Teaching for complex systems thinking.

I am really enjoying this new book by Rosemary Hipkins from NZCER, which explores the kind of complex systems thinking students need for success in the twenty-first century.

Many will be familiar with Hipkins’ scholarly work on key competencies, science education, assessment, and curriculum integration. She’s a super smart thinker herself (and yes, she’s also Minister of Education Chris Hipkins’ mum!)

In this volume, Hipkins suggests that we need education that prepares young people to grapple with complexity or the ‘wicked problems’ of the world. As well as being able to model and predict, she says, students need to learn to apply “It Depends” thinking. We need to teach them that humans are part of systems that can change in unpredictable ways – and we need to teach them using approaches that are authentic, engaging, and cross-curricula.

The notion of complex systems thinking is fascinating and my own head is popping with all the ideas, insights and practical examples included in the book. I particularly love the stuff about assessment – I feel like this is information I’ve been looking for for a long time. And it’s very gratifying to note that Hipkins specifically mentions Mantle of the Expert as a pedagogy that ‘brings thinking and sensing together'(page 80).

I have the feeling I’ll be returning to this book many times as I continue to muse about ‘complex systems thinking’ and how we can support this in our teaching.

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