Not by breadth alone: Imagining a Self-Organized Classroom

Inna Semetsky


This paper uses complexity theory as a means towards clarifying some of Gilles Deleuze’s conceptualisations in communication and the philosophy of language. His neologisms and post-structuralist tropes are often complicated and appear to be merely metaphorical. However their meanings may be clarified and enriched provided they are grounded in the science of complexity and self-organising dynamics. Reconceptualizing communication in a manner consistent with Deleuze’s philosophy enriches our understanding of the complexity involved in the process of learning and the whole of educational experience. The paper explores education as “becoming,” that is, a process of growth and becoming-other enabled by creative communication. While the mathematics of complexity is beyond the scope of this paper, some of its conjunctions with Deleuze’s philosophy will be examined for the purpose of addressing such problematic areas in education as, for example, specialisation and the breadth of curriculum. Finally, the paper moves to a practical level so as to construct an image of a (self-organised) classroom. Self-organising dynamics are posited as consistent with what Noddings (1993) called an excellent system of education. Education proceeds without any reference to an external aim. Rather, the “aim” is implicit in the experiential process of self-organisation and, as such, is conducive to students’ learning, creation of meanings, and eliciting broad curricula.

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