The Matrix in the Physics classroom: Complexity and the hidden curriculum.

David Brookes

Assistant Professor, Physics Department
Florida International University

Education is a true complex dynamical system. On the one hand it is stubbornly stable, resistant to all efforts to change it. On the other hand, it can be fundamentally altered by the simplest unconscious gestures and actions. The glue that binds an educational system together is the shared epistemic beliefs of those engaged in the enterprise. I want to present an argument that epistemology is more than something esoteric that Physics Education researchers worry about but rather something that we all worry about every minute of the day. It is inseparable from cognition itself. Like The Matrix it is everywhere around us in every part of our lives. Every act in the classroom sends an epistemic message about what it means to know something in that context. These epistemic messages are encoded in our assessments, the textbook, the way we talk, the structure of the physical classroom and so on. These messages form the fundamental backbone of what we call the hidden curriculum.. It is the hidden epistemic feedback between the elements of the educational system that make it both easy to manipulate, and resistant to change.
Last modified: Mon Oct 4 13:07:14 2010