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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A teacher's personal journey : my emergent understanding about honouring complexities in a math classroom Lau, Sharon W.Y.


New insights from complexity theory inform us of a universe with embedded systems of unpredictability and non-linearity. Amidst the chaos sits the potential where individual agents are able to coalesce to a self-organizing and self-adapted collective. Many systems such as a flock of birds, an ant colony, and the stock market have been identified as representing complex phenomena, but more await to be explored, and among those is teaching and learning. Complexity is embedded throughout the educational system - in our students, our classrooms, teaching practices, learning process, mathematics and in the interrelationships between all theses. To treat education as a dynamic and adaptive system, educators need to walk a fine balance of top-down and bottom-up governance, of randomness and structure, and of diversity and redundancy. When these are embraced, I believe that each learning experience and each classroom setting will be a unique system unlike any other; each will emerge in an unpredictable course defined by students and teachers as experience unfold within the system. In this study, I will attempt to do just this and to explore the challenges, struggles, conflicts and successes of this environment. I am capturing a journey of living and learning, an experience that is not the result of any "particular methods, texts or activities", but from a genuine "understanding of human existence and cognition" (Davis, Sumara and Kieren, 1996, p 166).

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