Complexity Thinking and Co-Present Groups

  • Paul HagerEmail author
  • David Beckett
Part of the Perspectives on Rethinking and Reforming Education book series (PRRE)


Chapter  6 introduced the co-present group concept, thereby extending and consolidating common-sense understandings of the purpose and functioning of small work groups. Chapter  7 introduced and explained major concepts within complexity thinking. This chapter synthesises the achievements of these two previous chapters by demonstrating how complexity thinking serves to expand and deepen our understandings of the processes and significance of co-present groups. Since co-present groups persist and are sustained by their activities over time, complexity thinking’s focus on the concept of ‘emergence’ has vital significance. Emergence is a temporal phenomenon. This chapter treats two main cases in detail: emergence within a co-present group itself (i.e. within a complex system of complex systems) and within individual co-present group members (i.e. within a single complex system). After this, the chapter broadens into a consideration of how complexity thinking can illuminate larger scale phenomena, such as the relations between sets of co-present groups, and cases where individuals are simultaneously and/or successively members of several co-present groups. The chapter ends by considering the implications of the foregoing account of co-present groups and complexity thinking for the concept of ‘professional judgement’, understood in its broadest sense. The notion of professional judgement is central to our constructive responses in Part III (i.e. Chaps.  9 and  10) to the problems and issues identified in Part I (i.e. Chaps.  1 5) of this book.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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