Earlier this century ecologists who focused on the study of animal and plant communities observed networks of relationships – the web of life. They found a new way of thinking – thinking in terms of relationships, connectedness and context – SYSTEMS THINKING.
Systems thinking involves several shifts from mechanistic, reductionistic thinking:
Shift from the parts to the whole:
According to the systems view a living system has essential properties which none of the parts have. They arise from the interactions and relationships between the parts. These properties are destroyed when the system is dissected, either physically or theoretically, into isolated elements.
For example, energy and matter move in cycles through an ecosystem; all substances are continually recycled. The food chains that ecologists originally talked about are really food webs. They are networks, and there are cycles within those networks, which are feedback loops. All these are properties that can only be understood if you observe the whole ecosystem. If you split it into a number of species and make a list of those, you will never discover that there are these cyclical patterns that interconnect them.
Shift from analysis to context:
The shift from the parts to the whole is not easy because we have all been conditioned by our upbringing, our education, to think in terms of parts. The whole enterprise of Western philosophical thought has been mechanistic and reductionist, concentrating on the parts.
The great shock of twentieth century science has been that living systems cannot be understood by this method of analysis. This doesn’t mean that we have to give up analysis. It’s still very useful in many ways, but it is limited.
In the systems approach, the properties of the parts can be understood only from the organization of the whole. In order to understand something, you don’t take it apart; you put it into a larger context.
Only then will you understand, for example, why a bird has certain colors. If you know something about evolution, you will know how these colors originated and evolved. You will understand the properties within the context of the environment of this animal and within its evolutionary context.
So, system thinking is ‘contextual’, and this is the opposite of analytical thinking. Analysis means taking something apart in order to understand it; systems thinking means putting it into the context of a larger whole.
Shift from objects to relationships:
In the l920s physicists discovered that ultimately there are no parts. What we call a ‘part’ is merely a pattern in an inseparable web of relationships. It is of course very useful to define parts, but this definition is often arbitrary and approximate and needs to be flexible.
Therefore, the shift from the parts to the whole can also be seen as a shift from objects to relationships. In the mechanistic view, the world is seen as a collection of objects, and the relationships between them are secondary. In the systems view, we realize that the objects themselves – the organisms in an ecosystem or the people in a community -are networks of relationships, embedded in larger networks. For the systems thinker, the relationships are primary, the objects are secondary.
Shift from hierarchies to networks:
A striking property of living systems is their tendency to form multileveled structures of systems within systems. Let’s take our own organism as an example. At the smallest level we have cells, and each cell is a living system. These cells combine to form tissues, the tissues form organs. The whole organism is a network of all these relationships. Then the organism as a whole exists within societal relationships, within social systems, and within ecosystems.
At each level, we have systems that are integrated wholes while at the same time being parts of larger wholes. Throughout the living world, we find living systems within other living systems.
Since the early days of ecology, these multileveled arrangements have been called hierarchies, a misleading term derived from human hierarchies with a fairly rigid structure of domination and control – quite unlike the multileveled order found in nature.
Since living systems at all levels are networks, we must visualize the web of life as living systems (networks) interacting in network fashion with other systems (networks).
In other words, the web of life consists of networks within networks.
Shift from structure to process:
All the systems concepts discussed so far can be seen as different aspects of one great strand of systemic thinking, which we may call contextual thinking. Contextual thinking means thinking in terms of connectedness, context and relationships.
There is another strand in systems thinking that is of equal importance. This second strand is process thinking. In the mechanistic framework of Cartesian science, there are fundamental structures, and then there are forces and mechanisms through which these interact, thus giving rise to processes.
In systems science every structure is seen as the manifestation of underlying processes. Structure and process always go together; they are two sides of the same coin. Systems thinking is always process thinking.
Reference – Capra, F: From the Parts to the Whole, in The Education Network Australian Education Network, Winter 1995
Adapted from – Holistic Education Network of Tasmania, Australia – http://www.hent.org/intro3.htm
The training program “Training of Trainers” is an educational product that is currently missing in the partner countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. Due to the early stage of development of the youth sector and youth work in these countries the educational materials aimed at non-formal learning are still limited and insufficient. The lack of adequate educational framework for training of youth workers in the field of formal education leads to inefficient use of the capacity of professionals.
This course fills a gap in the youth sector, namely the need of methodologies for the preparation of trainers, who are able to train youth workers. This course will set the basis for the preparation of teams of trainers of youth workers. The course will serve the goal of development of youth work in the participating countries and other interested parties. A large number of youth workers can be trained according to the methodology at national and international level to use and promote non-formal learning as a tool to enhance the realization of young people in the labor market and increase their social cohesion.
Part 1 General concepts
- Lesson 1 – What is a trainer? Ethics, morality and responsibility – video
- Lesson 1 – What is a trainer? Ethics, morality and responsibility – text
- Lesson 2 – Principles of Non-formal learning – text
- Lesson 2 – Principles of non-formal learning – web links
- Lesson 2- Principles of non-formal learning – tips and tricks
- Ask yourself – Check your values – reflection
Part 2 Theoretical framework
- Lesson 3 – Most influential theories of learning – text
- Lesson 3 – Most influential theories of learning – web links
- Lesson 4 – Learning Pyramid (Edgar Dales Cone Of Experience) – text
- Lesson 4 – Learning Pyramid (Edgar Dales Cone Of Experience) – web links
- Lesson 5 – Holistic Teaching and Learning 1 – Whole-brain learning – text
- Lesson 5 – Holistic Teaching and Learning 2 – Cooperative learning – text
- Lesson 5 – Holistic Teaching and Learning 3 – Knowledge of whole systems – text
- Lesson 5 – Holistic Teaching and Learning 4 – How to Use the Brain More Effectively – video
- Lesson 6 – Theory of Self-Directed Learning – text
- Lesson 7 – Multiple Intelligence Theory – text
- Lesson 7 – Multiple Intelligence Theory – video
- Lesson 7 – Multiple Intelligence Theory – web links
- Lesson 8 – Social Learning Theory – text
- Lesson 8 – Social Learning Theory – video
- Lesson 9 – Self-efficacy – text
- Lesson 9 – Self-efficacy – video
- Lesson 10 – Experiential learning theory – text
- Lesson 10 – Experiential learning theory – video
- Lesson 11 – Model of Learning styles – text
- Lesson 12 – Learning motivation – text
- Lesson 13 – Learning flow – text
- Lesson 13 – Learning flow – video and web links
- Lesson 14 – The four stages of competence – text and web links
- Lesson 15 – Key competences for lifelong learning – text
- Lesson 16 – Facilitation, Coaching, Mentoring and Training – text
- Lesson 16 – Facilitation, Coaching, Mentoring and Training – video and web links
- Lesson 17 – Developmental Stages of Youth – text
- Lesson 18 – Characteristics of Adult Learners – text
Part 3 Practical skills
- Lesson 19 – Setting learning goals – tips and tricks
- Lesson 20 – Taxonomy of learning goals – text
- Ask yourself – Learning goals vs. Learners needs – reflection
- Lesson 21 – Group Dynamics and Social learning: The Layers Effect – text
- Lesson 22 – Working with groups: Stages of Group Development (group dynamics) 1 – text
- Lesson 22 – Working with groups: Stages of Group Development (group dynamics) 2 – text
- Lesson 22 – Working with groups: Stages of Group Development (group dynamics) 3 – text
- Lesson 22 – Working with groups: Non-formal Methods – video
- Lesson 22 – Working with groups: Before taking action – tips and tricks
- Lesson 22 – Working with groups: Activities collection – try this
- Ask yourself – Group dynamics processes – reflection
- Lesson 23 – Assignment of Activities – text
- Lesson 24 – Communication: Johari window – text
- Lesson 24 – Communication: Listening – text
- Lesson 24 – Communication: Giving and receiving feedback – text
- Lesson 24 – Communication: How to deal with disruptive behavior – text
- Lesson 24 – Communication – tips and tricks
- Lesson 25 – Working in team of trainers – text
- Lesson 26 – The Art of Co-Working – text
- Ask yourself – Team work – reflection
- Lesson 27 – Active reviewing – text
- Lesson 27 – Active reviewing – video
- Lesson 27 – Active reviewing – web links
- Lesson 28 – Debriefing Experiential Learning Exercises – text
- Lesson 29 – Six phases of debriefing – text
- Lesson 30 – Learning methods – text
- Lesson 31 – Training design: ADDIE Model – text
- Lesson 31 – Training design: Construction of the training program – text
- Ask yourself – Training design – reflection
- Lesson 31 – Training design: Process activities – text
- Lesson 31 – Training design: Secret of Happiness – try this
- Ask yourself – Training design – reflection
- Lesson 32 – Training delivery: Things to Pay Attention to during a session – text
- Lesson 32 – Training delivery: Guidelines for the use of interactive games and activities – tips and tricks
- Lesson 33 – Training evaluation – text
- Lesson 33 – Training evaluation – web links
- Lesson 33 – Training evaluation – try this
- Lesson 34 – Training aids: Analogies – text
- Lesson 34 – Training aids: Storytelling – text
- Lesson 34 – Training aids: Storytelling – web links and tools
- Lesson 34 – Training aids: Storytelling – tips and tricks
- Lesson 34 – Training aids: Visuals – text
- Lesson 34 – Training aids: Visuals – web links
Last part Recomendations
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