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Complexity thinking and understanding are vital skills for young people in these times of uncertainty and change. Such skills contribute to resilience and capacities for adaptivity and innovation. Within my teaching practice I have found students to be aware of complex dynamics, uncertainty and change, both in their lives and in the world. However, the current curriculum lacks language and process to conceptualise, articulate and develop complexity understanding. To address this problem, I developed and introduced a patterns-based design and process to a cohort of Australian secondary students. Comprising flowform patterning together with ecological metaphors, the design forms a conceptual language and practical process for thinking about, understanding and engaging with complex phenomena and change. Together these capacities are described here as complexity competence. Implemented initially to engage with time as a complex phenomenon, the design is described as the Patterns of Humantime (PHT), and the process of implementation as Complexity Patterning. Implementation during the development phase demonstrated the design’s capacity as a way to understand time as a complex phenomenon, as well as facilitating a relational and identity development approach to learning. In more recent research workshops with American undergraduate Liberal Studies students, the PHT design showed to be effective for understanding complexity and indicated the design’s capacity as a patterning process for engaging in collaborative projects in complex situations of diversity, change and uncertainty. Avenues to develop curriculum and evaluation materials, as well as professional development workshops, are being explored.