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New England Complex Systems Institute
238 Main Street Suite 319, Cambridge, MA 02142
Phone: 617-547-4100 Fax: 617-661-7711

NECSI's educational research provides insight into what schools should teach, how to improve teaching and learning, and finding a more effective school structure. Additionally, NECSI's mind and brain studies provide research on how creativity, individual differences, and various modes of learning result from the structure of our nervous system.

Our research investigates the psychological problems caused when the environments in which children and teachers interact don't have the right level of complexity. High complexity leads to undue stress, while low complexity leads to boredom. Each carries a severe toll when unalleviated for extended periods.

Current efforts to improve the educational system employ standardized tests to evaluate students, teachers, and schools. However, our scientific analysis supports the claim that such tests promote unfulfilling and unproductive uniformity among students. The diverse needs of today's students and today's society can only be met by more individualized programs of learning.

We identify three areas of application of complex systems ideas in education:

  • The Education System
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Teaching Complex Systems Concepts

Publications, Books & Edited Volumes

Y. Bar-Yam, Complex Systems Principles and Education: Focusing on Universal Principles and Individual Differences. Kaput Center, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, March 14, 2012. [Video recording of seminar]

Y. Bar-Yam, Making Things Work: Solving Complex Problems in a Complex World, Knowledge Press, 2005, chapters 12-13.

Complex Systems Perspectives on Education and the Education System. (M. Bar-Yam, K. Rhoades, L.B. Sweeney, J. Kaput, Y. Bar-Yam)

Changes in the Teaching and Learning Process in a Complex Education System. (M. Bar-Yam, K. Rhoades, L.B. Sweeney, J. Kaput, Y. Bar-Yam)

Planning Documents for a National Initiative on Complex Systems in K-16 Education. June 20, 1999. (J. Kaput, Y. Bar-Yam, M. Jacobson, E. Jakobsson, J. Lemke, U. Wilensky, and Collaborators)

Photo © woodleywonderworks on Flickr