On Reinventing Education in the Age of Complexity: A Vygotsky-­inspired Generative Complexity Approach

Ton Jorg


Reinventing education is the ultimate aim of this contribution. The approach taken is a radical new complexity-inspired bottom-up approach which shows complexity as the fount of creativity and innovation. Organizing complexity accordingly may be the foundation for a new complexified vision of education. It all starts with new thinking in complexity about how complexity is actually generated in the real world. Such thinking offers new kinds of complexity like generative and emergent complexity. The approach taken is very much inspired by the genius of Vygotsky, as a visitor from the future. His focus was not only process-oriented, but also very much possibility-oriented. His method was bottom-up, and opened new spaces of the possible, like the Zone of Proximal Development. Yet he was not able to deal with the problem of complexity in his days. He ‘simply’ lacked an adequate causal framework, which showed causation as a generative bottom-up process, to be linked with potential nonlinear effects over time. He could not explain what he saw as possible: the turning points and upheavals of learning and development. In this contribution the focus will be on the link between the new thinking in complexity and the causal, generative nature of complexity in the real world. This link may show the ontological creativity of the entire world in general, and of human learning and development in particular. It may show the power of generativity to unleash this creativity by a new way of theorizing on education. The complexity-inspired theory of development as generative change, as thriving on the generative power of interaction, is fundamental and foundational for this new theorizing.

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