Benefits for Students
“Systems thinking habits and tools help students articulate their understanding of the systems they are studying. When middle school students have visual tools that assist their learning and encourage them to think deeply about things that matter to them, they become more motivated and engaged. I’ve been a middle level administrator for 21 years, and have not found a better way to improve school culture, address organizational challenges and promote rigor and relevance in classroom instruction. In addition, former and current students often share the value of systems thinking and how the common language and visual tools have helped them perform better in school and in life.”
– Kathy Scheppe, Principal, Gridley Middle School, Tucson Unified School District, AZ
A systems thinking learning environment is motivating and engaging for even the most reluctant learner. Teachers report that the visual nature of the system thinking tools enables students to organize and express their thinking. The tools help motivate those children who tend to be reluctant to fully engage in learning activities. Overall, it improves students’ ability to:
- connect their learning to real-world situations
- solve complex problems
- consider short-term, long-term and unintended consequences
- apply the habits of a systems thinker to life outside the classroom
- negotiate life choices as adults
Systems thinking helps teach students how to think, and not what to think. It helps develop independent, mature thinkers who have the tools to manage the complexity of today’s systems. Play the video to hear students talk about the impact systems thinking has had on their thinking and learning.
Instructional settings that optimize learning are student-centered, experiential, holistic, and authentic. This type of instructional setting provides students with opportunities to express themselves in different ways, reflect individually and with others, as well as collaborate. Learning involves the construction of ideas and systems and not just rote memorization or manipulation of facts and figures. Systems thinking brings all of these characteristics into the classroom and school. Pairing the powerful strategies of systems thinking with best practices in instruction accelerates students in developing their abilities to live in today’s increasingly complex world.