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Systems Thinkers in Action

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Table of Contents

1 Foreword 2 Introduction 3 Open Systems Theory and System Dynamics: The Twin Pillars of Transformational Change in School Districts 4 Chaos Theory and the Sciences of Complexity: Foundations for Transforming Education 5 Using Systems Thinking to Improve Twenty-First Century Schools 6 School Improvement: A Systemic View of What's Missing and What to Do about It 7 The Crucible of Reform: The Search for Systemic Leadership 8 Leadership and the Self-Organizing School 9 Strange Attractors in School Leadership 10 Shared Accountability: An Organic Approach 11 Exploring the Shape of Change: Utilizing the Power of System Dynamics in K-12 Education 12 Culture, Chaos and Complexity: Catalysts for Change in Indigenous Education 13 Expanding the Space of the Possible: Understanding Knowledge, Learning, and Teaching as Nested and Recursively Elaborative Processes 14 Conclusions and Continued Beginnings: Application of the Systemic Factors Inventory Analysis Matrix

About the Author

Blane Despres is assistant professor of education at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan.


Blane Despres has assembled a forceful, instructive and imaginative collection. It is given to the skilled and productive identification of systematic elements at work within what otherwise seems to be the blooming buzz of factors that affect school reform. Within this approach lies much hope for realizing and sustaining better schools. -- John Willinsky, pacific press professor of Literacy and Technology, The University of British Columbia and author, Learning to Divide the World At the outset of my career in university education we were but a few pockets of systemic thinkers scattered thinly across the globe. A transformation in paradigm in the latter 1900s saw systemic thinking enter the mindsets of both mainstream academia and everyday working life. That this revolution has brought systemic thinking back on itself to critically evaluate the educational fabric from which it was spawned is the ultimate exemplar of systemic thinking. This volume explores an exciting variety of systemic investigations into the educational process and is to be recommended as both insightful into systemic thinking and instructive about applied systemic thinking within education. -- Robert L. Flood, author, Rethinking The Fifth Discipline This family of theories-systems, chaos, and complexity-has so much to contribute to our thinking about and practice of education. At base, they embrace and empower the individual human spirit. Systems Thinking in Action will help place these ideas where they deserve to be in our teaching and scholarship-at dead center. -- Marc Cutright, The University of North Texas and editor, Chaos Theory and Higher Education: Leadership, Practice, and Policy

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