How can we support all students in becoming responsible “systems citizens” who can think deeply and critically, achieve academically and professionally, and, as members of a global community, have the informed capacity to make a positive difference in the world?
To achieve these objectives, a coalition of the Systems Thinking in Schools Project, the Creative Learning Exchange, SoL Education Partnership, Cloud Institute, and Reos Partners is launching Partnerships for the Future, a focused, multi-year effort to shift K-12 education around the world toward a greater emphasis on critical thinking skills, sustainability education, and systemic approaches in classrooms and across communities. The project will start with a special week-long learning event—Camp Snowball.
Camp Snowball got its name from the “snowball effect,” which reflects our desire to build momentum around this effort through a set of reinforcing processes all focused on successfully developing our students into systems citizens. The contributing factors include:
• A foundation of research-based practices, success stories from demonstration school sites, and shared tools and resources.
• A multi-year project design, not a quick fix.
• A focus on entire communities, not just school systems. Change is hard. We need committed teams with different perspectives and networks to provide resilience and rigor to this effort.
• Business involvement. Students are the workforce of the future. Business needs employees who can deal with the complexity that the future holds. The private sector must join with schools for long-term success.
• Relationships across sectors, school systems, and communities.
When diverse teams from different parts of the world come together, businesses can connect with other businesses; community members can connect with other community members; educators and students can join with other educators and students, thus reinforcing the learning that is seeded at Camp Snowball. Cross-sectoral relationships that highlight diverse needs and perspectives are also critical for building creative tension and thus driving these activities to scale.
This work emphasises system dynamics, systems thinking, and education for sustainability. These powerful learning tools reinforce instructional strategies and increase student engagement in learning, regardless of the subject being studied.
We are also working on a structured set of follow-up activities. After Camp Snowball is over, teams will benefit from ongoing coaching and support as they work to implement personal and systemic changes.