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04/11/2017

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Gabby Makatura

I think the problem that you discuss in your blog post can be related to a myriad of other topics that we seem to just now be stumbling upon. For example, I have recently become more interested in permaculture and ways to help organize your community in a way that is mot sustainable and effective. While learning these things I constantly wonder why more people do not know about these very simple methods, and more importantly why we did not learn these things while we were much younger and far more impressionable.

I fear that topics like systems thinking, permaculture, self-sufficiency, managing money, even being a good person are topics found mostly in progressive private schools or similar schools with room for creativity. In regards to your question I think information such as this could be made more universal, democratic, and successful if it was taught in schools at young ages as opposed to cursive, the exact dates and times of history events, and other less important topics (in my opinion).

Jennifer Shriver

Alec, I heartily concur.

In fact, I find even the Cabreras seem to take systems thinking to a level that is more sophisticated and inaccessible than is really necessary.

Early on in their book, they seem to disparage the idea of Systems for Dummies.

But I want a systems for dummies book. I want their examples slowed down, broken down, opened up. I want more real-world examples, or a handful of examples that they use each time, as they layer in another piece of systems theory.

It still seems elusive, like the bluebird of happiness.

At the same time, I agree with you on this point too: at root, systems theory is a powerful tool for insight and action.

I think of the activists who during the movement to end Apartheid in South Africa, went after University investments in South Africa. And sports. And rock stars. And started buying a couple of pieces of stock in corporations so that they could go to stockholder meetings and ask difficult questions and disrupt. They found leverage points that were extraordinarily effective and toppled that horrible sick torturing super-bad-news regime.

And let Nelson Mandela out of jail.

If you've never heard it, check out this song that was one culmination of all this systemic activism and hard work:

https://www.last.fm/music/The+Specials/_/Free+Nelson+Mandela

Cody Janousek

When I taught, it was at the same high school I went to. I had a student come up to me one day and tell me my name was signed in the front of her History textbook and I was disappointed on a number of levels.

The problems I see currently happening in our education system is a matter of engagement and momentum. Students struggle to engage with the material, not because they're unintelligent, but because it is not crafted to who they are. The same textbooks get used year after year, only to get supplemented if the teacher can find time. We have an incredible amount of momentum in the curriculum currently being taught, and it's leading us to create the same "cookie-cutter" student out of high school. Those of which emerge from this system and go to college to become teachers have always been taught from the same curriculum, and it creates a feedback loop even if the teacher went and learned the best pedagogy possible. Thinking of leverage points, I would love to push on some to open up new curriculum in the K12 arena, and systems thinking is a great contender in that list of needed classes. Also, wild idea here... maybe we fund schools better so they can get new books, decrease the student to teacher ratio, and pay teachers competitively so more talent is brought into the profession.

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