Talking About Systems: looking for systems in the news (and not)
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Posts Tagged ‘Systems Thinking Playbook’

Systems Thinking for Kids: The Kitchen Sink

I pulled together a list of my”systems thinking for kids” work (articles, blogs, interviews, games, teachers guides, etc.) for a possible funder. I thought you all might enjoy browsing through the curated  list:

Learning to Connect the Dots (An article in Solutions, republished in Utne Reader. My best attempt so far at explaining why it makes sense for kids to “think about systems”.  Lots of practical activities at the end.) 

Center for Ecoliteracy: If you cut a cow in half, do you get two cows?(Interview. talking with kids about living systems).   

Huffington Post (Article, ways to help children see beyond the obvious)

Connected Wisdom:  (Good old stories about living systems, along with fun activities in the teachers guide, free training module and more. Just follow the yellow flower icon.) I’m happy to report that we have two NEW Connected Wisdom resources:  A teachers’ guide and an on-line, video-based, training module (both are free).  If you love all things related to LIVING SYSTEMS and STORIES, read the lost endnotes (cut by the publisher!) to Connected Wisdom. 

Highlights Magazine for Children:  (A “systems thinking for kids” view of wolves in Yellowstone.)  

Systems Thinking Playkits:  (Interactive game for kids, 8-88!  Wolf kit too). 

Talking to Teens About Texting:  (Uses a true story about a teen party that spiraled out of control to sneak in a lesson about exponential growth)

PBS — City Farm Game.  (Working with PBS,  we incorporated systems literacy concepts into this on-line game for middle school students.  Try it!)

Little Pickle Press Post (Learning about reinforcing feedback through a true story of sibling rivalry.)

The Farm as Classroom: (Using the farm to “think about systems”.  Written for farmer-educators.)

And the one that started it all:  When a Butterfly Sneezes:  A Guide for Exploring Interconnections in Our World Through Favorite Children’s Stories. (Using pictures books , many of which are likely on your bookshelf, to encourage children to “connect the dots” and other systems thinking habits of mind):  You can order this  book through Leveraged Networks (Contact Rebecca Niles – rebecca@leveragenetworks.com, or Kris Wile kris@leveragenetworks.com).

Although The Systems Thinking Playbook/DVD  (30 experiential activities to build systems thinking habits of mind) wasn’t originally written for children,  I frequently receive notes from educators who use it in their classrooms, so I’ll add it here. (The Creative Learning Exchange has made connections between the Playbook and their Connection to Characteristics of Complex Systems Project.  See www.clexchange.org to learn more).  And some good news:  The System Thinking Playbook is now available as an e-book (and available on Apple, B&N and VOOK as well).

 

Museums + Systems Thinking:  I worked this year with the Mishkat Interactive Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy and the amazing team at KCA London to integrate systems thinking into the Saudi Arabia 2050 traveling exhibit designed to encourage middle school students in Saudi Arabia to rethink energy consumption habits. A fantastic project!  I’ll post pictures when I can.

Digital Media: As part of a collaborative initiative with the University of Indiana, the National Writing Project, the Institute of Play, and Digital Youth Network, I worked with the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media Learning Initiative to produce a series of digital design activities to cultivate systems thinking in middle school students.  The books are done and will be available in early 2014.  I’ll post a link when I get it.  

And finally, I recently started an author’s page on Facebook that gives updates on my  work and occasional inspiration. You can “like” if here (if you like):https://www.facebook.com/lindaboothsweeney 

 

 

The Little Red Book That Could

I just returned from a two day Systems Thinking-Systems Practice seminar in Seattle.  Fritjof Capra* and I partnered to run the seminar for a remarkable cohort of Organization Systems Renewal (OSR) students at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

OSR cohort, with myself and Fritjof Capra (seated), and with twins, River and Rain

I could dedicate this blog to OSR, a one-of-a-kind, two-year master’s program that takes a deep dive into applied systems thinking and design thinking.

But for now, I just want to crow!
Throughout the two-days we used activities from the Systems Thinking Playbook, a book I first wrote in 1995 and then co-authored second and third volumes with master systems dynamicist Dennis Meadows.

Eighteen years later I am delighted say, this little red book is still chugging.  The exercises remain relevant, flex to different learning objectives and give folks a chance to learn to “think about systems” while having fun.

Throughout the two-day seminar, we wove in five different Playbook exercises.  Each one was designed to help the students explore, experientially a particular perspective or systems principle.

The pictures below show us doing the Avalanche game (see page 215 of the Playbook for the full set of instructions and debrief).  

Who said learning couldn't be fun?

If you haven’t played Avalanche, here’s how it goes:

Imagine that this hula hoop is a problem – it could be low market share, GHG concentrations in the atmosphere, the gap between the rich and the poor.

The goal of this exercise is to reduce the problem (e.g., improve market share, lower concentrations of GHG) by taking the hoop to the ground

 There are two rules:

1) You are touching the hoop with the top of your finger. (The hoop rests lightly on the top of one finger)

2) Never lose contact with the hoop

When I say “Go!”,  the group attempts to lower the hoop to the ground

What happens?  90% of the time the hoop goes up instead of down. (This doesn’t happen if the hoops are too heavy).

From there, you’ve got the group’s attention.  Why did this happen? Where do we see this happen in real life — increases in GHG emissions, environmental damage, widening gaps, lower market share — when we’re looking for the opposite results?

A key insight here is that as long as the rules are in place,  the hoop is going to go up.  The rules produce the behavior.  If you want different behavior, you want different rules.

The Systems Thinking Playbook and DVD is available through Chelsea Green PublishersAmazon, and soon through Leveraged Networks.  (For more information on Leverage Networks, contact Rebecca Niles – rebecca@leveragenetworks.com, or Kris Wile kris@leveragenetworks.com).  The Playbook will be available as an eBook (through VOOK) by December 15.

The Systems Thinking Playbook for Climate Change will be available in early 2014.  This version includes a set of new and adapted Playbook activities that will be useful to those who are trying to communicate with others about the causes and consequences of climate change (Authors: Linda Booth Sweeney, Dennis Meadows and the brilliant Gillian Martin-Mehers).  Stay tuned.

*Fritjof has a new book out on Leonardo Da Vinci as a systems thinker.  I’ll write more about this in my next post.