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Arrows in time: the misapplication of chaos theory education

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This paper analyzes the role of chaos theory in educational theory and research and asks whether or not the principles of the theory can inform education. We contend that the application of the theory to education is misguided. The complexity of human behaviour is not adequately accounted for in the theory and the original assumptions governing chaos theory were not created to account for human behaviour. In the argument an analogy is used to suggest that the education chaoticists are committing an error similar to the behaviourists who use stimulus-response principles in education. Behaviourism is a misapplication of positivistic philosophy and, likewise, educational chaoticists make an equivalent leap of logic from using chaos theory as a perspective to concluding that chaos theory has all the answers for education. We argue that it is not necessary, nor is it useful, to introduce chaos theory to understand education when we already have Whiteheadian process philosophy and constructivism to account for teaching and learning. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. Groucho Marx
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1997-01-01

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