Complexity theory is one of the ways we can 'unlearn' Shakespeare education.
Watch project member Claire Hansen speak on complexity theory in the classroom (Shakespeare FuturEd Conference, 2019).
What is complexity theory?
A few decades ago, it was still being described as the ‘new paradigm’ and an ‘emerging worldview.’ Now virtually all research in the physical sciences is implicitly complexivist – and one would be hard pressed to find research in the social sciences and humanities that is not deeply committed to such notions as co-participations, complex entanglements, decentralised structures, co-adaptive dynamics, self-determination, and non-linear unfoldings.(Brent Davis and Dennis Sumara, "Fitting Teacher Education in/to/for an Increasingly Complex World," Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education 9, no. 1, 2012: 30.)
- Davis, Brent, and Dennis Sumara. Complexity and Education: Inquiries into Learning, Teaching, and Research. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006.
- Davis, Brent, Dennis Sumara, and Rebecca Luce-Kapler. Engaging Minds: Learning and Teaching in a Complex World. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000.
- Doll, William E., M.J. Fleener., D. Trueit, and J. St. Julien, eds. Chaos, Complexity, Curriculum and Culture. New York: Lang, 2005.
- Mason, Mark, ed. Complexity Theory and the Philosophy of Education. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.
- Morrison, Keith. School Leadership and Complexity Theory. London: Routledge, 2002.
- Osberg, Deborah, and Gert Biesta, eds. Complexity Theory and the Politics of Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2010.
Get involved with complexity theory
This area of research is still relatively new and very much in development. It is especially new within the humanities and literary studies more specifically. We would love to hear your thoughts on how complexity theory may be useful, challenging, or disruptive.
- The challenges of implementing complexivist approaches or complexity thinking in education
- How complexity resonates with Shakespeare
- How to deal with the unpredictable, emergent, the disruptive and the unexpected in teaching and learning environments
- Maintaining a balance of order and disorder
- How a system produces emergence through interactions with various contexts (local environmental contexts, broader cultural and social contexts, a student's own contexts and networks)
- Using complexity theory with students
If you'd like to join the discussion on complexity theory and share your thoughts and experiences, become a part of the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.
How to cite this essay: Claire Hansen, 'Complexity Theory,' Shakespeare Reloaded. http://www.shakespearereloaded.edu.au. 2014.