Good Teaching Is An Expression of Systems Thinking

Posted 1 year, 5 months ago | Originally written on 23 Dec 2022

A system is an assembly of components with effects outside the scope of any one component. These effects are due to interactions between components. This is why we think of systems as synergistic entities with emergent properties.

Anything worth devoting significant time to learn is likely operating under system effects. Therefore, effective teaching must abide by some underlying principles of systems.

  • Understanding is an emergent property.
  • Individual lessons should be devoted towards exposing components.
  • Students will require patience until later lessons to begin to grasp the full implications of the interaction effects of the components. They may need to accept by faith that what results is greater than what is presented before them. This may explain why partial knowledge such as what one would be exposed to through popular means such as magazines and websites may not sufficiently explain emergent properties.

In other words, great teachers are more than system thinkers. I say more because effective teaching is the result of at least systems thinking as well as psychological phenomena such as accounting for and influencing learning behaviour.