How to Identify Mental Health Illness in Children to Produce Successful Adults in the Society

Systems Thinking Used to Teach Critical Thinking to Educational Administrators and Principals

Systems thinking refers to a management discipline that involves an understanding of the structure by evaluating the leakages and connections between the components within the system (The CEO Forum, 2001). Evaluation of the system entails a comprehensive academic organization in connection to the environment. There is a necessity for an understanding, analysis, and discussion of the organization as a composition of diverse interrelated elements that operate together for successful occupation (Trilling & Fadel, 2009). The study focuses on how systems thinking can be applied to impart critical thinking to educational administrators and principals. The Study argues that systems thinking are a useful approach in teaching critical thinking to educational administrators and principals. The objective of the study is to find out the essence of systems thinking as a teaching approach to educational administrators and principals.

Problem Project Defined

Swift societal modifications have dramatically altered the educational needs, which in turn have challenged the educational sector to transform the structure and processes in the academic institutions. The main reason for change is that the present society has outgrown the academic institutions. The present predominant educational system was established for the industrial age needs of equipping children into future factory workers and leaders, disseminate main knowledge and enhance basic skills (Sack-Min, 2007; Waxman, Connell & Gray, 2002). The model was appropriate earlier on with the advent of the information age. Presently with a commencement of the communication age, the model fails to meet societal needs (Wasson, Ludvigsen, & Hoppe, 2003.). Instead, the model has limited teachers and administrators in the 21st century (Paige, 2009). With the increase of information, the educational system cannot focus on memorizing as the main form of learning, since no human being can take in all the required information at a go (Walton, Connell, & Gray, 2002). There is, therefore, need to assist our students to become useful synthesizers of knowledge. This strategy can only be possible if we commence first with principals and administrators who will assist students solve complex problems (Van, 2005). Since the society is presently in need of workers who can continuously think critically, create solutions, and work collaboratively, there is a need to create a new learning concepts and teaching (Rabkin, Nick, & Robin, 2004; O’Hare & McGuinness, 2009). Other than understanding the necessity to redesign the educational sector, it is necessary that the entire sector is equipped with the necessary skills to establish alternative schools (Caruso & Kvavik, 2005; University of Minnesota, 2009). In the past, reforms failed to start off, mainly because the present school model lacked that capability of system design (Pacific Policy Research Center, 2010). To overcome this challenge, it is necessary to incorporate systems thinking to teach critical thinking to the academic administrators and principals (U.S. Department of Labor, 2009; Thayer-Bacon, 2000). Systems thinking will evaluate all forms of relationships within the academic field, such as the teacher-student relationships (Claris & Riley, 2012). To understand how teachers and the administrators interconnect with systems thinking, it is necessary to focus on the reaction of the administrators and teachers to systems thinking (Paul & Elder, 2006).

Overview of the Rationale

In the recent past, schools faces a major shift in what is expected to deliver in the society. From its establishment, education has been useful in providing access to education for all children in the nation. Since the basis of offering education was on the need to offer opportunities, public education system is presently failing to offer students what they require to survive and thrive in the modern society. This calls for the need to modify the kind of education, education system, and system leader. Reform efforts like standards and accountability movements failed to address the underlying problem in the education sector. Changing the expected results and the systems for evaluating the results does not change the system. To make a total turning point, it is necessary to move the education sector to a new paradigm of high achievements by all students through an enormous renovation of the system. For public education to produce different results, it is necessary to modify the change of the basic assumptions and practices. These changes can only be possible by producing of public education leadership. System thinking is a useful tool for the leaders to use to produce relevant results in the education system.

Objectives

The objective of the study is to find out why systems thinking as a teaching approach to educational administrators and principals ought to be introduced in the educational system and the essence of systems thinking as a teaching approach to educational administrators and principals. The study besides identifies the features of systems thinking approach in the educational system.

Literature Review

Studies by McFarlane (2003) reveal that the society is presently going through some undefined modifications that have never been recorded in history. To go through these changes successfully, the society needs to redesign the societal systems, not only to meet the current needs but also to define the future that is envisioned (Metiri Group, 2006). Among the significant areas to redefine is schooling (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2000). While it may be tempting for other professionals to define the school system, it is not the optimal choice since stakeholders can rise to solve their unique needs and objectives. The school stakeholders comprise of the principals and the administrators (Butler,et al, 2012). These stakeholders however, cannot, design effectively the schools in the absence of the skills in systems thinking (Brown, Murphy & Nanny, 2003). These skills enable a designer to analyze present systems and alternative systems by examining the reactions of people and learning goals (Bergen, 2009).

Other studies by Behar-Horenstein (2011) highlight the essence of incorporating systems thinking as a teaching aid for imparting critical thinking to principals and administrators. The study accentuates that enhanced quality includes the design that not only optimizes relationship among the system elements but also the environment. This implies that by incorporating systems thinking in schools, the system will interact with constantly multiple environments and coordinate with numerous systems in the environment. System thinking is capable of incorporating continuous modifications, uncertainty, and ambiguity while at the same time maintains its ability to advance with the environment by changing itself. System thinking is able to manage creatively variations and welcome complex and ambiguous events in the sector. As an organizational learning system, the system is able to differentiate situations, maintain the present achievements, as well as make amendments where appropriate. New purposes can be sorted and defined within the environment in addition to identifying continuing knowledge that requires specialization and diversification.

Critical thinking incorporates skills for analyzing arguments, formulating inferences through deductive reasoning, evaluating, and solving issues (Lai, 2011). It is necessary to be equipped with background knowledge for effective critical thinking over a subject (Mathews, 2009). In critical thinking, cognitive skills and dispositions are collaborated to include open and fair-mindedness, flexibility, and desire to remain well informed. Previous studies show a connection between critical thinking and human development (Bell, 2009). The studies prove that critical is developed at a very young age and can be enhanced by enlightening people on how they can transfer new contexts and apply collaborative learning methods, and constructive approaches (Lowden, 2005). The studies further illustrate that critical thinking is a component of systems thinking in terms of its capacity and practice (Abrami, et al, 2008).

The major concepts in systems thinking are strategy, coherence, culture, and capacity (Lance, Rodney & Hamilton-Pennell, 2000). These concepts ought to be embedded in reform practices to enhance learning. Irrespective of the socioeconomic status of the academic administrators, the challenge of raising achievements for students is still an issue. Goal setting becomes the initial point of identifying pressing student learning needs, followed by application of data to establish priorities as a cornerstone of an effective strategy to meet the set goal (Guskey, 2002).

Research by Bauer, et al (2009) depicts effects of applying systems thinking in the academic sector. From such studies, implementation of systems thinking results to a transformation of the systems (Gordon, 2003). Some of the features necessary for transformation include continuous and constant improvement of policies and practices, alignment of the curriculum in the system, and accountability that is based on the performance (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2003; Brodahl, Hadjerrouit & Hansen, 2001). The defined performance drives and ensures sustainable change, interconnectivity to other community systems, clear priorities for achieving global success with matching resources, and preparation of students who are responsible and productive as citizens (Levine, 2005; Browne & Freeman, 2000). This implies that transformed systems are capable of attaining the new expectation of the global success of every student while offering access to the public education for all children (Gordon, 2003; Clark, 2009).

With the foreseeable changes, the role of school administrators and teachers is expected to change (Clark et al, 2009; Buckingham, 2007). Within the school system, the administrator is expected to be the moral and intellectual leader who is the main learner, a composer, and conductor rather than being the commander as in the former system (Carroll, 2007). In the community, school administrators are people who are to leadthe effort to relate interdependently the education system with other community systems and have an impact on the delivery of the services to children (Bybee & Starkweather, 2006; Robinson, 2006). To meet the stated expectations, public education ought to be transformed to attain global achievements. Presently, the public education system is designed to offer equal educational access and opportunity for every child but not designed to attain the universal success (Bordonaro & Richardson, 2004: Bell et al, 2009). Universal success refers to the expectation that every child irrespective of the background will learn in similar high standards (Barnett, 2003; Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000; National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). To achieve this standard, public education ought to be transformed and strengthened so the children can compete domestically and internationally and maintain high standards of living (Willingham, 2007). A strong, vibrant, and flexible educational system is thus necessary to ensure the development of the highly competent citizens (Van, 2005; Silva, 2008; Martinez, 2006). Educational leaders and educators are required to depict characters that support the concept of universal success by ensuring that every child possesses sufficient learning ability to academic proficiency and that the systems within the schools can educate the children to attain the recommended high standards (Koenig & Harris, 2005; Heyman & Legare, 2005).

Methodology

The study is to apply qualitative case study on two institutions that have applied systems thinking in their institutions. This research is expected to be conducted in two weeks period during which the researchers will study the institution that applies systems thinking to the teachers and the school administrators. The main data collection approaches will be observations, interviews, and evaluation of previous studies conducted in related fields. The researchers are to visit two elementary and two high schools during this time and conduct interviews with a given number of principals and two school administrators, five parents, and ten students. Participants will be interviewed on the changes academic materials have to undergo in an application of systems thinking in their institutions. Thereafter the derived data from observation and interviews will be compared to the previous findings on the effect of systems thinking as a teaching tool for critical thinking to principals and administrators.

Findings

The study is expected to demonstrate that systems thinking are a highly essential teaching approach to educational administrators and principals. The study should besides identify features of systems thinking the approach in the educational system. From the studies conducted, it is apparent that system thinking naturally nurtures critical thinking, which n turn results in lifelong applications. One tool that is applicable beyond the classroom is the behavior over time graph because of its versatile applications as students become more empowered by sharing the story of their graphs.

Study Limitation

Since the study focuses on qualitative methods, it fails to accurately provide information related to system thinking. This weakness is majorly attributed to the single use of qualitative method rather than applying mixed methodology. Two institutions will be used as samples in the study rather than entire institutions that apply systems thinking in teaching critical thinking to principals and school administrators.

Summary Reflection

A system refers to a set of elements that operate wholly to derive common purpose (Angeli & Valanides, 2009), whereas an element refers to the essential and dependent component of the system. This implies that a system cannot attain its purpose in the absence of an element and an element cannot replicate the operations of the system (Halpern, 2001). Since the elements add values to the system, the entire system is greater than the sum total of the elements (Case, 2005). A system must bear the ability to import energy across its limits or create new sources of energy (ASCD, 2016; King, Goodson & Rohani, 2006).

In the absence of any element in a system, the system will not operate perfectly. Principals and administrators have been underscored in the past, yet they play profound roles in education and institution set up. An open system, in this case, refers to the system that is capable of importing and exporting energy whereas a closed system refers to the system that cannot import energy or replace whatever energy it has lost (Bailin, 2002). A school as an academic institution is a form of a system whereas teachers, students, parents, and administrators form the elements of a system (Facione, 2000). An open system/ school will borrow and implement useful concepts in guiding and teachings students whereas a closed system will derail in applying and modifying their concepts for enhanced productivity. These definitions additionally emphasize the need for systems thinking in educating the academic principals and teachers on critical thinking as a solution to academic problems (Kuhn & Dean, 2004).

The introduction of systems thinking to administrators and principals is of profound value as it influences students’ capacity of understanding critical thinking through the application of diverse tools (Gellin, 2003). Administrators and principals alike can focus their efforts on applying systems thinking tools to surface major concepts and make the tools accessible to students (Anderson, 2007). Besides this, system thinking can be used to slow down, step back, and evaluate the education system for easy understanding of the events in the system. Principals can assist teachers to relate classroom teaching more so in literacy and in science fields (Bailin, Case, Coombs & Daniels, 2009). Numerous other applications can be applied across the curriculum to introduce systems thinking habits to students.

Conducting this research has been useful in identifying the weaknesses and challenges related to a modification of the academic system to system thinking (Lutz & Keil, 2002). It is besides apparent how the needs of the society have evolved within the last decade (Moresch, 2010). These changes touch the academic sector, as there is increasing demand for system modifications (O’Hare & McGuinness, 2009). With the presence of the total quality management, there is a need to improve systems thinking to solve the education challenges as well as meet the demand to counter total quality standards (NCREL & Metiri Group, 2003). The demand for systemic modifications has increasingly over popularized the term ‘system thinking’ without a prior fundamental understanding of the implications (Andretta, 2005). This failure heightens the need for academic administrators and principals to understand adequately the current approaches in relation to critical thinking (Thayer-Bacon, 2000).

The present failure of the public education is eminent in its success in the past (Brodie & Irving, 2007). The information has been derived from the background of the sector where education system came to birth to transmit core knowledge and cultural values, as preparations for the students for their future (Burns, 2002). In this function, the public sector has faced innumerable success but less successful in creating problem-solving and decision-making. Consequently, public education has emerged as the prime source of stability in the society. According to Bybee & Starkweather (2006), some of the efforts in the sector have made little success mainly because of an incremental approach, failure to incorporate solution ideas, and staying within the limitations of the prevailing systems. Persistence in mistaken belief illustrates the interpretation of present experiences using old models and redundant metaphors (Carroll, 2007). From the definitions of evidence derived from previous studies, old system cannot sufficiently operate the present role of academics in the country (Casner-Lotto & Barrington, 2006). This assertion further underscores the fact that no amount of perfection of an old system can produce significant improvement in the education sector.

Conclusion

Systems thinking refer to the management discipline that involves an understanding of the system by evaluation of the leakages and connections between the components in the system. The system offers an understanding, analysis, and discussion of the organization as a composition of diverse interrelated systems that operate together for a successful occupation. The Study argued that systems thinking are a useful approach in teaching critical thinking to educational administrators and principals. The objective of the study was to find out the essence of systems thinking as a teaching approach to educational administrators and principals. From the findings, it is apparent that system thinking naturally nurtures critical thinking, which in turn results in lifelong applications. From the definitions of systems thinking and critical thinking, old system cannot sufficiently operate the present role of academics in the country, since no perfection of an old system can produce significant improvement in the education sector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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