The wicked and Complex in Education: Developing A Transdisciplinary Perspective for Policy Formulation, Implementation and Professional Practice

Aug. 20, 2009

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Volume 35, Issue 3 August 2009 , pages 241 - 256

The concept of 'wicked issues' was originally developed in the field of urban planning. It has been taken up by design educators, architects and public health academics where the means for handling 'wicked issues' has been developed through 'reflective practice'. In the education of teachers, whilst reflective practice has been a significant feature of professional education, the problems to which this has been applied are principally 'tame' ones.

In this article, the authors argue that there has been a lack of crossover between two parallel literatures. The literature on 'wicked issues' does not fully recognize the difficulties with reflective practice and that in education which extols reflective practice, is not aware of the 'wicked' nature of the problems which confront teachers and schools.

The article argues for a fresh understanding of the underlying nature of problems in education so that more appropriate approaches can be devised for their resolution. This is particularly important at a time when the government in England is planning to make teaching a masters level profession, briefly defined by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) benchmark statement as 'Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations'.

The article begins by locating the argument and analysis of 'wicked problems' within the nature of social complexity and chaos.
The second part of the article examines the implications for those involved in policy formation, implementation and service provision.

Given the range of stakeholders in education, the article argues for a trans-disciplinary approach recognizing the multiple perspectives and methodologies leading to the acquisition of reticulist skills and knowledge necessary to boundary cross.

Updated: Nov. 09, 2009