Where Things Come from and Where They Go to

How much do we really think?  Here’s an example.  Toilets are a vital component of world health, yet we rarely give them a second thought.  For us, they are just there when we need them.  Just like almost everything else in our secure western world.

The truth is that complex interconnected systems deliver food, energy, clothing, consumer goods and all the rest of our daily necessities.  We rarely stop to ask where something comes from or where it goes to.

No wonder at work we must train people to think about systems and workflows.  We become frustrated by the common attitude of “I’m just doing my job” because this attitude rarely takes into account how others are affected.

What if we were to train students to view everything in their lives as a part of a system, and to trace every product they touch and every activity they engage in from its beginning to its end.  I think we would first of all traumatize them, and then we would radicalize them.

We (justifiably) protect our children from the horrors of the slaughterhouse and the sweatshop.  Yet, children who don’t think about systems turn into adults who expect things to just be there when they need them.  Smart adults can and do make huge mistakes by ignoring the broader context.

True systems thinking is a subversive activity.  See thinkpurpose’s blog for more on this topic.  It was widely reported in 2012 that certain Texans rejected critical thinking being taught in school, since it might lead students to reject parental authority.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Thinking is the solution to what ails us.  Einstein reportedly said

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them

As long as we ignore systems thinking, education will never truly be reformed.

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