explore the application of chaos theory to classroom learning before trying to construct a satisfactory mode


For those who has a basic understanding of the chaos philosophy, "chaotic systems may appear random and dynamically changing, but still exhibit an underlying pattern or order," concludes Baxi.

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