A “Chaotic” Classroom? Nope. It’s Optimally Ambiguous.

2 06 2014

I’m not a fan of using any form of the word “chaos” when describing a dynamic learning environment. And I’ve been hearing it quite a bit recently. I’m worried.

Sure, you and I know what that means. But the people we’re talking to? Reluctant colleagues? Cautious administrators? Nervous parents? To them, we sound like nut-jobs who don’t know what we’re doing. There’s no chaos on the majority of non-education jobs. Chaos is unsafe. Chaos is where things get lost. Chaos is an accident waiting to happen. Chaos is what OSHA comes in to fix. Chaos is not good.

Instead, I prefer to the term “optimal ambiguity.” It sounds purposeful. Intentional.We mean to create an environment where things aren’t always “just so” and that level of ambiguity varies for each learner, depending upon what they need. And we are intentionally fostering that classroom environment. On purpose.

Of course, to you and me, it’s the exact same thing. But to those who are unsure about our craziness? Understanding that we are intentionally creating a learning environment for optimal ambiguity can be a true comfort when nervous parents, cautious administrators, and reluctant colleagues are trying to understand our unique classroom.

It’s more than just semantics if you want to bring people along toward understanding and acceptance.

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