Balancing on the "edge of chaos": Teaching complexity during a global pandemic

Pam Joseph

Abstract


The global Covid-19 pandemic’s emergence over the first months of 2020 led to a rapid, unexpected transition from on-campus to remote online learning for many Higher Education educators and students. In this article, I reflect on my experience of teaching throughout this time, as illustrated by a second-year Bachelor of Social Work unit of study that explored theories of human development. The reflection is framed through the lens of complexity theory. It focuses on three theoretical concepts (uncertainty, interconnectedness, and co-evolution) and their relevance to the context, content and process of teaching and learning throughout this semester.

The reflection demonstrates complexity theory’s utility as an explanatory framework with which to make sense of the multi-faceted experiences of both teaching and learning in a rapidly-changing context. Further, it highlights both value and limitations in drawing on this theoretical perspective, and recommends that complexity theory be complemented with critical theoretical frameworks as a means of grappling with the complex, interrelated and unpredictable social world and the lives of those who live in it.

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References


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Social Work & Policy Studies: Social Justice, Practice and Theory

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