A new guidebook from KnowledgeWorks serves as an introduction to the theories, language, mindsets and tools of systems thinking to promote educational change.
Systems thinking can be a powerful element of systems transformation, no matter whether we decided to pursue change or it was thrust upon us. Systems thinking is a set of theories, tools, language and mindsets that can help us grapple with the complex and interconnected world around us and make visible our own perceptions of how it works. Ultimately, it can help us deepen our understanding of what stands between us and our aspirational visions and articulate what it might take to bring those visions to reality.
This guidebook supports such an effort. It introduces a set of systems thinking tools to help education stakeholders gain insight into the systems to which they belong and identify how they might foster change. The content and exercises in this guidebook draw upon the deep and established field of systems thinking and adapt a subset of its methods for use by education changemakers.
The content is organized into four lessons that introduce core concepts of systems thinking and include practice questions and exercises, including:
- Setting the scope of a systems exploration and identifying systems behavior that stakeholders wish to change
- Drawing the components and interactions related to a problem that stakeholders agree is important
- Identifying possible actions and their potential depth of impact on the systems problem being explored
- Evaluating the effects of various interventions or events on a systems problem and the larger system in which it sits