Teaching As Chaos Moseley, Bryan and Daniel Dustin.

College Teaching Summer 2008 140-142 General: More specific manifestations of chaos in academia; mentoring 140 dichotomy of teaching as art of science is false “Consequently, the key to better understanding the teaching-learning process lies not in selecting between these two incomplete views of higher education, but rather in providing a metaphor that incorporates the essence of both within a more nuanced perspective on the art and science of teaching.” discussion on the value of metaphor in understanding overwhlemingly complex systems; cites Lakoff and Nunez 2000 “One of the biggest problems professors have in gauging their own teaching effectiveness lies in differentiating between these metaphors of excellence, accountability, objectivity and personal connection that make learning possible. We argue that chaos theory provides the metaphor of choice, because it offers a better way for professors to understand their teaching effectiveness without dismissing the inherent complexity of teaching or learning. Chaos theory suggests that the teaching-learning process is inherently fluid with unpredictable results occurring along the way” (Moseley and Dustin140-141). 141 systems are complex, and order emerges, but when and how the order emerges is not predictable “In the context of university classrooms, the chaos metaphor is a way of understanding the volumes of information we are faced with in our courses with so many individuals, so many complicated interactions, and so many differences in background, knowledge, and experience.” “The paradox of learning is that a student may not realize the utility of an idea until she or e fully understands the idea. This may take years with highly complex content that can require experiences far beyond the score of a single course to provide the conceptual foundation for understanding.” 142 Mentorship may be a means to deal with issues raised by the chaos of learning Ss rarely look for/at underlying concepts of problems Using chaos as metaphor for teaching:

keeps study of learning in scientific realm suggest small difference in teachers, learners, place, etc. can create large differences in learning third, study of recursive patterns may reveal insights in interactions between Ss an Ts fourth, if this chaos really exists, what is the meaningful unit of analysis “Chaos theory teaches us that if patterns of learning are recursive, then the same issues must play out at differing levels of importance to the class. Smaller to larger thoughts develop into comments, and comments are then applied to exercises that in turn are built into more in-depth projects. A misconception or wonderful insight that exists at one level of specificity is likely to appear at another level and another, leading to a much larger misconception or wonderful insight.”