A Complexity Thinking Take on Thinking in the University

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The Thinking University A Philosophical Examination of Thought and Higher Education, 2018, pp. 137 - 153
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Universities are explicitly sites of thinking: they present myriad ways to think – and to provoke thinking. We address thinking relationally, that is, by doing it under provocation – it is in the doing of thinking that our learning emerges. In this chapter, we develop the significance of this ‘learning thinking by doing thinking’ to which Heidegger, in What is Called Thinking (1954) draws attention, and we do so by setting out a contemporary account of complexity. First, we provide a theorisation of complexity, which comes across from the natural sciences to the social sciences, though in a somewhat different form. Secondly, we put this theorisation to work, in raising some challenges and opportunities for re-thinking thinking for universities, by tackling some of the big issues facing learning in universities. These include excessive individualism, narrow cognitivism and an emaciated notion of learners’ agency, all of which under-acknowledge the formative power of groups, especially for shaping subsequent professional practice broadly conceived. We close with some practical implications for universities’ core work of this complexity thinking ‘take’ on thinking. We advocate ‘thinking relationally’ as central and indeed constitutive of universities. strengths of this internalist view, limited as it may be. The thinking university may  ...
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