Complexity theory and learning: Less radical than it seems?

Educational Philosophy and Theory 56 (5):439-447 (2024)
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In a spirit of collegial support, this paper argues that Beckett and Hager’s theoretical justification and empirical exemplifications do not do full justice to the complexity of group or team learning. We firstly reaffirm our support for the theoretical argument Becket and Hager make, though expressing some reservations about Complexity Theory, to explain the taken-for-granted assumptions that learning by an individual is the paradigm case of learning and that context plays a minimal role in this process. Drawing on our joint and separate work, we demonstrate that Becket and Hager’s argument is less radical than it may initially seem because it is predicated on: (i) cognitive-bounded rather than “distributed” or “extended” conception of mind; (ii) material rather than a “immaterial” conception of activity; and (iii) co-present rather than a “fractional” or “connective” conception of ontology. Despite making this critique, we conclude by making the case that we are adding further substance to Becket and Hager’s overarching argument and, in doing so, encouraging them to be more radical about how they conceptualise the complexity of learning.



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Systems beings: Educating for a complex world.Derek Gladwin & Naoko Ellis - 2024 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 56 (7):683-695.

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Cognition in the Wild.Edwin Hutchins - 1998 - Mind 107 (426):486-492.
The cultural ecosystem of human cognition.Edwin Hutchins - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (1):1-16.
Knowing and the Known.John Dewey & Arthur F. Bentley - 1952 - Philosophy 27 (102):263-265.
Cognition in the Wild.Edward Hutchins - 1995 - Critica 27 (81):101-105.

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