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We want to help children practice systemic awareness and agency; to help them see, understand, and act in systems with congruence and intention from an early age.
“Systems thinking” is a framework that emerged in the 20th century as a challenge to reductive attempts to understand the world by studying the properties of its parts. It proposes that systems are best understood by studying interactions, feedback loops and chains of causality between its components.
This mode of thinking has since been applied across a variety of disciplines to study social, ecological, and economic systems. Its importance to tackling the complex environmental, economic and political challenges of the world has raised its status as a discipline, and research demonstrating that systems thinking skills can be learned has given it a solid space in curricula across higher education programs.
However, K-12 education is still dominated by reductionist, information-oriented approaches.
As international organizations contend with the need for education reform and continue to support for the development of 21st century skills, teachers, who are at the frontlines of reform, often struggle to deliver on the skills for the future because they are not provided with a means to integrate them into the system as it currently exists in the present.
We believe that teaching 21st century skills can be easier. The foundational concepts used to describe systems (diversity, feedback, cause and effect, rules, emergent patterns, and interactions, to name a few) provide important bases for the meaningful development of 21st century skills. And the concepts that compose the skills of the future can be observed as phenomena in the Natural World.
Education can change the world. Nature can help change education.
We believe in the creativity, adaptability and collaboration exemplified in the Natural World. Nature's creative strategies include abundance, elaboration, and combination. Its collaborative strategies include decentralized organization and emergent patterns. Exploring the Natural World means exploring new ways of conceiving of our own agency, ways which does not promote individual exceptionalism but systemic wellness instead. There is a way forward in 21st century learning: it's playful, insight-oriented, intuitive, and based on a 4 billion year history of sustainable problem-solving.