Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2011, Hull, UK, Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the ISSS

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How can the educational system enhance the capability of system thinking?

Anja Janischewski, Barbara Brock

Abstract


Climate change requires a reduction of the use of fossil resources – on the same time we still use more and more of them. – On one hand everyone wants to earn as much money as possible and on the other hand we want the government to pay for social security, education and other common needs. – Husband and wife are annoying each other and everyone blames the other one for being guilty.

These are just a few examples to demonstrate, how helpful system sciences could be in solving such problems. Looking back at our own school time we recognised, that in fact already children are able to think in systems in a certain way. Always when children or people in general learn anything new, they connect it to something they already know. Before we enter school, we are used to interdisciplinary learning, in school we start to section our knowledge into subjects.

The main flaw is represented by the fact that most of the exercises are set up in a manner that children are trained to unlearn system thinking. When we are adults, it is quite hard to change our thinking pattern. It is paradox that we try to learn something being an adult that we already knew as a child. Therefore we want to search for methods how to enhance the capability of system thinking during education in general.

Another reason why we chose this topic is that we are kind of specialists on it, because we just came from school and are attending the university. During our education we got to know methods to include system thinking and we want to share our experiences with you. Further more we looked for projects or methods, which already exist. For example:

1.     “Netzwerk” – network, a project of interdisciplinary learning at a school in Austria

2.     “Umweltsystemwissenschaften” – environmental-system sciences – a study course at the University of Graz, Austria

3.     The experimental game “Schule als Staat”, in English: “a school transformed into a state” which took place at a school in Germany

4.     Ecopolicy® - the cybernetic strategy game by Frederic Vester

 


To evaluate these methods we asked users about their experience with them. In general we dealt with the following questions: How does the method work in general? What are the important points you should remember while introducing system thinking into educational systems? What are frequent problems that occur and which solutions can be found? Using this knowledge, we thought about ideas how to include system thinking in our education in a better way and wrote them down. Further more we made an analysis how system thinking in schools would affect our education and in the end the whole society.


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