Another dot in the blogosphere?

Countering asystemic thinking

Posted on: May 17, 2020

This might seem trite, but it needs to be said anyway: Individuals tend to not think systemically, they think only for themselves.

Take this tweet from just over a month ago showing our residents descending upon an IKEA store just before out lockdown.

Now consider something a bit more recent and further away. Protesters in the USA demanded their rights while conveniently forgetting their responsibilities.

Why don’t individuals think more systemically? Perhaps they do not have accurate or timely information. But even if they have that information, they might not be able to analyse it meaningfully.

In the current COVID-19 context, most people do not understand how graphs both show and hide information (see video below). They may not have read or understood why we have specific distances to stay physically apart. They cannot distinguish the value of anecdotal findings vs peer reviewed articles.


Video source

Then again, even analysis is subject to rationalisation. You can give two people the same dataset and they can arrive at different conclusions.

This article in The Atlantic provided more insights. The short version: We tend to have short, narrow, and singular vision. We need to learn how to see long, broad, and complex.

Excerpt from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/03/what-really-doomed-americas-coronavirus-response/608596/

Learning how to see, think, and act more systemically starts first by bursting one’s own bubble. To gain a broader perspective, one first needs access to information, and then the ability to critically process that information.

If I had a wish on how schooling would change, it would be that subjects not be taught in silos and that students learn to make connections between disciplines. The learning would not just be about content (learning about), but also about being a better thinker and person (learning to be).

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