A New Science Look at Negotiating Curriculum and Classrooms

Perrin Blackman

Abstract


Chaos and complexity theories provide a new perspective on curriculum design and application, especially in the area of Teaching English as a Second Language. Since language learning is a fluid process, teachers need to be able to react in real time to factors beyond their control. Rather than seeing these factors as interruptions to a closed system, teachers can make decisions about what to focus on and what to gloss over, when to pick up the pace and when to slow down, finding a natural rhythm that helps to create a symbiotic relationship with the students, the classroom and the university or school structure. Time and identity figure largely in the ESL classroom, and as each semester progresses, an essential layering process occurs and narrative structures are built. As language skills develop and as the classroom takes form, personalities are defined and redefined not only for the students but for the class as a whole. This paper attempts to make new science theories more accessible to ESL teachers with the hope that they can describe and discover ways to allow for necessary classroom flexibility while also respecting conventional curriculum standards and outcomes.

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