Tag Archives: chaos-the-metaphor


A long excerpt from a book-length Ph.D. dissertation evokes the scope of Robert Stuart Houghton’s theorizing about education. A Chaotic Paradigm: An Alternative World View of the Foundations of Educational Inquiry. It’s gist is this: there is an implicit potential able to emerge and realize substantial effects were learning to be concerned with the actual nature of an ‘implicitly able’ human system. This is my language, (one can tell, it’s oblique!) and way of highlighting the idea that interesting innovations are products of unstability and discontinuity.

Certain curriculum scholars have also identified and discussed the value of these concepts of holism and self-organization (Doll, 1986; Romberg, 1984; Romberg et al, 1987; Sawada and Caley, 1985) for building a new educational paradigm. These scholars in turn were following the tracks laid out by general system theorists (Ackoff, 1974; Bertalanffy, 1968) and later the nonlinear system theory of Prigogine (1977, 1980, 1984).

They have used the concepts of self-organizationist writers like Prigogine in a variety of ways. They make their points about holism and self-organization clearly and in detail. However, the concept of unpredictability receives much less explanation and emphasis. Just how this unpredictability comes about is not clear and curious linkages indicate a need for further thought. For example, integrating holism and self-organization with a multi-causal model that is to be judged by its “predictive power” (Romberg et al, 1987) takes a stand that chaos theory would open to question.

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