Complexity theory: Supporting curriculum and pedagogy developments in Scottish Physical Education

Year: 2008

Author: Jess, Mike, Atencio, Matthew, Thorburn, Malcolm

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper describes how complexity theory principles relating to self-emergence and connectivity have been employed to inform our recent developmental work in Scottish physical education. We suggest that these complexity principles have purchase in postmodern times characterised by uncertainty, multiplicity, and contradiction (Fernandez-Balboa, 1997). We cite examples from the development and delivery of a Developmental Physical Education Programme in Scotland to assert that complex learning principles (Light, 2008; Morrison, 2008) can be employed to structure curriculum and pedagogy endeavours. These examples from practice highlight the ways in which a complexity-oriented learning approach provides a challenge to hierarchical, reductionist, and behaviourist notions of learning which have long held a strong foothold in the field of physical education (Light, 2008). At the same time, we pay attention to critical questions which have been raised regarding the practicality of structuring educational practice with emerging theories such as complexity theory (Davis & Sumara, 2006).