[ExI] systems thinking

Aware aware at awareresearch.com
Sun Jul 12 04:03:18 UTC 2009

On Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 1:44 PM, ben<benboc at lineone.net> wrote:
> Jef bemoaned:
>>Oh, for a world where systems-thinking were taught to children
>>alongside fairy tales, fables, mythology and pop-culture.
> If one wanted to give oneself an education in systems-thinking, what would
> you recommend?
> And is it necessary or desirable to be maths-educated, or even particularly
> numerate, for this?

One might begin here:


I don't see that it has much to with skill with numbers, but for me it
does have a very geometrical, or rather topological aspect.  For
example, systems necessarily have an inside, an outside and an
interface.  Systems may be nested like Matrioshka dolls, and may
exhibit various symmetries, hierarchies, self-similarities,  growth
(both positive and negative), coupling, hysteresis, and feedback loops
(also both positive and negative.)  Synergies, economies and
dis-economies of scale come into play.

More to my point of educating children, I've been playing with the
idea of writing a "Child's Garden of Conceptual Archetypes."  Written
in language and settings appropriate for children of selected ages and
phases of development, stories would entertain while engaging with the
child's thinking around archetypes including the following:
[in no particular order]
* Synergies
*Moving targets
*Unasking a question
*Encompassing a paradox
*Encompassing a disagreement
*Equilibrium (static and dynamic)
*Negative feedback
*Positive feedback
*Avalanche (cascades)
*Phase change
*Regression to the mean
*Diminishing returns
*Economies of scale
*Dis-economies of scale
*Boom and bust cycles
*Goal-seeking vs values-promoting behavior
*Shifting the burden
*The importance of scale
*The importance of context
*Seeing the bigger picture
*Fixing a problem at its source
*Conservation of resources
*Depletion of resources
*The idea that "bigger is better"
*Analysis and synthesis
*Compounding of effects, of seemingly rational decisions
*Figure-ground effects
*Perceptual filters
*Multiple levels of perspective
*Non-linearity (small decisions leading to big problems)
*Cumulative error
*Central tendency
*Randomness vs uncertainty
*Coupling efficiency
*Hierarchies of information
*Hierarchies of control
*Arithmetic, geometric, exponential, logistical growth
*Circular causation
*Multiple cause and effect
*Unintended consequences
*Structure as low-frequency change
*Boundaries and horizons
*Everything happens at an interface
*Linear, areal, volumetric scaling
*Short-term vs long-term effects
*Systems within systems within...
*Entropy and negentropy
*Solutions that create problems
and so on, in some roughly reinforcing, constructive sequence.

- Jef

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