CGI U 2013 at Washington University in St. Louis

Development of Systems Thinking Curriculum in Schools

Madeleine Polk

Madeleine Polk, undergrad in the School of Engineering

For her CGIU Commitment to Action, Madeleine is developing a means of replicating and implementing Systems Thinking curriculum in schools. After researching the successes of the Systems Thinking in Schools Institute at Ritenour School District in St. Louis, Polk is fascinated and excited by the possibility of empowering students to be better problem solvers in the classroom and their personal lives.

Through an introduction to Systems Thinking and training in systems modeling to visualize complex problems, she believes that schools can better equip the next generation of students to address the local, national, and global issues they face.

The Systems Thinking in Schools Institute has been shown to help Ritenour High School students design visualizations of real-world problems. These visualizations reflect reality in a way that allows for better problem solving techniques.

While some curriculum already exists for classroom application, Polk wants to expand the available materials and democratize it for teachers looking to use Systems Thinking in their classrooms. Systems Thinking is commonly applied in math and science classrooms, but it has applicability in history courses, life skills classrooms, and even thematic dissections of literature.

Because of its broad applicability, Polk anticipates the designing of new materials will allow for more teachers to see the relevance of Systems Thinking for their students and consequently begin to use it to aid students in problem solving processes.