ERIC Number: ED408707
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Attending to the Noise: Applying Chaos Theory to School Reform.
Wertheimer, Richard; Zinga, Mario
The Common Knowledge: Pittsburgh (CK:P), a technology-based project, introduced the Internet into all levels of the Pittsburgh Public Schools during 1993-97. This is a case study of the ideology, strategies, and process of the CK:P project describes the project's activities, examines the project in light of school-reform literature, and uses its experience to develop a conceptual framework for discussing such reform efforts. The language of chaos theory is used to describe the behaviors observed in the project and argues that the behaviors exhibited, as a result of implementing the CK:P project, are nonlinear, dynamic, and similar at every entry--individual, school, and district--of magnification. Although the behaviors appear to be random, chaotic, and unpredictable, patterns or points of stable attraction exist within the randomness. The project experience suggests that at least four elements must be present for school reform to occur: (1) the individual or cultural change is irreversible; (2) the change is internalized by the majority; (3) institutional shifts occur to support and sustain the change; and (4) the change conforms to an agreed-upon standard. The value of applying chaos theory to school reform is that it is a holistic process for analyzing complex systems. Through mathematical modeling, chaos theory looks at systems globally while addressing local variables. It attempts to replicate a system's complexity by considering both the existing turbulence and that generated when introducing an agent of change. A glossary and four figures are included. (Contains 19 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997).