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ERIC Number: ED414142
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Nov
Pages: 7
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Facilitating and Learning at the Edge of Chaos: Expanding the Context of Experiential Education.
Oekerman, Carl
Significant recent discoveries within a number of scientific disciplines, collectively referred to as the science of complexity, are creating a major shift in how human beings understand the complex, adaptive systems that make up the world. A complex adaptive system consists of networks of large numbers of agents that interact with each other and with their environment according to a set of rules. This set of rules contains two subsystems: a dominant, or legitimate, subsystem that encompasses the system's primary task, and a recessive, or shadow, subsystem that operates outside of the system's primary task, providing the arena for play, exploration of new behaviors, and creativity. The shadow subsystem also seeks to undermine or modify the dominant subsystem through change. These two subsystems coexist in dynamic tension, and when the system is operating in the narrow zone between order and chaos, called a phase transition, or "the edge of chaos," it is operating at its highest level of functioning. Here is where the system creates space for novelty, where the greatest information processing takes place, where risks are taken and new behavior is tried out. Five factors that determine whether a system can move into the edge of chaos are identified. Practitioners of experiential education, working with and within complex human systems, already intuitively understand many aspects of complex system dynamics, and are ideally suited to use their skills in broader applications. Organizations and institutions shifting to the new paradigm of complex systems will operate from a conceptual framework with which experiential educators are already skilled. Includes suggestions for further reading. (Author/TD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A