Schools as systems LO26519

From: Janis Dutton (
Date: 04/13/01

Replying to LO26489 --

Thank you for your question Michael. I am curious about the responses you
will receive.

I'm not sure quite what you mean by "genuinely good systems models"
since a model is only as good as its specific context, and as genuine as
the understanding of the mental models that went into creating it.
Still, you may be interested in some of the following:

 * I have heard Peter Senge speak to a number of education audiences, and
he often engages them in using the Shifting the Burden archetype.
Inevitably, standardized testing is brought up as an example and leads to
some interesting conversations. Shifting the Burden, Fixes that Fail, and
Success to the Successful are arguably the most prevalent archetypes in
education. Try thinking of the latter as Success to the Privileged. Our
book Schools That Learn takes up a few of these.

 * Staying on the same testing thread, David Wheat of Wheat Resources Inc.
has created a dynamic model of of the Virginia Standards movement which I
find to be quite interesting. contains a
number of documents on education.

 * I have an Innovation Associates model of a Disabling Balancing Loop in
Education taped to my office wall. Unfortunately I can't remember right
now who created it. Perhaps Rick can help.

 * Try your question with the systems dynamics K-12 group email list
<> You can visit the archives at

 * Try the Creative Learning Exchange at "Of ongoing interest and
study at the CLE is the introduction of systems education in schools.
Using the concepts of system dynamics to learn about the process of
education in this country, the CLE can apply the knowledge gained to
school systems to further systems education."--CLE web site

I would like to add some topics to Michael's list :

 + a comparison of the megabucks and time spent by business on training
and development and the pittance communities budget for professional
development of educators; the types of development, i.e. building capacity
for understanding complexity and productive conversations vs specific
techniques; and the results of these experiences.

 + laying sole responsibility for school violence on students and parents
and letting educators and the school culture and policies off the hook.

Despite the noble efforts of the people mentioned above, those at Pegasus
and the Society for Organizational Learning, and the sporadic and halting
messages on this list, the silence of the learning organization community
on schools is deafening. Where are you? The public conversation around
schools is becoming increasingly shallow and focused on quick fixes.
Complexity is ignored and productive conversations are dismissed.

The combined voices LOrgers from within and outside education
organizations is our only hope. Systems thinking teaches there is no
inside or outside. It's all the same system, and we created it.


Janis Dutton


Janis Dutton <>

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