A Systems Perspective of Democracy and Education: A Transformational Imperative

M. Jayne Fleener


Starting with the premise and concern that American schools are not preparing students for critical thinking and complex learning, Craig Cunningham provides wisdom and perspectives from Dewey and systems theories to help us rethink education in a democratic culture and better serve the future needs of children and society. Recognizing the power of diversity for systems to adapt and for democracy to function, Cunningham’s goal is to present a new way of thinking about education. Extending his perspectives, this article further situates Dewey’s pragmatism in relation to the chaos and complexity perspectives of William Doll and his collaborators. Rethinking schooling through a curriculum dynamics lens informed by chaos and complexity perspectives offers guidance for the next big shift in public education in a democratic society.


M. Jayne Fleener has over thirty-five years of experience in K-12 and higher education, serving the last 17 years as an academic leader at three different institutions. Her areas of research interest include curriculum inquiry, educational policy, and innovation in education.

Recent Publications:

Fleener, M.J. (2016). Re-Searching methods in educational research: A transdisciplinary approach. In D. Stamovlasis & M. Koopmans. Complex Dynamical Systems in Education: Concepts, methods and applications. Berlin: Springer Publishingpp. 9-21.

Fleener, M.J. (2016). Addressing Educations’ Most Intractable Problems: A Case of Failing Schools. Emergence Complexity & Organization: An International Transdisciplinary Journal of Complex Social Systems. Edition 1. doi: 10.emerg/10.17357.e0b582abc618906c0d995c2557c77bc3.

Bastian, K.C., Fortner, C.K., Chapman, A., Fleener, J., McIntyre, E., & Patriarca, L. (2016). Data sharing to drive the improvement of teacher preparation programs. Teachers College Record, 118(12), 1-29.

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Copyright (c) 2017 M. Jayne Fleener