The Climate [Treehorn] aka The Situation [Brady]
Yesterday, The Treehorn Express dealt with three major aspects of schooling in Australia…. The Climate, The Child. The School.
Coincidentally, Marion Brady , esteemed U.S. educator and commentator, advocate for Systems Thinking for improving the organisation of schooling, who is frequently featured in The Washington Post, today, provided a more succinct version of The Climate. You’d think that he lived in Australia, wouldn’t you? Those aspects that apply especially to Australia’s demise in its schooling credentials, have been highlighted.
Tradition, institutional inertia, multi-layered bureaucracies, fear of change, textbook publishers, testing companies, uninformed politicians, and upside-down organization chartsthat put amateurs in charge of experts, block educator acceptance of systems thinking as the primary organizer of school curricula.
No plan is in place to address these institutional obstacles to curricular innovation.
A way forward:
Lasting curricular change is bottom up and voluntary, propelled by the enthusiasm of kids and teachers. The optimum place and time to introduce systems thinking is at the middle school level, using multidisciplinary teacher teams working with small groups, and offering social science, language arts, and humanities credits. Introduce systems thinking at that level, and its merit will eventually lead to adoption at other levels.
Responsibility for evaluating learner performance must be returned to teachers. Commercially produced, standardized, machine scored tests can’t measure complex or original thought, and can’t judge the quality of a major source of learning—group dialogue and cooperation.
Below are links to an e-book*** that makes the case for systems thinking as the major organizer of schooling, and four illustrative courses of study**** written for adolescents and older learners. In the spirit of “open source,” all are free to educators who wish to use them—no money, no sign-up, no strings, no obligation. User suggestions for improving the activities can keep them current and continuously adapt them to inevitable social change.
*Einstein et al; http://www.marionbrady.com/documents/QuotesFragmentation.pdf
** Systems theory (Wikipedia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory
****Courses of study: http://www.marionbrady.com